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Toyota i-Road reviewBack

Toyotai-RoadThe Toyota i-Road is an entirely unique concept which, in the words of its creator, combines “the manoeuvrability of a motorbike, with the economy and stability of a small family car.”

It’s no wonder that this latest model has seen journalists queuing in their droves to test it out, mainly for the experience and ultimate fun-factor of Akihiro Yanaka’s latest creation.

Classified as a ‘scooter’ in the UK, the Toyota i-Road is a tandem two seat three-wheel vehicle which must be tilted at bends and is steered from the rear by a tiny single wheel.

The Toyota i-Road is propelled along by a pair of electric motors located within its front wheels. Unfortunately, it has a slightly disappointing top speed of just 28mph although in Japan this reaches slightly more at 37mph. Its range is just over 30 miles when driven with restraint, and it takes 3 hours to recharge.

Built and designed to fit perfectly into urban lifestyle, Toyota plans to trial the i-Road in both Toyota city near Nagoya and in Grenoble in south France before its official release alongside a 70-strong fleet of tiny electric tandem two-seater cars in autumn next year.

The i-Road has been styled to make a lasting impression on its admirers, maintaining the same concept it appeared in at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show to include a ‘50s locomotive style Cyclops headlight, slender casings that cap its tilting front wheels and a horizontal strip of its tail-lights.

It has the same width as a motorbike, and at 850mm wide it can easily weave its way through city streets whilst only taking up one quarter of the parking space of a single car. There is no heating or ventilation system installed in the i-Road but the upper glass sections of the three quarter-height doors which stop a few inches short of the roof provide some weather proofing.

Inspiration for the i-Road came from the movement people make when they are skiing through a turn, and if you’ve ever skied you’ll recognise this manoeuvre well. Even at low speeds, the i-Road feels exhilarating to drive as it swoops into bends with the tilting feeling quite natural.

It’s easy to drive or ride as there are just two pedals, a foot operated park brake, a push button transmission and a few simple instruments, but increase the speed and the real fun really begins enabling you to cut through traffic like a motorbike and sweep through corners.

It’s a long time before the i-Road makes it to the showroom floor with Toyota execs predicting it will need at least 3-4 years further development before it is ready to hits the roads. But there is no doubt that the public’s reaction to this engaging form of transport is extremely encouraging.


Posted by Leana Kell on 18/10/2013