Toyota iRoad electric pod review (2013 onwards) MSN Cars UK

30 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Toyota iRoad electric pod review (2013 onwards) MSN Cars UK отключены
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Toyota i-Road electric pod review (2013 onwards)

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Toyota i-Road concept car (2013): summary

We ride in the electric Toyota trike, which aims to overhaul how we travel around cities in the future


Toyota has built a sci-fi vision of what we’ll all be driving around our megacities in future — and it’s the i-Road, an electric trike with space for two. MSN Cars had an exclusive ride on-board the concept car at the recent Geneva Motor Show 2013 — and here’s our first ride review. It features in our video round-up of the weird and wonderful cars from the show at the foot of the page, too.

This is a compact, three-wheeled personal mobility pod with space for two passengers under its slimline roof. Think along the lines of the BMW C1 scooter-with-a-canopy, but with an extra wheel for added security — and the i-Road’s electrically powered, making it ideal for these carbon-crunched times. It should be cheap to run and emissions-free.

Toyota i-Road: first impressions

Walk up to a Toyota i-Road and you’ll wonder if you’ve strayed into the props department of a George Lucas movie. Its styling is futuristic and head-turningly different to anything else out there. This is also a very compact car — at just 850mm wide, it’s no broader than your typical motorbike.

So it should be a cinch to thread it through narrow gaps in the traffic or drive along a pavement. Toyota reckons that you can fit four i-Roads in a single parking bay, meaning our crowded towns could become a whole lot easier to park in if we all drove around in one of these.

Climb onboard, and it feels incredibly narrow and the way it whizzes in and out of its compact Geneva garage leaves us in no doubt that this car will be incredibly easy to park. It should be because it’s minuscule: just 2,350mm long and 1,445mm high.

Toyota i-Road: performance

Being fully electric, the i-Road enjoys that typically rapid, slingshot acceleration that only an electric motor can give. Two 2kW motors are mounted in the front wheels and powered by a lithium-ion battery — they deliver maximum torque from the word go, giving instant thrust when you need it. The i-Road has mercifully simple controls to operate, with a conventional steering wheel rather than a handlebar like on a motorbike.

We only did a few laps around Toyota’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show, but even so, the acceleration was urgent — as well as silent. If this car were to go into production, it’d need an artificial noise generator to stop you mowing down pedestrians who’d have no idea that a two-seater mobility pod was creeping up on them. You can see the i-Road in action by watching our video of the weird and wonderful cars from the Geneva Motor Show below.


Toyota i-Road: ride and handling

Here’s the i-Road’s trump card: Toyota calls it Active Lean technology and it’s a system which keeps the i-Road stable, no matter how fast you’re going in corners. The front wheels are pushed up and down by a computer to make the i-Road lean into a corner like a motorbike. Microchips calculate how much lean is required, then a balancing gyroscope and actuators are used to lean the bodywork, counteracting centrifugal forces of cornering. Sounds complicated; in reality it works seamlessly in the background and all you notice from the passenger seat is some incredible angles of lean (visible if you click through our gallery of photos above).

It feels remarkably stable and planted, even as we perform figures of eight in front of a gaping crowd.

A handy spin-off benefit of Active Lean tech is that you can mount kerbs without toppling the car on its side or rattling your teeth out. They’re simply swallowed up by the active suspension. And the i-Road stands upright when you come to a standstill, unlike a two-wheeler.

Note also the tiny turning circle of just 3m: it’ll spin around tight corners nearly within its own body length. Eat your heart out, black cab drivers.

Toyota i-Road: interior

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Let’s not beat about the bush: climbing into a Toyota i-Road might feel like you’re stepping into the future, but it also feels a little bit like you’re scrambling onto a motorbike. Even Toyota can’t mess with the laws of physics and its bijou stature means it’s small and cramped in here. There are only semi-skinned doors, so you’ll be partly exposed to the elements.

You sit in tandem, one behind the other, and because of that windscreen and protective roof there’s no need to wear a helmet. The driver enjoys a great view out, but space in the rear is limited to children or smaller adults, whose legs are splayed awkwardly around the drive in front. It’s all very cosy.

The way the bodywork wraps around the rear of the i-Road means it’s pretty claustrophobic in the rear, too, with a poor view out.


Toyota i-Road: economy and safety

Because this is a concept car, there are few detailed breakdowns available of its energy consumption. But there are zero tailpipe emissions, since the only carbon gobbled up by the i-Road is whatever’s ingested by the power station at the end of your electric plug supply. Toyota quotes a range of 30 miles and claims that recharging from a domestic power point takes just three hours.

You don’t need much juice, because the i-Road is so light.

The Active Lean technology means the i-Road feels secure when driving along. And the extra bodywork, roof and doors make this far safer than a motorbike; Toyota claims a full gamut of safety equipment such as airbags could be fitted should this car ever reach production, alongside niceties such as lighting, heating, hi-fi and Bluetooth communication tech.

The MSN Cars verdict

Never underestimate Toyota, one of the world’s biggest car makers. It’s been developing so-called personal mobility vehicles for a decade and is actively working on a variety of powerplants for use in different vehicle types. So while hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell cars are best suited to longer distance trips out of town, electric cars are best for around-town hops — and its crystal ball gazers think these personal mobility vehicles are what we’ll use on the last bit of the journey.

We’ve seen enough Toyota urban micro concept cars that we’d wager it’s only a matter of time before it builds one for real. Yes, most people have working legs and can walk in to the office, but not everyone does, or wants to. And for less mobile people, or those in a rush, this is a fascinating alternative to a scooter or motorbike.

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