Vehicles with a good trio of wheels are actually a great oddity, unless we’re referring to three-wheeled taxis - dubbed tuk-tuks found in Thailand and auto rickshaws found in India. My only past hands-on exposure to such a contraption was via the retro-laced Morgan Three-Wheeler in 2014, and I’m having flashbacks to that road test as I first lay eyes on the similarly offbeat Vanderhall Venice.
Vanderhall brings its three-wheeler autos to the UAE
Never heard about Vanderhall? Here’s some easy background info on the business: it’s located in Provo, Utah, and was founded this year 2010 by Steve Hall, whose background was in computer-aided style for gas industry provider Novatek. Hall put in five years prototyping the three-wheeled vehicles he previously visualised, and by 2016, there have been three “autocycles” on offer.
The brand recently launched in the UAE, with the Dubai-based Blanford Capital registering as the neighborhood importer. There’s no dealership up to now, but you can find a pop-up stand in the Dubai International Financial Centre where there’s an automobile on display and product sales staff to field inquiries.
We check the Venice, which costs from Dh155,000 and is backed by a two-year limited warrantee and two-year roadside assistance. Although it appears otherworldly, there are a few mainstream elements to the car, specifically the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine and six-speed automated transmission, both which are sourced from Standard Motors. Peer under the bonnet of a Chevrolet Malibu and you’ll discover the same motor. One good thing about the Vanderhall’s mass-market drivetrain is certainly that parts are readily available, and maintenance is certainly unlikely to be expensive.
Fire it up, though, and the Venice sounds nothing like a Malibu. The uncovered twin side pipes emit a barrage of decibels, and noise levels escalate once you obtain under approach, with a chorus of whooshing and whistling from the turbocharger wastegate. The Venice ekes out 194hp and 275Nm, approximately on a par with the Toyota Camry, however the key to the three-wheeler’s eye-widening acceleration is certainly that it weighs simply 665 kilograms - not even half of the latter.
Unlike the tail-cheerful Morgan Three-Wheeler, which transmits travel to the solitary rear wheel, the Venice is front-wheel-get, and one consequence is that it seems far more steady and planted compared to the barnstorming Brit. There’s also the fact the Vanderhall includes a much beefier steering wheel/tyre combo, with 285mm huge rubber at the trunk, and some 225mm hoops at the front. After an initial feeling-out procedure, it becomes distinct the Venice serves up no nasty surprises - you never feel as though it’ll spit you off the street or fall over (like the Reliant Regal in Mr Bean skits), that was my initial concern.
Get comfortable found in it and the Venice is excellent fun. You can fling it through corners, secure in the knowledge finished . will just stay and rocket away the other side. That said, the thin-rimmed wooden steering wheel is slippery, particularly if your palms get sweaty, so you have to grip it with an increase of pressure than best. The brake pedal has delightful weighting and progression, and the Venice pulls up direct even under major braking. All this really helps to build self-confidence in the automobile, so one’s original circumspection commences to evaporate.
Of course, get out in to the cut-and-thrust of Sheikh Zayed Road and you again get started to feel just a little vulnerable, as your eyeline is level with the wheel arches of the hulking SUVs looming all around. There’s little in the form of occupant protection and you sit incredibly uncovered, with the sidesill hardly waist-large once you’re in the driver’s seat; you can reach down and feel the tarmac. An added thing to keep in mind is that various other motorists might not see you in their mirrors as the very best of the Vanderhall can be hardly a metre high.
The Venice has slightly flimsy construction and minimal passive safety, as well as your eardrums are assaulted by engine/road/wind noise as well as your head gets buffeted by the wind. However, its natural fun component and eyeball-smacking looks happen to be adequate compensation. If the circumstances are right (I analyzed it on a sublime 24°C moment), it’s pure exhilaration.