A new take on the executive express

For the suited scooterist, Piaggio's new Hexagon has got everything bar the ashtray, writes Andy Gillard

Piaggio is claiming the crown as "king of the maxis" for its re- designed, new Hexagon model. And in a way, quite rightly so, because it was not until the launch of its first version in 1994 that the scooter- buying public began to take notice of this practical alternative. Now it is commonplace to find despatch riders and commuters alike battling through the traffic congestion in London on a Hexagon.

The new Hexagon is described by Piaggio as "the Second Generation Maxi Scooter", which may hum a little of grandeur but that's what it's all about. Gone are the old badges, which were a little tacky; they are replaced by an elegant chrome statement, not out of place in the company car park.

Additions include the mobile phone charger in the boot and the restyled back end which would suggest that this scooter is definitely to be parked in the "executive only" bays. Yes, a scooter with a boot, both carpeted and lit, with enough space to store a crash helmet, gloves and maybe your laptop and mobile, too. Practical touches have also been included, possibly at customers' advice, such as the retractable seat cover for when it rains and a digital clock on the dash.

Overall there is very little difference in the look of the new model. A slight skirt has been added to the legshields for a little more weather protection while an extended handlebar cover offers the same to your fingers. The riding position is said to be improved, although the vertically challenged may still have trouble climbing aboard, but once they do they will find it a pleasure to ride.

Larger wheels, better brakes and uprated suspension go together to make it subtly, yet vastly improved from it's predecessor. While appearing to be both long and cumbersome the Hexagon is surprisingly light and easy to throw around, being exceedingly nimble upon request. And, unlike the Japanese maxi scooters which appear to many as scaled-down motorbikes, the Hexagon is far less awesome to the first time rider.

Hexagon's stablemate, the Gilera Runner, lends the two-stroke engines for the two models currently available priced at pounds 2,799 (LX125) and pounds 3,099 (LXT180) OTR respectively. The Italians have certainly beaten the competition here because even the LXT is pounds 900 cheaper than it's nearest rival, albeit the Japanese machines are both four stroke.

Performance is good, with 80mph achieved on the 180cc model, and with automatic transmission being smooth and responsive to your throttle action, the Hexagon now becomes not only the ideal way to commute from the home counties to the West End, but a potential mile muncher at weekends too. Will the Hexagon replace the car during the summertime? Maybe ...

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