Piaggio Vespa GTS 300 (2009-2019) Review
- Vespa’s largest version of its retro-styled classic
- Plenty of charm, style and practicality
- Pricey compared to some rivals
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£110|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Launched in 2009, the Piaggio Vespa GTS 300 was the enlarged successor to the preceding GTS 250, itself a successor to the gamechanging Granturismo (GT) 200 of 2003, which was a brilliant blend of retro-inspired styling, modern technology and quality detailing (at, it has to be said, a premium price) which quickly became the most fashionable, desirable and definitive scooter of all.
The original GT200 proved so successful it quickly spawned a whole family of variants in a variety of capacities – 125, 200, 250 and 300 – in trim levels ranging from GT, to GTS and GTV.
Until succeeded by a new 350, the GTS 300 was the largest, fastest and most luxurious and the most aspirational scooter of all. It looks great, has the definitive brand name, is easy to ride, lavishly equipped and, in 300 form, produces 22bhp and is capable of 80mph. No wonder it’s so desireable.
It’s up to more than outings across cities and suburbia: get the extra luggage, load it up and it’ll happily take you for a long weekend away touring. At 70mpg-plus it won’t cost too much either, though a bigger tank than its two gallon one would have helped.
Conversely, on the slight downside, as a new buy it’s also one of the most expensive ‘midi’ scooters available, used prices are also high, it’s not actually as practical or economical as some of its rivals.
Being a 300 means it requires a full licence (the smaller 125cc version is A1 compliant so can be ridden with a CBT certificate and is thus a much higher seller) and is also something of a ‘theft magnet’ in big cities. But if you want the flashiest, fastest version of the trendiest scooter around, the GTS 300 is right up there.
You can find a large group of GTS owners online at the Vespa GTS Owners' Club on Facebook.
For 2021 Vespa produce the GTS300 75th anniversary model, which has some lovely touches and is worth paying the extra for.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
At the end of the day there’s no getting away from the fact that, like most scooters, the GTS 300 is a ‘step-thru’ riding on small, 12-inch wheels with fairly crude suspension and brakes, so don’t expect motorcycle-style stability, especially at speed, plush, longer travel suspension or powerful big brakes.
Once you’ve got your head around that, however, the Vespa GTS 300 Super is one of the sweetest handling and most stable scooters you’ll get of any capacity. Wriggle through town, between cars, over mini-roundabouts, in and out of car parks and it rewards with excellent balance and steering while at the top end it still feels secure rather than scary.
- Related: Vespa Elettrica review
You do notice the unsprung weight of the engine and belt drive transmission bouncing around with the wheel at higher speeds, when the GTS kicks and gets choppy more than a conventional bike would, but ride quality is right at the top end of the table compared with other scooters.
All that said, some used, higher mileage examples have been known to suffer from ‘front end wobble’, caused by excessive loading, incorrect bar end weights, unbalanced wheels or more and bikes that have done a lot of two-up, heavily loaded miles (not many, admittedly) have been known to suffer from rear shock wear, requirting replacement units. Overall, though, there’s nothing to worry about.
Brakes are by respected Italian manufacturer Brembo, comprise a single 220mm front disc assisted by an identical item at the rear and offer balanced stopping power with good feel from the rear, which, although not up to some motorcycle standards, are more than adequate for the job.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The bigger capacity engine of the Vespa GTS 300 was created by enlarging the 250 GTS’s ‘Quasar’ four-stroke, single-cylinder engine with both bore and stroke increases and also a revised cylinder head which was designed to improve mid-range torque rather than outright peak power – and it makes a real difference. It carried the moniker HPE, which stood for High Performance Engine.
The 300 charges away from the lights and pulls strongly up to 70mph, then keeps going to just over 80mph, which is much the same top speed as the 250, but it gets there a lot quicker thanks to the added grunt and midrange.
Transmission is by the usual scooter-style ‘twist and go’ CVT belt (Constantly Variable Transmission) so there’s no clutch and no need to change gears – which is a big part of the whole appeal of scooters such as the Vespa – so you literally ‘twist and go’!
While in standard trim the GTS 300’s exhaust note is fairly muted so aftermarket exhausts or silencers are fairly popular options, particularly among scooter enthusiasts and especially from brands such as Remus, Scorpion and Akrapovic.
These don’t make much difference to the GTS 300’s power output but they do make it sound noticeably noisier and meatier and, usually being fabricated from stainless steel, means they’re also less prone to corrosion and rust.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
When launched in 2003, the GT 200 was intended as Vespa’s top-of-the-range model and quality, specification and build standards were increased even further when it was uprated first into GTS 250 trim then, in 2009, into 300 guise – and it certainly has the style and quality to measure up to that billing.
Paint is generally thick and glossy, chrome (and there’s plenty of it) is good, materials and finishes elsewhere are good as well, equipment levels are high and the general impression you get is of a quality, luxury machine – and this is almost universally echoed by comments and ratings from actual owners.
