Geneva Motor Show - Toyota’s i-Tril concept is intended to show that electric vehicles can be fun to drive as well as being environmentally friendly.

It’s small (just three metres long) and agile (it’ll do a U-turn in a space four metres wide) and aimed straight at city dwellers who move around a lot - taking children to school and extra-mural activities, shopping, eating out and socialising.

It seats three in a compact one-plus-two layout, weighs just 600kg and is driven by an electric motor; Toyota says it’s aiming at a range of 200km between charges.

But the crazy thing about this little pod-like little car is that it leans into corners like as motorcycle. Previous experience with the single-seater i-Road has taught Toyota that 10 degrees of lean gives the best combination of stability, grip and driving pleasure, so the body and the front wheels automatically tilt as far as that angle going into corners, while the driven rear wheels stay perpendicular to the road.

The i-Tril concept is capable of driving itself, but Toyota says it’s been designed to be so much fun to drive that you’ll want to do most of the driving yourself.

There are no pedals; steering, acceleration and braking are are controlled via drive-by-wire control nodes similar to electronic game controllers. There’s also no instrument panel; all the driving information is on a head-up display, and the infotainment system is based entirely on voice control.

When the i-Tril is driving itself, the control nodes automatically retract into the driving module, which is then stowed in the dashboard - but then the ends of the dashboard light up on the left or right whenever the car turns into a corner, to let everybody aboard know which way it’s about to lean.

The butterfly doors are hinged on the sloping A pillars, and they include a section of floor to make stepping out of the swivelling front seats easier.

The interior is finished almost entirely in recycled materials, with front-seat trim in alcantara synthetic suede, rear seats in fabric and a wooden floor finish, to make the cabin feel more like an inner-city living space than a car.

IOL Motoring

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