It’s not too often that I completely condemn something I feature. This time that is the case, as I openly loathe these things. The plastic box you see is a French-built Microcar MC2, a four-wheeled penalty box in other words. These trinkets populate the roads here, driven by youth too young to drive an actual car (the licence age here is 18). Synonymous with blocking the highways and causing energy drink fueled mayhem in town centres, these only do 45 km/h or so with the pedal to the carpet, make a terrible racket and aren’t particularly safe. Still, they’re sure to be seen in every town.
Since my annoyance is so obvious, the commentary here will be very biased. Try to bear with me.
The engine in these is a four-stroke, 500cc Lombardini FOX diesel engine that produces all of 4kW, and is coupled to a variator.
The power output of every microcar or moped car is throttled to 4kW, so they’re hideously slow and mostly only produce clatter and vibrations. Some of them have been fitted with outrageous sound systems so they also boom and thud.
The Microcar manufacturer is owned by Ligier, the once-famous French motorsport brand. Ligier also manufactures microcars under its own name, but the line-ups are separate.
I’m seeing a certain amount of Fiat and Ford design languages in this thing. Underneath the plastic body panels is a tubular chassis, which is seen to somewhat bend when colliding with a proper car that weighs over 1000kg. These weigh 350kg, and tip over quite easily. They all also wear a fluorescent orange triangle, so that every approaching driver realizes that they only travel at a speed roughly half of anyone else’s.
The Microcar MC2 is the long-wheelbase version of the shorter MC1, which uses the same doors. You can easily make that out from the door shape.
How much do these cost, then? New, some 12-15 000 euros. I’m not kidding. Used they go for 4-5k, which is still the kind of money one pays for a real car or two. These, then, are the car substitute for teens, often bought by parents. I’d still hold on for the precious couple years, save up money by biking instead and buy something made out of metal when the time comes. You can buy a hell of an E36 for the price of one of these.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]