Automotive

Russian city car leaves convention behind

The Mirrow Provocator is a unique take on the modern city car
The Mirrow Provocator is a unique take on the modern city car
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The Provocator is an exercise in clever space saving
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The Provocator is an exercise in clever space saving
The Provocator from all angles
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The Provocator from all angles
From the top, the car is almost square
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From the top, the car is almost square
Those side doors are emergency exits
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Those side doors are emergency exits
The Mirrow is the same length as a Smart ForTwo
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The Mirrow is the same length as a Smart ForTwo
The Mirrow has a simple underbody design
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The Mirrow has a simple underbody design
The car has a neat skateboard chassis that houses all the essential mechanical bits
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The car has a neat skateboard chassis that houses all the essential mechanical bits
Because there are no doors, the company has been able to fit a stronger cage around the passengers
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Because there are no doors, the company has been able to fit a stronger cage around the passengers
The engine won't encroach on the driver and passenger footwell in an accident
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The engine won't encroach on the driver and passenger footwell in an accident
The mechanical bits that aren't the engine are packed into the side of the underbody
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The mechanical bits that aren't the engine are packed into the side of the underbody
The chassis is designed to safely cocoon passengers, even though the car itself is small
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The chassis is designed to safely cocoon passengers, even though the car itself is small
Mirrow says there will be versions of the car sold with no windows or body panels
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Mirrow says there will be versions of the car sold with no windows or body panels
The car's cabin has seating for four, with room for luggage in the middle of the car
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The car's cabin has seating for four, with room for luggage in the middle of the car
It might look a bit different from the outside, but the driving position is reasonably conventional
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It might look a bit different from the outside, but the driving position is reasonably conventional
The wide central aisle frees up space for luggage and people to walk
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The wide central aisle frees up space for luggage and people to walk
The external body panels can be changed, depending on what color you want
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The external body panels can be changed, depending on what color you want
Mirrow says the entry level car will come without body panelling
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Mirrow says the entry level car will come without body panelling
We're a bit concerned about luggage flying around the cabin
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We're a bit concerned about luggage flying around the cabin
The Provocator can be slotted into normal kerbside spots like they're perpendicular spaces
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The Provocator can be slotted into normal kerbside spots like they're perpendicular spaces
Mirrow showed off a cooking truck version of the Provocator
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Mirrow showed off a cooking truck version of the Provocator
Mirrow envisages the car being used as a delivery van
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Mirrow envisages the car being used as a delivery van
There's plenty of space inside the Provocator for shelving and storage
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There's plenty of space inside the Provocator for shelving and storage
Drivers will have a choice between petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric power
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Drivers will have a choice between petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric power
We think the car would work well as a taxi
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We think the car would work well as a taxi
Taxi versions of the car have two extra seats
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Taxi versions of the car have two extra seats
The dickie seats at the back of the taxi Mirrow are reserved for your drunkest friends
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The dickie seats at the back of the taxi Mirrow are reserved for your drunkest friends
The Mirrow Provocator is a unique take on the modern city car
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The Mirrow Provocator is a unique take on the modern city car

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.

The external body panels can be changed, depending on what color you want
The external body panels can be changed, depending on what color you want

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.

The car has a neat skateboard chassis that houses all the essential mechanical bits
The car has a neat skateboard chassis that houses all the essential mechanical bits

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.

The engine won't encroach on the driver and passenger footwell in an accident
The engine won't encroach on the driver and passenger footwell in an accident

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.

Source: Mirrow

23 comments
VincentWolf
Make it all electric and they'll have even more room and a 'frunk' in front.
butkus
The special attention to front passengers' legs is commendable, but pushing them so tightly against the sides seems like a rather unreasonable thing to do regarding side impact safety, even with a rollcage.
Bob Stuart
So, we all climb in over the cargo? In the city, excess frontal area is not really expensive on fuel, but it can make you very slow in traffic. I'd rather see this split into three or more narrow vehicles that can work together or separately. It is hard to meet the sensible goal of 50% payload with an empty seat.
Joe Blough
Does it run on Pollonium?
andysuth
You say: "Russian city car leaves convention behind" I say: "Russian city car leaves aesthetics behind" Man, it's ugly! Looks like a cyberman mask before the scientists got it right.
Jose Gros
A clever design, this: 'Provocator' from Russia, It reminds me the Dutch 'Provos', nice people, and both my: 'Wide Small Car', an AMC Pacer, and the: 'University of Michigan Urban Vehicle', SAE paper 730512. Do they still conduct research in Wankel Engines in Russia? Does it make any sense in a rear wheels steering for this type of car? It would reduce space needs in front, an engine hidden under seats, driving front power wheels through a Quad style differential and axle may go...
ljaques
Not the prettiest car I've seen, but sure looks functional. The Russkies have combined the SmartCar with a pickup truck and the looks/shape of a Scion xB. I wonder if you can leave the back hatch open to put in longer lumber, when in p/u mode. GREAT price for a city car, but I sure wouldn't want to take one on the freeway.
JimmyXi
Apple buy these folks and 'bring it'. Go Russkies! Jim
Bob Flint
Offer a pop up 6 seater, and don't they have typical mall type parking lots, this would waste a lot of space in that configuration especially when mixing with regular vehicles. Does look very solid, almost too solid, where are the crumple zones? You will get bashed around and even with those five point harnesses, your body will bear the brunt of the impact and rebounding off other objects.
dsiple
Yay! Something to replace the Yugo!
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