However, like anything else, the GTS 300 is not perfect, either. Because of the extensive use of steel in the pressed construction and panels (a technicque which has defined Vespa scooters ever since the original back in 1946), corrosion can be an issue particularly underneath the floorpan if not looked after and treated with a sealant and especially if regularly ridden through a British winter.
As a result, many owners recommend that it’s imperative to keep any GTS fastiduously clean if that’s what you do. While if buying used make sure you have a good look around under the front end and floor and around the rear taillight looking for rust
In addition, snapped drive belts are not uncommon if the correct service schedule isn’t adhered to. Another problem can be a troublesome standard exhaust gasket which can disintegrate in as little as 3000 miles (although fitting an aftermarket exhaust as above will sidestep this).
All that said, however,quality and reliability-wse, the Vespa GTS 300 remains among the better quality and more reliable of midi scooters available (as it arguably should be considering its premium price) and, if looked after, there are no major problems any prospective owners should be unduly concerned about.
Our Piaggio Vespa GTS 300 owners' reviews show a positive overall score. Negative points include a lack of standard kit and some flimsy parts, but in the main owners like their bikes very much.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Scooters are generally affordable and cheap to run – they’re whole DNA is to be easy, cheap, commuter transport after all, but the GTS 300 runs contrary to that premise in being the biggest engine Vespa yet and also a premium-priced luxury machine that’s one of the most expensive on the market.
The GTS 300 certainly wasn’t cheap when new, although, now being superceded by the 350 version means we’re only really considering it as a used buy here. In that respect, it’s also an in-demand machine meaning that, on the one hand, although still not cheap, it’s more affordable than when new and in addition won’t suffer the plummeting depreciation of much of its cheaper opposition, so in the longer run (and it’ll still be going when some Chinese offerings have long been sent to the skip) it should pay you back.
On top of that, although not the cheapest scooter to insure, the GTS 300 still has more affordable premiums than most comparable bikes (although it is worth pointing out here that all GTSs have become theft magnets, particularly in London where there’s a boom in scooter crime, and latest premiums reflect that) and running costs and its hunger for consumables such as tyres, brake pads and so on are a fraction of what they’d be on a comparable motorcycle and certainly a car.
Despite the larger engine, 60-70mpg is certainly possible which, considering its 9.5litre fuel tank, should result in an easy 130 miles or so before the fuel warning light comes on.
As far as residual values go, with GTSs, the higher the spec the more desireable it is so go for the best you can afford. Rivals, meanwhile, include the now defunct Kawasaki J300, the big-wheeled but less stylish Honda SH300i and popular but more anonymous-looking Yamaha XMax 300.
Most of the other differences between the Vespa GTS 300 and the preceding 250 version were mostly cosmetic, but added to its equipment levels. These included natty-looking grills in the side panels, which were a stylistic nod to older sporting Vespas, revisions to the leg shields via the use of different chrome and vents, sporty red painted suspension components and new shaped seats (with two options being offered, comfort and sport).
The wheels were also cool, two-tone alloys which were allegedly reminiscent of the old unboltable rims of earlier Vespas – we’re not sure about that but theydo look good.
The rear luggage rack which was standard on the 250 wasn’t fitted to the 300, however, which was a surprise at the time, although Vespa justified this by saying this was because the 300 was sportier and needed to have a ‘cleaner’ rear end appearance.
Elsewhere, although like all scooters, undeniably practical, the GTS 300 isn’t actually as good as you might expect. Its underseat storage isn’t great – Piaggio’s press shots showing a helmet in there don’t tell you that it’s an open face belonging to a pin-headed pygmy.
My hulking great Arai didn’t come close to squeezing in, so most buyers will have to fork out extra for a rack and probably a top box, too, if the GTS is going to be any use for getting to work with a briefcase and wet weather gear.
The clocks, meanwhile, are fairly standard, but admittedly, stylish, plus there’s the usual luggage hook, LED lights and Bluetooth connectivity with a USB charging socket.
Vespa released the GTS300 75th anniversary special costing £790 more than the standard GTS300 Touring (the base GTS300 is just £5190) and for that you get special paint finishes, 75th logos, a nubuck leather saddle round leather bag and a welcome kit, including a fancy silk scarf, owner’s book and eight collector’s postcards.
|Engine type||4v l/c single, automatic|
|Frame type||Pressed steel|
|Fuel capacity||9.2 litres|
|Front suspension||Single-arm, no adjust|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, preload adjust|
|Front brake||220mm disc|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 12|
|Rear tyre size||130/70 x 12|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||70 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£110|
|Used price||£3,000 - £4,800|
7 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||22 bhp|
|Max torque||16.4 ft-lb|
|Top speed||80 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||170 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2009: Vespa GTS 300 Super introduced.
- 2019: Bike goes off sale.
- 2021: GTS300 75th anniversary model produced.
GTS300 (base model) and GTS300 Touring.
Other Piaggio Vespa reviews on MCN
Owners' reviews for the PIAGGIO VESPA GTS300 (2009 - 2019)
5 owners have reviewed their PIAGGIO VESPA GTS300 (2009 - 2019) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£110|
Version: Hpe super
Annual servicing cost: £80
Iffy cornering compared to motorcycle.
