By on April 26, 2010

What happens when the man behind the McLaren F1 decides to chuck in the go-fast nonsense and devote his considerable energies towards developing a “revolutionary” city car? You’re looking at it. Autocar caught this first image of Gordon Murray‘s three-seat T.25 testing in the UK, and from the looks of it, all the talk of this car creating a new segment wasn’t just talk. We knew it was going to be small, but my god is it ever small. And, as Autocar reports, this first image of the T.25’s near-production look shows off one of its most distinctive features:

Our exclusive photograph shows the car’s compact dimensions and reveals the revolutionary single door for the first time. It swings upwards and forwards to allow cabin access for all three occupants.

That’s right, a swinging single-door design, and Mclaren F1-style “arrowhead” seating. What did you expect, a rebadged Toyota iQ?

Not that the T.25 is being designed to be flashy or sporty. The single-door design is likely a result of the iStream production system, which Murray designed in parallel with the T.25. With an emphasis on efficiency and flexibility, the iStream process will be used to assemble the T.25, starting with a complete chassis, and adding pre-painted body components. Murray’s vision is for a single factory to be able to produce near-infinite variations of body styles and powertrains on a single chassis, allowing the vehicle to evolve with changing energy technologies. And part of that vision means the T.25 has to be light: under 1,400 lbs, according to Autocar.

Murray’s utopian vision of an endlessly variable, iconic city car has to start somewhere though, and this body matched to a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder engine is going to be the point of entry. With such a light body though, Murray promises the T.25 will boast a better power-to-weight ratio than the average “two litre luxury saloon.” Whether that holds up with the full compliment of three passengers and two “large suitcases” remains to be seen, but the T.25’s appeal isn’t going to based on performance alone.

Clearly inspired by London’s infamous congestion, Murray has designed the T.25 to fit two-abreast into UK traffic lanes, theoretically reducing congestion provided enough are on the road. In fact, he says he designed it with congestion foremost in his mind; emissions benefits, he says, were almost an afterthought. And what’s more exciting, trying to drive a supercar in speed camera-crazed Britain, or wondering if the car next to you is going to stay in his half of the lane?

Murray wants to start selling T.25’s in two years, and will likely be showing variant body styles sometime next year. Meanwhile, development is already underway on the T.27 EV version, with help from a $14m grant from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. But Murray likely won’t bring T.25s to the mass market himself: he’s hinted that he’d prefer to license iStream plants near major metropolitan centers around the world. How exactly that will pan out is still very much an open question, but the sheer ambition of the project makes it impossible to ignore. Especially from a guy of Murray’s talent. Decades after the F1 was built, it’s still a force to be reckoned with. Where could this tiny, one-door wonder end up?

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15 Comments on “Murray T.25 City Car Caught Testing...”

  • avatar

    I drive about 5 miles to work each day, with a max speed of 55 MPH for about 1.5 miles of that drive. If this was really inexpensive (like under $5k), it’ll be all I need…but when decent five year old used cars can be had for cheap, this kind of car will be a hard sell anywhere outside of cities like London (much less here in America).

    • 0 avatar

      If it’s small enough to perpendicular park two to a regular parking lot, it could fill a niche in a city like SF. The upward opening door means they can be parked very close together while still allowing people to get in and out.

      The “urban, environmentally conscious” political classes here would love nothing more than the ability to split some strategically placed parking spaces in half. In effect reserving them for themselves and their fellow travelers, without explicitly “discriminating” against those without the financial means to plop down money for the latest automotive fashion accessory. After all, in our brave new world of progressive governance, the “needs” a product must serve to be successful, are increasingly going to be needs resulting primarily from regulations, rather than anything innate to the market at hand. Hence, that is how producers will have to respond, if they want to stay afloat.

      Otherwise, as far as the US is concerned, I just don’t see it. A car narrow enough to shoot gaps where no police cruiser can follow, does hold some appeal to the street racer in me, though :) And it is a Murray design, darnit!

  • avatar

    Could be fun. Might have a hell of a time with U.S. safety regs, though. And it’s not cute, so it wouldn’t even have the smart’s chance in the U.S. market. So I’m guessing we’ll never see it here.

    • 0 avatar

      And yet it almost certainly will provide more protection that any motorcycle.
      But Nanny government knows better than its humble subjects.

    • 0 avatar

      @ChuckR – good point; but I think this car will be replacing other cars, rather than motorcylces.

      Is it called a “T.25” because it’s about 0.25 the size of a regular car??

  • avatar

    Agreed. Unless it’s dirt cheap AND super efficient (a lot more efficient than a Smart), the only real advantage to this car will be it’s ability to squeeze into a parking space and drive through narrow European alleys. It’ll have limited appeal in the US, especially at 1/3 the weight of cars that are likely to crash into you.

    If it’s cheap though, this could be seen as a safer, weather-proof alternative to a motorcycle. A spare car. An impulse buy. It’ll have to be less than half the price of a Smart though.

    • 0 avatar

      absolutely right. the target demographic would be smart car people. and the smart gets the same mpg as a civic and costs almost as much. so this would need to get 50+mpg and have a way better transmission than the smart car.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    For what it is designed to do, I’m betting it does it really well, hopefully better than the smart. on many levels you have to respect the idea of something that is so bare bones but exactly what you need and nothing else for a daily commute in and around the city…it seems poetic, elegant or just really sweet engineering.

    heck yes I want to drive side by side with one of these and maxing it out at 65 or so…better than any morning cup of joe i can think of

  • avatar

    Great – another car that can’t be parked inside a garage, because the garage ceiling is too low to permit the door to open.

  • avatar

    When I saw the name “Murray” in the headline, I thought for a moment you were speaking of the company that maks lawnmowers. I guess I wasn’t too far off track.

  • avatar

    While safety is far from the primary issue here, I’ve got to wonder. . . instead of fearing for less safety, if there’s sufficient seatbelt and airbag internal precautions, isn’t the substantially less mass of this vehicle going to create far less violence in collisions? Also, given current brake/tire technology, it will be able to stop far better than traditional cars too.

    I’m sure it’s not all peaches and creme on the safety front, but there’s always more than one side of the story. . .

    • 0 avatar

      The tires and brakes will have coefficients of friction similar to other cars. Everything will just be smaller. Performance will probably be similar to a Smart or Civic.

      The light weight will make collisions far less violent for whoever hits you in their massive SUV. Your T.25 will absorb the extra damage.

      F=ma. If a 1500 pound car and a 3000 pound car hit each other head-on, all else being equal the 1500 pound car will decelerate twice as much as the 3000 pound car in the same amount of time. However, the 3000 pound car probably has at LEAST double the crumple space, so now the tiny car has to deccelerate at 4x the rate. Airbags will help make this more survivable, but they aren’t a panacea.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    The problem with the Smart is not anything about its design, or even its mileage; the problem is that for the same price you can buy a Korean sedan with a lot more space and content. Unless they beat the price by a mile this will peter out too.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    This with a ZX-14 engine in 3… 2… 1…

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