Very cute and a lot of fun, but too uncomfortable to be a serious everyday proposition
25 November 2005

Driving through central London in a car that resembles a talking truck from Bob the Builder probably isn’t such a good idea – the opportunity for gangs of ASBO-wielding kids to turn it over and set fire too it are rather high. But Noel Edmonds maintains that the Qpods he imports from France are ideal for city traffic. Think of it as a quad bike with doors and a windscreen. The City model is Congestion Charge exempt in London and can be driven without a licence (it’s classed as a scooter). The single-cylinder 340cc four-stroke Lombardini engine, stutters into life with a characteristic one-pot thud – select forward or reverse with the stubby pull up/push down gear lever and hang on. The steering is, er, direct, little more than a handlebar attached to a pair of track rods connected straight to the wheels. And heavy, there’s no gearing between you and those chubby tyres. It’s quite a laugh to drive, once you’ve accepted the overwhelming feeling of vulnerability that naturally accompanies piloting something so small. The brakes are quick and effective, visibility is obviously superb and the minimal turning circle means pulling U-turns is easy. But it’s less easy to adjust to the attention it attracts: all good-natured, but relentless, and on a daily basis it would become very tiresome very quickly. And it’s not really cut out for city driving. It’s not narrow enough to nip through stationary traffic like a scooter, and because you’re low down, you’re breathing fumes all the time. The driving position is hopeless and using the twist grip throttle for more than an hour is bad news for the wrist. So no, Noel, the Qpod is not a very good city car. It’s fun, and different, and I can only begin to contemplate how good it would be off-road, but it’s not an everyday proposition. It’s expensive, too, at £4929. You can buy a proper (used) motor for that or, if you were so inclined, a brand new Perodua Kelisa. Perhaps Noel has a point - maybe if we all drove Qpods the roads would be a happier place. Unlikely, I know, but then again so is the idea of a giant pink and yellow amorphous lump called Mr Blobby getting a number one single, and he’s managed that before. Dan Stevens

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