The GTS gets its second major update in ten years and it’s a doozy

The Vespa division of the Piaggio Group expanded its footprint in 2019 with a brand-new powerplant for the GTS scooter line with the GTS 300 HPE. Fans of the brand rejoiced at the news of the most powerful engine to make it onto a Vespone descendant, and for many, this is the engine they’ve been waiting for. Safety comes standard with a few traction-protection subsystems as part of the stock package, plus it features LED forward lighting to help you see and be seen. Best of all, it remains faithful to the design progression that began right after WWII, so it has that classic look that really seals the deal.

  • 2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
  • Year:
    2019- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    278 cc
  • Top Speed:
    78 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    7099
  • Price:

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Design

  • LED lighting
  • USB port
  • Redesigned fairing “tie”
  • Classic scooter styling
  • Increased passenger comfort
2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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Nothing says old-school Italian scooter quite like a Vespa, and the new GTS 300 HPE is certainly no exception. The sheet metal presents a familiar face to the world with a redesigned tie that divides the front fairing and doubles as a horn cover. Recessed turn signals ride near the outboard edges for a much cleaner installation than the whisker-style lights, though due to regulations in the U.S., whisker lights are still a thing. The housing for the new headlight flows into a handlebar fairing and serves as the instrument housing as well. No windscreen on the base model, but the GTS 300 HPE Touring model comes equipped with a short flyscreen and rear luggage rack.

The chrome surround pairs with the instrument-panel trim to bring some bling to the top end, and the revised front fender sports a chrome dorsal crest that makes a nice offset to the large passenger grabrail out back. Inside the fairing is a small storage compartment with a USB port so you can charge your mobile devices.

A short tunnel interrupts the step-through somewhat but it comes with a flat top complete with non-skid treatment for that ’tween-feet storage. Under the seat, you’ll find room to stash a couple of brain buckets, a bookbag, or a decent amount of goods for your grocery-getting missions.

Out back, a new LED taillight and recessed blinkers finish off the rearward lighting, and the license plate pulls double-duty as a mudguard extension. As for the seat itself, it comes with new padding and a new cover to increase both pilot and pillion comfort.

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Chassis

  • Two-channel ABS
  • All-around disc brakes
  • Traction control
  • 12-inch wheels
2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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As ever, the GTS rocks a monocoque build that uses the sheet-steel body panels as stressed units, like an exoskeleton, and that replaces the underframe to provide the structure. The front end is a solid arm with a trailing link and a coil-over shock for the actual suspension. Dual shocks tame the motion of the swing-mount drive unit and support the rear end with the obligatory spring-preload adjustment, but nothing else.

I’m not a fan of the 12-inch rims, but they do fit with the overall look, and the tubeless 120/70 up front and 130/70 out back provide generous contact patches. Said patches get their first layer of safety net in the form of a stock, two-channel ABS unit, as well as traction control. The binders work on symmetrical, 220 mm stainless-steel discs to slow the GTS, and bless the factory for leaving the old drum rear brake where it belongs: on the shelf.

Frame: Sheet metal body with welded reinforcements
Front suspension: Single arm fork with coil spring and hydraulic control
Rear suspension: Double hydraulic shock absorber with four-position spring pre-load adjustment
Front brake: Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc
Rear brake: Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc
Braking system: Two-channel ABS system
Front tire: Tubeless 120/70 - 12”
Rear tire: Tubeless 130/70 - 12"

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Drivetrain

  • New 278 cc high-performance engine
  • 12 percent more horsepower
  • 18 percent more torque
  • Updated transmission with tougher drive belt
2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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The real selling point on the GTS 300 HPE is definitely the beating heart. Its potential is reflected right in the name “High Performance Engine,” and it lives up to that moniker with a grand total of 23.8 horsepower on tap at 8,250 rpm. Torque measures in with a claimed 19.17 pound-feet that comes on fully by 5,250 rpm for an output increase of 12 percent and 18 percent from the horsepower and torque, respectively. This turns in an actual top speed around 78 mph though the speedo seems a little on the fast side with a displayed 87 mph at the top end. Naturally, loaded weight, elevation, and ambient air temp play into the equation, but suffice to say you can keep up with legal interstate traffic, and that opens up the potential for use as a commuter.

The 278 cc engine is mounted to the revamped CVT transmission — that has a tougher drive belt — as a stressed unit to make up the swing-mount drive. It delivers the twist-and-go operation to make riding a near-effortless endeavor. A dry centrifugal clutch divorces the tranny from engine power at an idle to wrap up the mechanical equipment in the drivetrain, but that’s not the whole story. Vespa chucked on its ASR traction control feature to prevent wheel-spin if you give it more juice than the rear contact patch can handle. Even though Vespa has done so for a while now, it’s still a rare treat to find traction control here at the bottom of the two-wheel pecking order.

