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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.