Sorry, we mean the newest Sunday "auto cycle."
The first thing I noticed about the Vanderhall Laguna was how many people noticed it. The three-wheeled roadster was parked at San Francisco's ultra-touristy Pier 43, which undoubtedly helped it draw a crowd. Tourist trap or not, the Laguna is going to attract attention wherever it goes. I learned this firsthand from the short time I spent with the three-wheeler and Vanderhall's director of sales and marketing, Daniel Boyer. First things first, know that the official term for the Laguna is "auto cycle."
This was drilled into me by Daniel each time I referred to the Laguna as a car, motorcycle or tricycle. Although it's officially referred to as an auto cycle the Laguna is licensed as a motorcycle but you don't need a motorcycle license to drive it. That's because it has a windshield, seat belts and a roll bar. Now the version I saw in San Francisco was a prototype, not the company's finished product. So what's going to change five months from now when Vanderhall launches the Laguna? The most noticeable thing will be the leather interior. There are also plans to use Billet bellhousing mounts and to put the air intake inside a carbon fiber housing. Other than that, the Laguna is basically ready to roll.
As you'd guess, the Laguna is incredibly lightweight, with a curb weight of just 1,675 pounds. That makes its 1.4-liter turbo-four (courtesy of Opel) feel much, much more powerful than the 200 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque it's rated at. The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 140 mph. Unfortunately I didn't get to see if those figures were legit as Daniel and I were stuck driving down San Francisco's crowded Embarcadero. Although it may look small from the outside the Laguna is surprisingly roomy. By that I mean a person over six feet won't feel cramped.
Despite the chilly weather we had the top down and that's where the heated seats came in handy. I was riding shotgun so I can't say how the Laguna felt from a driver's point of view, but as a passenger I couldn't contain my giddiness. Part of that was due to the reactions Daniel and I got from random people on the street. Street-side reviews ranged from "awesome car" to "that thing is so ugly." I'd never been in a car, er, auto cycle, that demanded so much attention simply due to its existence. Having people yell at you at red lights is nice and all, but what made the experience awesome is the fact that riding in the Laguna is a lot of fun. It's able to effortlessly get up and go when you hit the gas and its unique design makes it infinitely maneuverable.
Traffic is always awful but bobbing and weaving through lanes makes it tolerable. Whether on the highway or surface streets the Laguna dominated. The ride was a bit bumpy but that's to be expected. Vanderhall has been working to launch a unique three-wheeler for a few years now and we're happy the company is close to having a finished product on its hands. We'll have a complete review sometime in the next few months, so stay tuned for that. Hopefully by that time auto cycle won't be such a foreign phrase to me. Photos courtesy of Ted7.