Engine: Single cylinder 4-stroke Piaggio HPE
Displacement: 278 cc
Bore x Stroke: 75 mm x 63 mm
Max Power: 23.8 hp (17.5 kW) at 8,250 rpm
Max Torque: 19.2 lb-ft (26 Nm) at 5,250 rpm
Fuel system: Electronic injection
Ignition: Electronic, with variable advance
Cooling: Liquid
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Pricing

2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
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MSRP for the GTS 300 HPE is $7,099. The Yacht Club model with its white and nautical blue colorway rolls for $7,049 and the Touring model top out the lineup at $7,299.

ModelGTS 300 HPEGTS 300 HPE TouringGTS 300 HPE Yacht Club
Color: Blu Energia, Verde Relax, Grigio Dolomiti Verde Bosco Bianco Yacht Club
Price: $7,099 $7,299 $7,049

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Competitors

2015 - 2019 Piaggio BV 350 ABS
- image 731275
2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
- image 822731

Ya’ know, Vespa is a tough act to follow. It’s got deep roots and an emotional connection with its throngs of admirers. A Chinese knock-off won’t do, so I’m going to keep it in the family and look at Piaggio — Vespa’s parent company — and its BV 350.

Piaggio BV 350

2015 - 2019 Piaggio BV 350 ABS
- image 677052

Yeah, the mill is a bit bigger with a total of 330 cc, so the power output is necessarily greater as well, to the tune of 30.2 ponies and 21.4 pounds o’ grunt. That’s all fine and dandy, but since the Vespa is capable of interstate travel, anything beyond that is just gratuitous, says me.

The BV 350 also comports itself with a decidedly modern look that, while it’s not unattractive, lacks anything in the way of the charm that the GTS 300 HPE brings to the table. It does qualify as a maxi-scooter at the bottom of the range. I guess the main reason I pulled this machine is the fact that they both fall at a similar pricing point and the quality of the fit and finish will be at similar standards. The BV 350 rolls for $6,599, which is more bang-per-buck, but again, if you’re into that classic look, nothing else but a Vespa will do.

Read our full review of the Piaggio BV 350.

He Said

“Maybe the Vespa snobs are right. I admit, I have an affinity for that classic look, and wouldn’t bat an eye at spending the extra money to get it. Throw in the traction control and ABS and you’ve really got something you can safely work with. Not sure I’d ever be comfortable on the superslab with it though.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “In the last ten years, this only the second major update for the GTS. It’s a very popular scooter in Europe, which has a larger scooter culture than we have here in the U.S. and with the HPE, it makes a good thing better.”

”With major revisions to the engine and drivetrain, you get, not only more horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy, but also a smoother and quieter ride.”

Vespa GTS 300 HPE Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single cylinder 4-stroke Piaggio HPE
Displacement: 278 cc
Bore x Stroke: 75 mm x 63 mm
Max Power: 23.8 hp (17.5 kW) at 8,250 rpm
Max Torque: 19.2 lb-ft (26 Nm) at 5,250 rpm
Fuel system: Electronic injection
Ignition: Electronic, with variable advance
Cooling: Liquid
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch
Chassis:
Frame: Sheet metal body with welded reinforcements
Front suspension: Single arm fork with coil spring and hydraulic control
Rear suspension: Double hydraulic shock absorber with four-position spring pre-load adjustment
Front brake: Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc
Rear brake: Hydraulically operated 220 mm stainless steel disc
Braking system: Two-channel ABS system
Front tire: Tubeless 120/70 - 12”
Rear tire: Tubeless 130/70 - 12"
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length/Width: 76.8 inches/29.7 inches (1,950/755 mm)
Wheelbase: 54.3 inches (1,380 mm)
Saddle height: 31.1 inches (790 mm)
Fuel tank capacity: 1.8 gallons (7 liters)
Fuel Economy (WMTC cycle): 75.5 mpg (31.2 km/l)
Top Speed: 78 mph (est)
Details:
Color:
└ GTS 300 HPE: Blu Energia, Verde Relax, Grigio Dolomiti
└ GTS 300 HPE Touring: Verde Bosco
└ GTS 300 HPE Yacht Club: Bianco Yacht Club
Price:
└ GTS 300 HPE: $7,099
└ GTS 300 HPE Touring: $7,299
└ GTS 300 HPE Yacht Club: $7,049

Further Reading

Vespa

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 806594

Read more Vespa news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: vespa.com, piaggio.com

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