A few weeks ago my good mate Nick Broughall gave me a call. Long story short, “Damo, do you want to go to Japan to cover Toyota and the Tokyo Motorshow for Giz?”. Despite having literally just been there a couple of weeks ago I said yes. Why? Because Toyota make some very cool cars (and some rather vanilla ones). I was excited. Maybe I would get to test the Blade hot hatch, or perhaps I would get to drive a Lexus ISF.
Toyota didn’t get that memo apparently. As I sat in my first car to test drive, the Toyota eCom, I thanked Nick many times over for making me wake up at 4am to catch my Monday morning 10 hour flight on a plane I'm sure JAL won in a raffle. I kid, it wasn't that bad, I just like bitching.
The Toyota eCom is the definition of frugal driving. It's the car the environment would drive if it were a person with a drivers license. The environment is too weak to steal its parent’s drivers license and take an ISF for a spin, after all, but I digress.
The eCom is completely electric, and completely silent when you turn it on. I had to check twice that it was on before moving. And despite its size and engine power to match, it was extremely responsive. Sure, it doesn’t go more than around 100km from a charge, and if you took it down the F3 you would almost certainly die from being run over by an 18-wheeler, but for city driving, the eCom was quite cool. It also weighs less than 800kg!
Inside it’s a bit sparse. Think Toyota Echo from 1999 and you have the feeling minus the space age giant mid-dash of the Echo. But it was able to fit two tall-ish adults without any problems and would have a small space in the back for groceries too.
Don’t expect to see these cars around town though. But as a future solution to our crowded city streets (are you listening Sydney and Melbourne), this kind of car would be great. Every now and then you see them in the streets of Tokyo so they do get the job done.
P.S. Appreciate the comments made on posts I've been penning. Unfortunately because I'm out and about most of the day I don't get to respond to them so a kudos to the following people for some good advice rather than the regular comments I get elsewhere that are usually laced with abuse! Victor, bobbodaclown, David, Sacca, Jordan West, Mat Perovic. I would also like to thanks Susan Sarandon and my Mum.
Damian Francis is the editor-at-large for Australian T3 and contributing technology editor for GQ Australia. He is in Japan as a guest of Toyota Australia.