The London black cab is one of the most iconic, instantly-recognizable vehicles in all the motoring world. With a look that’s inspired by the original 1958 Austin FX4, the modern London cab is a thoroughly modern vehicle purpose-built to be extra roomy on the inside without being extra roomy on the outside — and that brilliant packaging is made possible, in part, by the fact that today’s London Cab is fully electrically-driven (even if a 3-cylinder Volvo range-extender does kick in now and then). They’re neat cars, but the one you see is extra neat to the tune of about $155,000.
Built by British custom car specialist Clive Sutton, this ultra-luxe cab starts life as a standard product of the London EV Company (LEVC), complete with a 33-kilowatt-hour battery pack and 147 HP Siemens electric motor that’s backed up by the same 1.5-liter, 81 HP 3-cylinder from the Volvo XC40 T3. Sutton leaves that durable and dependable drivetrain alone — but that’s about all he leaves alone!
Outside, the traditional “black cab” paint is replaced with several coats of metallic candy paints in a subtle, dignified two-tone scheme. That may not sound like a huge change, but trust me: the quality of paint — especially on the darker side of the color spectrum — makes a huge difference in the visual impact of a vehicle. This one gets Ferrari’s Grigio Silverstone gray up top, and even the heavy-duty steel wheels get a similar visual upgrade, while the taxi sign’s lettering is replaced with “VIP.” Subtle stuff, but effective enough to set the cab apart to the trained eye.
You won’t need a trained eye to spot the upgrades inside Sutton’s VIP cab. Starting from the bottom, the plush, sound insulating, thick-pile carpet replaces the utilitarian rubber floor. The seating is more insulated from the chassis, and the heavy-duty marine-grade vinyl is replaced with a soft Sandalwood leather and Alcantara trim — which is seemingly everywhere in the cabin, from the dash to the pillars to the headliner. Or, at least, what little headliner there is, because nearly the entire roof is an single, crystal-clear glass panel. Whatever part of the interior that isn’t bathed in natural light is illuminated by a full rainbow of cleverly arranged LED lighting just everywhere.
It’s nice, in other words, but Sutton’s LEVC VIP is also up-to-the-minute in terms of technology, as well. The Sutton’s back-seat passengers occupants have access to haptic climate controls, along with an upgraded audio system offering Bluetooth connectivity to an Apple TV, a 5G router for wifi connectivity, and a small refrigerator. After all, you can’t have your champagne get warm when you’re tooling around central London can you? I mean, what would the Queen think!?
You can check out Clive Sutton’s “official” promo video below. Once you do, head down to the comments section and tell us what you think of this upscale electric taxi — do you see it as a less pretentious alternative to a V12 Rolls-Royce, or just a weird way to launder money through a taxi service? Let us know!