Peugeot’s maxi-scooter-you-can-ride-on-a-car-licence gets a useful update.
Pete Henshaw went to the south of France to test-ride it for SLUK.
Tilting three-wheel scooters have been around for quite a while now – it’s just over 10 years since Piaggio launched the pioneering MP3, and it still dominates the market. In fact, it’s proved to be a real hit in France, especially in the capital, where Parisians love the trike’s chic practicality.
This was too much for national pride, especially for one of the few European countries which still builds scooters on its home turf, so in 2014 Peugeot launched the Metropolis. It followed the same tilting trike format as the MP3, but with a few minor changes – easier to use electronic parking brake, a flat floor for shopping and step-through convenience, a remote smart key and tyre pressure monitoring. And with a 400cc motor, the Peugeot trike slipped between the MP3’s 300 and 500 options.
Well the Metropolis has now had a thorough makeover. Peugeot say the latest SmartMotion 400cc 4-valve single is all new and meets Euro 4 emissions limits, offering more low-speed torque (though less at high revs and the peak 28lb ft is the same) and using 7% less fuel as icing on the cake. Bigger 13-inch front wheels put the Metro in line with the MP3 and accommodate bigger 200mm discs, while the rear disc gets a two-pot caliper. There’s two-mode traction control, the front section of the frame is stiffer and the spring/damper rates have been revised. Peugeot reckons the result is lighter to steer than the old Metro, brakes better, uses less fuel and puts out less pollution.
Give the latest Metropolis a glance, and you could be forgiven for missing all of this, because the styling hasn’t changed one jot. Unless you count the new RX-R model (£7899), which has different paint and graphics plus a shorter tinted screen. The RS (same price) has the dark screen, red pinstripes and black alloy wheels while the standard Metro (£100 cheaper) has a taller clear screen and no flashy graphics whatsoever. If you insist, there’s also an entry-level Metro (£7599) with the old 12-inch wheels and a lower spec – linked brakes without ABS (which isn’t compulsory on tilting trikes), no traction control, no tyre pressure monitoring and just one smart key (the others have two) – that’s quite a lot to sacrifice for a saving of just £200.
Hop off an MP3 and straight onto the Metropolis, and there’s something you notice straightaway. The Metro’s seat is usefully lower at 780mm, so it’s easier for those of us with short legs to paddle around at parking speeds. Tilting trikes are big, heavy machines (the Metro weighs over a quarter of a tonne, not far short of a Honda VFR1200), and it’s always seemed odd to me that car drivers are allowed to ride them without so much as a CBT. On the other hand, I’ve never heard of inexperienced riders heading out on one and coming to grief – have you?
Despite its size (a humungous 2.1 metres long) the Metro is still pretty good at slicing through traffic, unless things get really tight. Otherwise, it’s narrow enough to filter and well balanced enough at low speed to allow unobtrusive nosing to the front of traffic queues – it’s never going to be as nimble as a 125 but that’s the price you pay for its ability out on the open road.
And it certainly has that. The Metropolis can’t match an MP3 500 for power or torque (36.5bhp vs 40bhp, and 28.1lb ft vs 33.5lb ft) but it’s still pretty quick if you wind the grip right back. The transmission holds the motor on 6-6500rpm, which is enough for rapid overtaking, certainly riding solo. The press launch was limited to a twisty coast road between Cannes and Frejus on the French Riviera (tough old world, eh?) and another twisty road back through the mountains, but I know from experience that Peugeot’s trike will also happily cruise the autoroutes at an indicated 80-90mph, so it’s a good scooter to do distance on.
What you don’t get is a stretch-out feet-forward riding position, so tall riders might feel a bit cramped. Weather protection is good and even the short screen wasn’t too noisy on the highest of three settings, though I’d want to ride it at motorway speeds to be sure. One bonus is that you don’t need any tools to move it up or down. The rider’s backrest is fore-aft adjustable, though you do need an allen key for that.
Of course, for many the reason for buying a tilting trike in the first place is the extra grip endowed by having two contact patches up front instead of one. The Metro’s front tyres are skinny 110-section Michelin City Grips, and despite the modest size they live up to their name and certainly do, err, grip. The front end feels heavier and more deliberate than on a conventional scooter, though the bigger wheels and skinnier tyres have served to lighten the Metro’s steering. The upside is very impressive stability into, through and out of corners, the trike not upset by mid-corner bumps or braking. I’ve been riding an MP3 through the winter, and I can tell you, the tilting trike layout really inspires confidence on dark, wet and muddy roads.
None of this would be up to much if there weren’t brakes to match – fortunately they are. The three discs are powerful and progressive, whether operated by the foot pedal (in which case they’re linked) or the bar levers (when they’re not). I was happier using the levers, finding them easier to modulate, though that could be down to years of riding bikes. The standard ABS just starts to come in on dry tarmac, but it’s pretty unobtrusive. As it was dry, we didn’t ask anything of the traction control but I’m sure it’ll come in useful on greasy streets. One other new item is that the hazard flashers come on automatically if you brake hard – my test bike wouldn’t on a couple of stops but maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough…
This is a big scooter, so it has to be convenient transport as well. The Metro has underseat space for one full-face and one open-face lid, so it’s not quite up to MP3 standards, though a 46-litre topbox is an option. The dash has loads of information and there’s a USB socket.
You either like tilting three-wheel scooters or you don’t. I think the Metropolis comes over as a really complete package – good handling, fine brakes, it’s quick enough and comfy over distance. It’s never going to be as nimble as a lightweight two-wheel scooter, but as an all-year round ride that can do motorways it takes some beating.
Words: Pete Henshaw
Photos: Peugeot & Pete Henshaw
Peugeot Metropolis Spec
Engine: PowerMotion 400cc, 4-stroke, 4-valve, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel injected
Power: 36.7bhp @ 7,000 rpm
Torque: 38.1 Nm @ 5250 rpm
Brakes: Twin front 200mm discs , rear 240mm disc (ABS)
Suspension: Adjustable front and rear shock absorbers
Wheels: Front 110/70-13″, rear 140/70-14″
Dimensions: Length 2160mm, width 745mm, height 1445 mm, wheelbase 1555mm
Seat height: 780mm
Fuel capacity: 13.5 litres
Kerbt weight: 256kg
Colours: Metallic copper, Shining Titanium, Pearly White (RS version Satin Technium, Titanium)
Price: From £7899
Contact: Peugeot Scooters
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