London Taxi TX4
The TX4 is the latest generation of taxicab produced by the London Taxi Company, and the newest models on the market are the TX4 Elegance and the TX4 Style.
The TX4 Style is described as entry-level while the Elegance is higher range. Both can have either manual or automatic transmission.
The seats are cloth and they have carpeted floors which is lovely for passengers, but not so good for the driver who has the job to keep them clean.
Cloth seats are not waterproof and so spillages can put the driver off the road with the resultant loss of earnings.
In fact, this has been a major drawback for taxi drivers for a few years now. The older style London taxis had plastic coated seats which were robust and comfortable and easy to clean, and a rubber floor mat which could be easily hosed out at the end of a shift to get rid of the accumulated rubbish that people step on in the streets and then bring into the cab on their shoes.
This is quite apart from those people who litter a taxi anyway with food wrappings or bits of paper from their pockets.
Now with carpets, the driver has to manually brush out the rubbish and the mud and whatever else is there.
From FX4 to TX1
Sometimes the designers forget that taxicabs are not luxury cars. They are there to transport people from A to B in the shortest possible time. If time was not a factor they would take a bus.
The old Austin FX4 was in production from 1958 through to 1997 when it was replaced by the TX1. During that time it underwent several modernizations and changes, including names, but it was still an FX4.
The TX1 was the first generation of a new sleeker design of taxi cab to be developed, and received the seal of approval from taxi drivers because it still sufficiently looked like the traditional model to be reassuring to those who don’t like change.
Inside the TX4 taxi
The TX4 has a 2.5 turbo-diesel engine that was designed by a company part-owned by DaimlerChrysler and matches the new lower emission standard demanded by the EC.
It is much quieter than its predecessors, and has a smooth comfortable ride. Its engine is much more responsive than earlier models, and many drivers have reported that the TX4 has noticeably better acceleration and suspension.
From the TX1 onwards an induction loop has been installed in the passenger area for easier communication between driver and passengers, along with integral wheelchair ramps and brightly colored grab rails, and the TX4 retains all those wonderful features.
To comply with EC regulations, the first TX4s had headrests installed above the bucket seats (the name for the tip-up seats behind the driver) but those have been removed on the latest versions because they were interfering with the driver’s visibility.
Sometimes safety is more important than comfort.
The new TX4s are more economical on fuel, and there are prototypes being developed that run on hydrogen or are electric. It is hoped those new versions will be in operation in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
London Taxis driven by private people
London taxis are commonplace in not only London but all of Britain’s cities, and many famous people choose to buy their own so that they can drive about in style with relative invisibility.
Among those are HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Phillip) and comedian Stephen Fry. LTI have admitted that their luxury models are deeply carpeted with inbuilt televisions and drinks cabinets and cost about £60,000.