Nice car at the Motor Show

18 July 2006

Nice Car Mega CityThe Nice Car Company unveiled its new electric city car at the London Motor Show today. It's called the Mega City - which may prompt a lawyergram from the owners of the Judge Dredd comic-book franchise - and is a polished-looking product. It bears much closer examination that a G-Wiz, for example. The show cars had better panel fit, better panels, proper windows and proper door seals, for example. And the lead-acid power pack uses a gel rather than liquid acid format, apparently, removing the need to top up with distilled water, as G-Wiz owners must occasionally do.

We grabbed a word with Lawrence Holland, UK manager of Aixam, which makes the cars in France. He claims the Mega City will leave the G-Wiz in the dust when it comes to moving under its own steam, so to speak. "We've tested a G-Wiz and couldn't get near its claimed top speed," Holland asserted, suggesting that about 30mph equals flat out in the popular wheeled plastic pig. And of course he confidently predicted that the Mega City would hit its claimed "40+mph" without incident. However, Holland was no doubt talking about the old direct-current (DC) G-Wiz, the new AC version claims 45mph and should give the newcomer a run for its money.

Not that top speed is really important when navigating the Mega City's target environment: London's congestion zone. Here, 200bhp hot hatches struggle to outpace toddlers on tricycles. Range is of more interest, and here the makers claim 40-50 miles. The new-and-improved AC G-Wiz claims "up to 48 miles", meanwhile.

Potential buyers will not be able to verify any of these details for a while yet - the first Mega City test drives will not be available until October, and the first customer deliveries will not hit London's pot-holed boulevards until November at the earliest.

One thing is certain: the Mega City will cost more than the G-Wiz. Mega City prices will start at £9,995 (the same as the silly-looking, slower Maranello4). A basic G-Wiz, meanwhile, can be had for a pound under seven grand.

The Mega City does have some form: in France a petrol- or diesel powered version is sold as the A751, and that car is apparently "the only vehicle in its category [to have] passed all the conventional car crash tests (head-on crash tests, rear crash tests, side crash tests, ISO chicane, surge chicane, slalom)." Which should prove reassuring to potential owners, even if the lead batteries might upset the slalom results.Scouty at the show

As a final parting shot, it should be noted that Aixam also makes a targa-topped version of the A751, called the Scouty. A bright orange example of which adorned the Nice stand at the motor show. So no prizes for guessing what will be the second Nice model to go on sale in time for next spring...

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