London Taxi Cab – Circa 1803

Public transport was never meant to be glamorous (queue Fergie music) except of course for the Concorde and things like the Orient Express, but that’s really about where it ended. I’m sure the Concorde was a masterpiece to fly, a technological marvel, and the Orient Express had the latest steam technology available at that day and age. Not so much with the public transport vehicle it seems. Apparently the engineers of the London Cab decided that the minimum wage eastern European who would be driving it, has always been driving a horse drawn cart, so this is all they need to live up to when engineering this transportation masterpiece.

Starting with the engine, a 2.4litre diesel, which I’m sure at some stage must have been turbocharged, but now has less grunt than a Bulls scrumhalf. It’ll do 100km/h down a mineshaft, but a road with any gradient sees you losing speed, rather than gaining or maintaining for that matter. Legs out the bottom traveling like a flintstone would definitely be faster.

Secondly … (aaah two… the number of gears that seems to have been fixed into this gearbox) the automatic gearbox that comes with this beauty seems to have two gears, high, and lo. It’s like those old remote control cars you used to have as a kid. Fun when you’re puttering along in stop-start traffic next to the London eye, not so fun when you’re merging up onto the N1 slower than a one legged cyclist.

The engine probably isn’t that bad, it’s just that every panel for this car seems to have been cast in the fires of Mordor… out of lead. Opening a door onto someone will literally shatter every bone in their body… instantly.
The fun however does not stop there. London is a relatively flat space and the chance of you taking a corner faster than the pedestrian next to you is walking, is rather slim. Jozi, however, has plenty of space for these twists and turns that can be taken at speed above 5km/h. The London Cab was thus obviously built using the most sophisticated railway sleepers as chassis and pink marshmellows as suspension. It’s a masterpiece really. Turn the corner and you get to see what the world looks like from a different angle. You’re already so high up in the drivers seat, that turning a corner with any form of gusto could potentially throw you out the car. It’s something that closely resembles the trawlers in the deepest darkest storm on ‘Deadliest Catch’.

One, and only one plus, is that it has the turning circle of a rabbit at full tilt. It was designed to do a full u-turn in a london city street, and by Jove, it can do it in a alleyway behind Seven-11

As a final pie’ce-de-resistance, slamming on the brakes is something like pressing a wooden spoon against the turning axle. The best part of driving the London Taxi is seeing the fear in your passengers eyes as you attempt to slow this technological marvel before plowing into the nearest stationary object.

So it’s slow, it corners like the ark, and uses stationary objects to bring it to a halt. Awesome. It was never made to be a real driver’s car, but that said, it was still made to be a car, on the road, and it seems to fall short on so many of those important “car” points that I can’t warrant giving it anything more than a 2/10.

Death on wheels