Totally Unique Riding Comfort – Not a Car, Not a Motorcycle!

Test Drive Pilots

One of our Phase 7 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots was Gareth Edwards who very well knows the differences
between the road environments of Japan and other countries.
Last year, when he just happened to spot an i-ROAD in the Roppongi quarter of Tokyo, it was love at first sight.
Inspired, Gareth Edwards wasted no time in applying to become a Test Drive Pilot.
Throughout the test drive period he has chosen the i-ROAD for all phases of his driving needs – from commuting to work to private use.
This is a reflection of his sheer adoration for the i-ROAD.
For this installment, we talked with Gareth Edwards about his daily lifestyle routine
during the test period, along with his personal thoughts on the i-ROAD.
One of our Phase 7 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots was Gareth Edwards who very well knows the differences between the road environments of Japan and other countries. Last year, when he just happened to spot an i-ROAD in the Roppongi quarter of Tokyo, it was love at first sight. Inspired, Gareth Edwards wasted no time in applying to become a Test Drive Pilot. Throughout the test drive period he has chosen the i-ROAD for all phases of his driving needs – from commuting to work to private use. This is a reflection of his sheer adoration for the i-ROAD. For this installment, we talked with Gareth Edwards about his daily lifestyle routine during the test period, along with his personal thoughts on the i-ROAD.

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We conducted our interview at Mr. Edward’s home, which is located in a quiet residential area of Tokyo. In the parking lot, sitting next to the family car, was a blue i-ROAD. The scene of that unit sandwiched compactly into an open niche in a parking lot is a sight unlikely with a vehicle other than the i-ROAD.

Finding Tokyo difficult to drive around, largely due to a lack of parking spaces

Finding Tokyo difficult to drive around, largely due to a lack of parking spaces

"Ever since my i-ROAD arrived, I’ve used it for all commuting to the office, shopping and other daily driving needs. Just recently, I drove my own car again for the first time in a while. I was surprised at how heavy it felt."
"I first came to Japan on a study program during my college days, and have basically lived here ever since. In the past, I got rid of a car that I owned because the roads in Tokyo were so congested and I could find few places to park. In fact, I decided to give up driving in Japan altogether! As time passed, I once again purchased a car around the time we bought a home. I must say that the road situation is better than it was in the old days, and we find it easier to drive around. With regard to parking, however, I still find things to be considerably inconvenient."
"I first learned of the i-ROAD in the summer of last year, when I saw one of them in the parking lot in the Roppongi Hills complex. The design looked quite bold, along the lines of a supercar, and I noticed the Toyota logo. The innovative presence stuck in my mind, and when I got home I did some research. I learned that Toyota had launched what I found to be a very interesting project. When I read an article about how they were recruiting test drivers for the car, I instinctively pumped my fist in the air with joy. As you can expect, I wasted no time in applying to be part of the project."
"The impact of that first impression was substantial, and when I actually drove the i-ROAD I was even more thrilled. It delivered totally unique riding comfort – not like that of a motorcycle, nor that of a regular car. If forced to describe that experience, I would say that it reminded me of the cockpit of the fighter jet games at video arcades! The way the body leans back and forth out on the road is great fun, and from the first day of the test period I knew I would never want to return my i-ROAD to Toyota!"

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Driving the i-ROAD has led to previously unknown city scenes and encounters

Driving the i-ROAD has led to previously unknown city scenes and encounters

"At the office, I deliberately drive the i-ROAD to get lunch, drop by shopping districts on my way home and this and that. In other words, I’m so passionate about driving it around that I do everything I could to think up excuses and opportunities to take it out for a spin. The i-ROAD handles great on turns and for other maneuvers, making it fun to cruise down narrow side streets that I normally wouldn’t be able to drive. I’ve discovered new stores, seen great cherry trees in bloom and come upon other scenes for the very first time, simply because I was zipping around in my i-ROAD. I’ve been lucky, in that sense, because the test-driving period just happened to overlap with the cherry blossom viewing season this year."
"When going out on longer drives, I take advantage of ‘Small Space Parking.’ With plenty of such spaces available around the places I wanted to go, I’ve been able to arrive and park at those locations without any trouble or stress. Among the extra services offered for the i-ROAD, meanwhile, I find the ‘SOUND-X‘ to be particularly nice. This is the first time I’ve ever experienced driving with the rhythm of road sounds filling the cabin, which I find quite invigorating. One of my personal hobbies involves making music, and piloting the i-ROAD with the SOUND-X on reminds me of the heavy backbeat of hip-hop tunes. If possible, I like to try my own hand at producing some sounds for this service!"
"I feel the i-ROAD would also be a nice fit for the environment in my hometown of London. As London is a city with much rain, I think an i-ROAD car sharing service would catch on and be widely supported by the local residents. For me, though, I can’t imagine sharing the i-ROAD with anyone! I want to own a unit all my own! Perhaps because this car seems to move right in unison with the body of the driver, the more I operate it the more attached I become! For me, the ideal combination would be to have an i-ROAD on hand for short-distance drives around where I live, while keeping a separate car for taking trips and other extended driving. The more I talk about it, the harder it becomes for me to think of having to return my i-ROAD! If they decide to put this car on the market, I certainly hope they call me up before anyone else!"

As he discussed the i-ROAD, Gareth Edwards seemed to grow more and more passionate. Exclaiming how great certain features are, things he’d like to see added and other comments, he is definitely the source of a valuable stream of constructive comments for i-ROAD developers. Cars, by their very definition, should be vehicles that furnish people with fun and excitement. Our interview with Gareth Edwards served to bring home this basic message once again.

TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida

ISSUED : 18 May 2016