Piaggio endows new MP3 tilting 3-wheeler with first-in-class radar system
The new generation of Piaggio’s MP3 leaning three-wheeled scooters has debuted with two models, the 400 HPE and 530 HPE. Both feature updated looks and engines, as well as a host of fresh electronic gear, including a rear-facing radar and camera combo.
Italian scooter specialists, Piaggio, took a bold step in 2006 with the introduction of the MP3, which featured a patented front suspension system with two tilting wheels that allow the scooter to lean into curves. Being very safe and intuitive to use, Piaggio’s system proved successful despite the higher cost compared to conventional models, managing over 230,000 sales worldwide to date.
After a series of versions over the last 16 years that ranged from 125 cc up to 500 cc, the new MP3 lineup will consist of three models; the new 400/500 HPE (High Performance Engine) will join the carry-over 300 HPE.
The two new MP3s sport refreshed looks, as Piaggio has evolved the original design with an extensive redesign of the front that provides better aerodynamic protection for the rider. This includes a longer and lower-hanging spoiler that conceals the motor’s radiator and practically hides from view the front suspension as well. The tail also adopts a sleeker silhouette, as the mudguard and license plate holder are now bolted on the swingarm.
These changes affect the rider’s seating ergonomics by bringing the handlebars closer and 10 mm (0.4 in) lower, whereas the floorboards are lowered by 20 mm (0.8 in) allowing the knees to bend at more relaxed angles. Seat height remains unchanged at 790 mm (31.1 in).
Both new models feature a new seat unit above a storage area voluminous enough for two full-face helmets and wide enough to fit a laptop bag.
Piaggio has also included some handy electronic amenities, such as keyless ignition activation, cruise control, and a new 7-inch color TFT screen that complements Piaggio's MIA infotainment suite that offers Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and even includes the option to unlock the reclining saddle via Piaggio’s app. The catch is that the connectivity bundle is offered as standard with the 530-cc variant, but is available only optionally for the 400.
The MP3 530 HPE runs on a new single-cylinder water-cooled MASTER engine that evolved from the previous-generation 493-cc unit – as used in the MP3 500, Beverly 500 and Gilera Fuoco 500 – bored out to 530 cc and modernized according to the latest Euro specs, outputting 44.2 hp at 7,250 rpm.
It uses a new Magneti Marelli 11MP fuel injection system that supports three riding modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport – which regulate engine performance, throttle sensitivity and ASR (Acceleration Slip Regulation, as in traction control) action.
The most outstanding feature of the new MP3, exclusive to the 530-cc model, is undoubtedly the Advanced Rider Assistance System (ARAS), which includes a rear-facing radar and a camera positioned right under the tail light. Developed in Boston by Piaggio Fast Forward, the kit is used to support the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Lane Change Decision Aid System (LCDAS).
According to Piaggio, the ARAS relies on Imaging Radar 4D technology to provide much broader area coverage than ultrasound sensors, scanning a radius up to 30-35 m (98-115 ft) behind the MP3 to warn the rider about potential dangers in their blind spots.
The camera is a support feature, automatically displaying on the TFT screen when the scooter goes into reverse gear. The MP3s have never been lightweight and the latest clan do not break ranks at 260 and 280 kg (573.2 and 617.3 lb) for the 400 and 530, respectively. The reverse gear, activated at the push of a button, sounds like a welcome addition.
Piaggio named the bigger model MP3 500 HPE the Exclusive, hinting that perhaps a non-exclusive version may appear at a later time, possibly lower priced at the expense of the ARAS kit.
The smaller of the new models, the MP3 400 HPE, employs the engine that was introduced in 2020 with the new generation of Beverly scooters, evolved from the previous 350-cc unit, producing 35.3 hp at 7,500 rpm.
The electronics’ package of the MP3 400 is limited to ABS and ASR, so no ARAS radar and camera, and no riding modes either.
It will be available in two versions, the basic MP3 400 HPE and the Sport, with only bodywork colors and cosmetic differences setting the two apart. The Sport features wave brake discs, black wheel rims, black saddle with red seams, some more details in red, such as the rear suspension spring, and aluminum floorboard covers.
Piaggio hasn’t revealed when the new MP3s will hit international markets but, given that it describes them as 2022 models, they should be available sometime in the following months. In Italy both new models can be prebooked, with prices ranging from €10,499 (US$10,950) for the MP3 400 HPE to €12,999 (US$13,550) for the MP3 530 HPE Exclusive.
Product page: Piaggio