Absolutely cabulous
19 October 2006

Never mind the new Mini – when it comes to British icons, it's hard to beat the black cab. And though you may struggle to notice from the pictures, this is a new taxi – the LTI TX4.

The new black cab can still do a U-turn in 25 feet, but it finally now has both anti-lock brakes and a Euro IV emissions-compliant engine. It also has better air conditioning and better access for disabled passengers.

The TX4 uses a four-cylinder 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine made by Italian firm VM Motori. The new engine links to either a five-speed Eaton manual gearbox or a five-speed Chrysler auto. Around 70 per cent of LTI taxis are autos.

LTI is the largest British-owned car manufacturer operating in the UK – it produces around 30,000 cabs a year and employs around 400 people at its Coventry factory. But just like another well-known car from the Midlands, taxis are soon to be made in China.

For once, however, this isn't bad news – it's a great British success story. Earlier this month LTI signed a deal with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to create a joint company and build the taxi in Shanghai. Anyone know the Chinese for "You'll never believe who I had in the back of my cab"?

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