Piaggio has managed to turn the three-wheeled MP3, which was initially viewed with suspicion, into a cult vehicle. The latest generation is not only smarter and more powerful, but also a real high-tech device with a reversing camera and radar assistance system. But that also has its price.
It's been five years since Piaggio introduced the last generation of its MP3 three-wheel scooter. With the two models MP3 350 and MP3 500, the Italians showed a successful further development of the previous models in July 2018. There are now two new MP3 models: The MP3 400 - a version of the existing 400 model that has been developed primarily in terms of design and refinement in terms of equipment - and the completely new top model, the MP3 530.
Both have become significantly more expensive than their predecessors, but the 530 in particular also offers significantly improved technology and equipment, optimized ergonomics and a much more attractive design. In addition, the MP3 530 now has an electric reversing aid as standard and is the first three-wheel scooter to have a reversing camera. So you can maneuver backwards with it without "footing" and without dislocating your neck.
When Piaggio presented the original version of the MP3 in 2006, some journalists quickly spoke of a kind of "sick elevator" that would never establish itself on the market. They were sorely mistaken: so far more than 230,000 units of the MP3 have been released onto the streets of this world - and there has long been no talk of the "sick elevator". Some competitors - Quadro, Peugeot and Yamaha - have developed their own three-wheel scooters for years, but are clearly behind the original from northern Italy in terms of quantity and performance.
The new MP3 has basically remained an MP3. The landing gear locking mechanism using a slider on the right handlebar and the parking brake are basically unchanged. The very stable and therefore safe driving behavior could be improved with an almost identical chassis construction. So no one who has ever driven an MP3 needs to make the switch. What has also not changed is that you can drive all MP3 models with a car driver's license if you are older than 21 years - which is certainly the most important prerequisite for the success of the three-wheel scooter.
The new version of the 530 also comes with an improved engine, more equipment in the form of a keyless start system and a 7-inch TFT display in the cockpit. In addition, the 530 shines with LED lights including daytime running lights and, thanks to a larger windshield, offers more protection against driving and adverse weather conditions. Both engines are powerful. Despite slightly higher dynamics, the 530 is no thirstier than the previous 500. The ready-to-drive weights of both versions roughly correspond to those of the previous models. The 400 weighs 260 kilograms, the 530 even 280 kilograms. The extra weight is not noticeable.
With the MP3 400 with a maximum output of 35 hp, you can feel like an agile road user in city and intercity traffic, because the engine energetically pulls the heavy load forward from a standstill. And it picks up speed noticeably at 110 km/h, until it actually ends at 135 km/h. A maximum of 145 km/h is still mentioned for the 530. The main difference between the two engines lies in the sovereignty and pulling power that the larger and more powerful engine conveys.
The 530 carries the additional designation Exclusive. Piaggio has installed the MIA multimedia platform. It enables all types of connectivity including arrow navigation by means of smartphone coupling. A standard reversing aid, a reversing camera and a radar-based lane monitoring system that monitors the rear road space are also on board. This function can be rated as real driving assistance. The cruise control of the 530 is also a fine thing. The somewhat harsh reversing aid is not entirely satisfactory; a smoother response would be nice.
Piaggio would also be well advised to further refine the ergonomics of the locking lever on the right of the handlebar. You have to concentrate a lot to catch the brief moment when the steering of the still rolling MP3 can be locked. In this respect, a less sporty MP3 driver is well advised to stop conventionally by placing one or two feet on the road and only then activate the lock. Driving off with your feet on the running boards, on the other hand, is absolutely problem-free.
The newly clad MP3 400 will be available from July 2022 from 10,800 euros. The sports version with some optical finesse and MIA connectivity costs 500 euros more. For the top-of-the-range 530 Exclusive, buyers have to shell out 13,300 euros on the dealer's table - at least 2,900 euros more than for the MP3 500 in 2018. The significant additional equipment of the latest generation also needs to be well paid for. Which probably won't surprise anyone.
Piaggio Germany assumes that, as in 2021, the MP3 entry-level model will continue to be in greatest demand: the MP3 300 in the unchanged outfit is still available - for bargain hunters - for an inexpensive 7300 euros.