2018 Peugeot Metropolis 400 RX-R | ROAD TEST
The Peugeot Metropolis is probably the most aesthetically pleasing of the current range of three and four-wheeled scooters. It was brought up to Euro 4 spec in 2017 and now comes with ABS, has an updated engine and revised front end. We let Pete Henshaw loose on it during a nice trip to Nice and then more recently during grab a granny season in Bournemouth. Here’s how he got on.
A year ago, give or take, Peugeot flew a gaggle of journalists down to the south of France to ride the recently updated Metropolis tilting trike. Nice and the French Riviera were as scenic as you’d expect them to be (but also very chilly in January) and it was all great fun.
That’s all very well, but the real proof of any scooter is how it copes with everyday traffic back in the UK. By happy coincidence, Peugeot importer Three Cross is based less than a dozen miles from England’s own Riviera, better known as Bournemouth. It may not be the South of France, but it does have beaches, cliffs, blueish sea and on this particular day even threw in some winter sunshine.
As for the Metropolis, that comes with all the major under-the-skin improvements made last year. The four-valve 400cc single is from the Power Motion family, with very similar peak power and torque to the previous 400 (36.5bhp and 28.1lb ft) but adding a significant boost in torque at 3-6000rpm, according to Peugeot, which also claimed a 7% improvement in mpg.
Bigger and stiffer
The front end saw significant changes, with a stiffer front frame and bigger 13-inch front wheels and revised spring/damper rates to improve stability on bumpy, twisty tarmac. The bigger wheels have allowed larger 200mm discs at the front, while the rear brake gets a two-pot caliper and ABS as standard. There’s two-stage traction control now, which you can turn off altogether – you might ask why anyone would want to turn the TCS off, but after trying to cross a muddy field on an MP3 with traction control, I can tell you it’s not good to have the motor’s power cutting in and out when you’re barely moving. Not that any tilting three-wheeler is designed for mud plugging, but there you go.
Peugeot had a reason for this comprehensive upgrade – the Piaggio MP3. The Italian original made the tilting scooter market mainstream, and it still rules the roost, outselling the Metro by three to one in 2016. But what with Yamaha’s 125cc Tricity and the Quadro range of tilting three- and four-wheelers (about to re-enter the UK) there are a few alternatives to the Piaggio now.
To the Coast
A shiny Metro RX-R was waiting for me at Three Cross. There are actually three Metros to choose from, but the differences are mainly cosmetic. The basic Allure (clear screen, no graphics) is £7999 plus OTR, while for an extra £200 there’s the RS (tinted height adjustable screen, black alloy wheels) or the RX-R (same screen, alloy wheels and red/black graphics). Three Cross did offer a more basic Metro last year, with 12-inch wheels and non-ABS brakes, but that’s now gone.
One thing you notice straight away with the Metro, which has always been true – at 780mm, the seat is usefully lower than that of an MP3, which does makes life easier for those of us with short legs. It’s a wide seat, but not as tip-toey as the Piaggio.
Heading south away from Three Cross, after a quick stop in the little town of Ringwood for pictures, it was onto the dual-carriageway A338, straight to the coast. On its lowest setting, the RX-R’s tinted screen allows quite a bit of wind blast to hit you in the chest (not what you want in winter) but sliding it up to the highest setting (for which you don’t need tools) gave decent protection at an indicated 70-80mph.
The Power Motion 400 is extremely smooth, and powers the Metro’s 258kg up to motorway speeds reasonably quickly. Sitting in the outside lane, it felt well within its limits and I was reminded of how well this scooter can cope with long distances. You can’t stretch your legs out, but the floor is flat, the seat is very comfy and there’s plenty of room for two – I rode one down to Nice (nothing to do with that press launch) once over a couple of days and felt fine at the end of it. There’s not a huge amount of space under the seat, but the boot makes it all very accessible, and it can be supplemented with a topbox.
New seaside town
A few minutes later (Dorset’s not big) we were threading through the outskirts of Bournemouth, which isn’t as old as you might think. Until the 1850s, most of it was open heathland frequented by smugglers and fishermen, until one Sir George Tapps-Gervis had the brainwave to turn it into a seaside resort to rival Brighton. So that’s what he did, by building hotels. You get a real sense of this by cruising along the clifftop road with the sea on one side, ranks of hotels on the other, and the Metropolis felt to be in its element. It even coped with the speed calming cushions, as despite the twin front wheels is easily narrow enough to thread between them.
The clifftop road ends at the pier, where we headed inland for the long haul out of town. Bournemouth might have started out as a few villages, but it’s a sprawling, congested place now, certainly good enough to test the Metro’s traffic slicing abilities. Just like the MP3, this is a big old scooter, at over two metres long, and it’s never going to have the sheer handiness of a two-wheel 125. But the size works for you in other ways. You sit high, looking over the roofs of smaller cars, and the Metro has a real presence, but it’s also still narrow enough to filter to the front of most queues, then accelerate safely away when the lights turn green.
Eventually (I said Bournemouth was big) we emerged onto a B road, cut through the market town of Wimborne and out the other side, taking another B up towards Dorset’s Cranborne Chase. The roads up here are quite fast, with a few corners thrown in, and the tarmac’s not perfect. The Metro took this all in its stride. As ever, the steering is heavier than on a two-wheeler, but there’s a solid, planted feel to the front end, just like that of the MP3. It’s what a lot of people buy tilting trikes for, and it gives tremendous confidence. That’s backed up by superb brakes – the rear lever operates front and rear together and the right one front only, but either way you get very powerful stopping, the ABS just detectable on dry tarmac. The floor pedal operates both brakes as well, but it needs far more pressure than the levers – maybe it’s just a sop to the legislation which allows car drivers to ride tilting trikes.
Peugeot’s Metropolis remains a strong contender in this small (at least in the UK) market. Tilting trikes are bigger, heavier and cost more than two-wheelers, but their road holding is worth having. For many the lure is the fact that you can ride one with nothing more than an ordinary car licence.
The Metropolis offers a few advantages over the MP3, with a flat floor, remote key and an electronic parking brake. It’s not quite as quick as Piaggio’s 500 Sport but is around £700 cheaper.
Words, Pete Henshaw, photos Peugeot and Pete Henshaw
2018 Peugeot Metropolis 400 RX-R specifications
Engine: PowerMotion 400cc, 4-stroke, 4-valve, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel injected
Power: 35.6bhp @ 7,000 rpm
Torque: 28.1 lb ft @ 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
Kerb weight: 256kg
Colours: Metallic copper, Shining Titanium, Pearly White (RS version Satin Technium, Titanium)
Price: From £8099
Contact: Peugeot Scooters
Peugeot Metropolis RX-R 400 in detail
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