Wreckered road test
I took the 3-wheel Semi-Tone for a spin around the crowded streets
of Glasgow and found myself both delighted and disgusted by this
car. Overall, and there is not a lot of all anywhere over this car,
it delivers what it says on the tin - tremendous fuel economy at
the expense of style, looks, power and reliability.
Yes, you can park it between two fat women talking in a bus shelter
and yes, the whole thing will fit in the back of a Luton van -but
could you really cope with the amount of dog's abuse, laughter and
finger-pointing which would bedevil every mile of every journey
you ever make? I put it to the test..
On the road
This is no ordinary 3-wheel car. The back tyres have been
replaced by a galvanised synthetic-rubber coated tube which
wraps around the back axle like sponge around the ice cream
in an old-fashioned Arctic Roll. While this innovation provides
great stability, turning round corners takes half an hour.
In the car park outside our offices, I spent most of Tuesday
morning doing a three point turn trying to get the bastard
to face the street.
Eventually we got rolling and found the car
to be a very pleasant ride. The big wide back tyre brought
not only comfort, but grudgingly admiring glances from a group
of Hells Angels who up till then had been driving alongside
and throwing pies at me.
280 bhp at 40 km/h in 0-60 at 24.8 seconds delivers a respectable
1st set lead of 5 games to 3 with only the pink to think of
in a built up zone.
In the cabin
The Semi-Tone comes standard as a 2 seater. A surprising 38cm
of space between the driver's head rest and the back window
leaves adequate space for biscuits or a lizard.
It is in the cabin that the ecological New Age
innovations are most apparent. A preset sensor in the steering
wheel senses road rage onset by monitoring heart and pulse
rate and passing instruction to a series of "calming"
devices. When road rage levels are likely, a soothing ylang-
ylang moisturiser is sprayed in microscopic mist over the
driver's face. The usual horn sound is replaced by sixteen
bars of whale song.
In keeping with the bio-degradable philosophy of the Semi-Tone,
the dashboard is made of wax, the gear stick is made out of
a carbon sealed banana and the seats are stuffed with the
charity shop clothes so horrible that even the most destitute
had said "No thanks".
This car's aspirations are worthy, but it looks like a pile
of crap and it drives like a tank using mogadon for fuel.
Save your money and your self respect - get the bus.