Not at its best on faster roads, steady otherwise.
Always sounds as if it is working hard.
So far so good.
Medium screen is a good option to buy.
Buying experience: Dealer £5000 new plus some freebies.
Version: Abs/asr 70th anniversary model
Annual servicing cost: £97
This is my first Vespa. I'm impressed with the high level of fit & finish throughout the bike. Today's GTS's are fully featured with digital instrumentation, a bigger fuel tank (9.5ltrs), bigger under seat storage, & of course abs & digital traction control. Because these newer versions offer considerably more low & midrange torque, traction control is actually quite useful. This better power delivery is courtesy of a new 32bit ECU over the older models 16bit version. The ride & handling are impressive & comparable to many fine midrange motorcycles, as is the braking. Incidentally, I come from riding big bikes ie: GSX1400, Vstrom 1000GT's & a Burgman400. All good bikes! But, the Vespa does it for me & it is an incredibly useful tool. The only slight moan is about the side stand which is not as secure as it should be. If you were to knock the bike, the side stand can easily self retract, letting the bike easily fall over.
The ride on one of these has to be experienced. It's not what you'd expect, offering fantastic balance & taut handling/roadholding. My bike has the enhanced sliding suspension up front (ESS). This gives an amazing ride over bumps & potholes, almost magic carpet like! Yeah, I know, all on 12" wheels which doesn't seem possible. It's down to the trailing link ESS suspension which is amazing. Whether on motorways or back roads the bike is fully at home and comfortable over big distances. The large frame is incredibly stiff compared to a conventional maxi frame scooters. Vespa says 2.5 times as stiff! It is, trust me! The brakes have loads of feel & stop the bike on a sixpence. The abs has not kicked in on mine yet, but I'm told works really well.
Yet again, I can't find fault here. I'm not a slow rider, but I don't barrel down the road at 75_80 all the time. The motor will take it, but frankly if you want to do that sort of speed ALL the time, get a bigger bike. But, she's happy at 65_70mph all day and the motor is not stressed. Average fuel consumption for most of my day to day riding is between 84_88mpg. If you don't go over 55mph she'll do 92_95mpg! Quite amazing!
The paint finish (metallic silver) is phenomenal. It's thick & glossy, & durable. I've had the bike almost a year now & there is NO corrosion anywhere. The bike has been totally reliable with no failures or faults of any kind. However, I have recently rust proofed the entire bike. This one's a keeper.
The 6200 mile service is likely to be in the region of £130 to £160. Oil & filter changes are at 6200. Rear hub oil is changed at two yearly intervals. However, the bike is a diy'ers dream and once out of warranty I'll undertake the work myself. This reduces the cost considerably & is easy & fun to do. Parts are cheap to buy.
The bike does not have a screen as standard, it should come with one in my opinion. It also does not have heated grips as factory fit either. So, I fitted Oxford Advanced Hotgrips, not the scooter grips because they don't get hot enough. The GTS has 450 watt generator so it can handle the higher load of the beefier Hotgrips. I also fitted the genuine Vespa mid size screen. Great!! The standard Citygrip Michelin tyres are also brilliant. Leave them on.
Buying experience: Bought mine from Colchester Kawasaki. Brilliant dealer.
suitability as a touring scooter
Annual servicing cost: £150
Performance, good with pillion, excellent build quality, iconic name, good at distance, good lights, great in town and on the open road, thumbs down for distance between seat and floor pan for 6 footers, can feel a little cramped, carries loads well a good touring scooter, not as engaging to ride as my px. Yes I would recommend it far prettier than a sh300.
It's a great all rounder more than comfortable enough to do a tankfull.
For a traditional style scooter it's performance is what geared scooter riders can only dream of. Acceleration and a constant 70mph even loaded and two up is exceptional. But just not as engaging to ride as a geared 2t or even a lml geared 4t
Keep it clean, polish it regularly, don't forget around the engine rear springs and front end especially if used in the winter. Sometimes cuts out at standstill if using 95octane runs much better on 98octane no other problems on my one.
Always use quality oil, and tyres to maintain the handling if regularly carrying a pillion and luggage up the preload.
Smoothness build quality. I have a Vespa top box & back pad good but flimsy compared to givi - hepco & Becker etc and I think the box makes the scoot look a bit femanin, will prob buy a 30ltr sip "classic" semi rigid bag the same as my px. The gts already has a FA Italia front rack and a 10ltr sip classic bag good quality keep their shape and look good on vespas. All my scoots are fitted with schwalb race man tyres and I will get them fitted to the gts when it needs them,good in all weather as long as you get some heat in them. But they are great when it's hot and wear well.
Buying experience: From a dealer. Second hand very low mileage and like new chopped in my last motorbike. Have bought from this dealer before always had good service.
Brilliant Fun Bike - loads of grunt - quality kit - huge fun factor. BUY ONE!!!!!