Carver One

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's the new three wheeled Carver One, but is it One to steer clear of?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

With its amazing tilting body, the Carver One offers a truly unique driving experience. Part motorcycle, part aeroplane, it's lots of fun, no matter if you're on a twisty road or in a town centre. And if you like being stared at, few cars draw as big a crowd. However, while every drive is a thrill, we can't get away from the fact that it is very expensive at nearly £30,000.

Here's a three-wheeler you can really bank on! Say hello to the Carver One: a sports car with a cockpit that actually tilts into corners. It promises a unique mix of motorbike and aeroplane, but can it really be worth nearly £30,000? We 'rolled with it' to see if drivers should pitch in and buy one, or steer clear.

Designed by Dutch firm Vandenbrink and developed with help from engineering firm Prodrive, the Carver One is the first of a new wave of three-wheelers. Similarly driver-focused models from VW and BMW are under development.

Using a steel chassis, the Carver One has a 68bhp 660cc turbocharged Daihatsu engine, which drives 15-inch rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. Up front, a single 17-inch motorbike tyre does the steering. Inside, there are two comfortable racing seats in tandem, and a removable roof.

It's no surprise that the Carver One turns heads even when stationary, and on the move, it gets even weirder. As well as passive rear steering, a hydraulic damper controls the angle of the body. The faster you turn the steering wheel, the more it leans into corners.

It certainly takes some getting used to. At first you find yourself tensing up, expecting the car to roll in the opposite direction. But you soon learn to lean into corners and before you know it, you're sweeping through bends with the wing mirrors almost scraping the tarmac. Changes of direction are instant, and chicanes brilliant fun!

Adding to the experience is an array of dashboard lights, which go from green to red (sounding a warning buzzer) as the body reaches its 45-degree maximum tilt angle. Yet while the Carver One generally feels rooted to the road, the front wheel limits its abilities. You have to avoid bumps - these cause the car to skip off-line.

Other downsides are a vague gearbox and an engine that runs out of pull at 6,000rpm - even though it can rev to 9,000rpm. Still, it does 0-60mph in eight seconds, and there's an ECU up-grade which takes power to 85bhp and the top speed from 114 to 141mph!

However, the biggest downside is the price. At £27,624, the Carver One costs as much as a Lotus Elise. There's no doubt that it's a unique experience, but it would make more sense at half the price. Still, UK importers are confident they'll have no trouble meeting their target of 200 sales this year.

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