Toyota i-Road First Drive Review
The adorable Toyota i-Road electric vehicle is in production now.
Soon, the i-Road will see limited use in Toyota City under an EV-sharing program.
Yes, the public will soon be able to drive this leaning electric machine.
Is the public capable enough to drive such a radical electric?
According to Autocar’s recent i-Road review, the answer is yes…sort of…or it depends.
It’s the leaning aspect of the i-Road that makes it so unique and it’s that same feature that requires a skilled (or at least one without fear of falling over) drive behind the wheel.
Let’s now move on to what Autocar stated:
“A tandem two seat three-wheeler, it tilts into bends while being steered from the rear by a tiny single wheel. Propulsion comes from a pair of electric motors located within the front wheels. In the UK it would be classified as a scooter, allowing it has a slightly disappointing 28mph top speed – for Japan this climbs to a more exciting 37mph – and has a range of just over 30 miles when driven with a bit of restraint, and 25 miles if you can’t resist extracting the most of its darting charms. It takes three hours to recharge.”
“Its mechanicals are no less interesting than its looks. The slender front wheels are jointed to a yoke system that allows them to tilt – imagine a see-saw with a pair of vertical struts descending to the wheel hubs from either end – while the rear wheel steers at a variable rate depending on your speed, turning more tightly for a given lock at lower speeds. Manoeuvrability is the key.”
“With two motors up front the i-Road needs quite a complex control system in order that they don’t fight each other in a straight line, besides enabling one to spin more slowly than the other in a turn.”
“Not only do you feel the exhilaration of swooping into a bend – even at these relatively low speeds – but it also looks a little like it’s slaloming when you see it from the roadside. Tilting feels curiously natural, although Yanaka says that those unfamiliar with motorbikes, or skiing, sometimes feel intimidated. But it feels completely stable.”
“It’s also very easy to drive – ride? – there being just two pedals (plus a foot-operated park brake) a pushbutton transmission and simple instruments. The steering wheel is almost square, there being little need for shuffling because the i-Road’s lock tightens at lower speeds. That means that you have to judge how slowly you need to go to round a tighter corner – too fast and it will scribe a wider line – but at least it has a reverse gear.”
Seems a bit too tricky for public use. Don’t you think?
Fortunately, only a limited amount of people will get to drive this i-Road, as Toyota has not yet signed off on it for full-swing production.
However, Toyota is saying that the i-Road is under consideration for full-blown production. If that happens, it won’t be for 3 to 4 years, which will give Toyota time to tweak the i-Road to make it more suitable for use by even the most inexperienced drivers.
Editor’s Note: Toyota has said that the i-Road currently in limited production will lose a set…making it a 1-seater (obv). We also have added the below video of the i-Road in action (complete with dancers) from its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show for your enjoyment.