At the moment, most city cars are shrunken versions of your average family hatchback. They're smaller and a bit smarter, but ultimately they follow the design and manufacturing conventions handed down from their bulkier brethren. Russian company Mirrow has thrown these conventions out the (rear) door with the Provocator city car concept.
As the exception to the rule, some designers out there are taking a fresh approach to squeezing lots of space out of a small car. Designers like Gordon Murray or Malyshev Alexander, who has refined his OneDoorCar into the created the Mirrow Provocator.
Measuring up at 2.7 m (8.86 ft) long and 1.98 m (6.5 ft) wide, the Provocator has been designed to maximize interior space. That means it's almost as wide as the Mercedes GLE, but exactly the same length as a Smart ForTwo. Regardless of who you ask, that's an odd combination, but there's a method to Mirrow's madness.
Instead of using four conventional doors along the side of the car, there's one central rear door giving access to a wide, aircraft-style central aisle. There are small openings along the side of the Provocator, but they're only designed to be used in an emergency, where the rear door might be damaged or blocked.
According to the team behind it, this quirky design was chosen because it leaves room to fit a rally-style rollcage, making for a stiff, light structure that should keep passengers safe from all angles.
One of the most difficult things to do in a frontal impact accident is keep the engine from protruding into the passenger area, but Mirrow says the Provocator's motor is mounted in line with the wide central aisle, which makes it less likely to crush the front passengers legs in a serious impact. Considering this focus on safety, it seems a little odd that airbags, ABS and ESP will be optional should the car ever see the light of day.
Just like Gordon Murray's T.25 and T.27, the Provocator is conceived with two different powertrains in mind. If you're after a more traditional experience, Mirrow says there will be turbocharged 1.5-liter diesel and petrol engines available, which would be able to to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.7 seconds. In keeping with its futuristic design and construction, Mirrow also says it will offer hybrid and electric versions offering up to 400 km (248.5 mi) of range.
As if the car's square stance wasn't eye-catching enough, Mirrow is planning on offering polymer body panels in three different colors, although base model cars will come without windows or extra panels. They also do without the full rear door – instead, they'll be sold with what looks like a miniature gate.
The interior has room for four people and their baggage, thanks to that uniquely square layout. Rather than eating into rear-seat space by fitting a traditional boot, luggage sits in the central aisle. It certainly looks like a clever solution in the images provided, but we're a bit worried that bags could go flying around the cabin if you get too rough with the steering.
So, who's going to buy one? Well, the idea of being able to park perpendicular into regular kerbside parking spots sounds enticing, but we're not sure private buyers will be overly keen to jump directly into this brave new world. The Mirrow's unique design might be of more use in the world of taxis, where its space efficient design makes it easy for passengers to get in and out, no matter how many pints they've had to drink.
It would appear we're not the only ones who've had this thought, because Mirrow has pictures of a Provocator that's been extended by 70 cm (27.6 in) for taxi companies on its website. The taxi version also gets an extra two seats in the back, although we're not sure how much legroom is afforded by their inward facing design.
Prices are expected to start at €3500 (US$3981), but we won't know any more until later this year, when Mirrow says pricing, engine and design specifications will be available.
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