If you wish to travel in the lap of luxury but don’t fancy driving, the chauffeur-driven limousine is the usual choice of the rich living in or visiting London. But there is a quicker – yet equally sumptuous – way to get to the airport and that’s by taxi, using bus lanes. In a quirk of the city's driving regulations, London's iconic black cabs are allowed to travel in bus lanes - potentially saving hours stuck in traffic.
Mind you, this isn't any old taxi. This conversion from the bespoke coachbuilding division of premium car specialist Clive Sutton is altogether different. Clive Sutton, CEO of the eponymous brand, says: “While many of our clients seek power, performance and stand-out style, another portion prefer discreet, unique, customisable luxury. Our VIP LEVC Taxi enables the most comfortable, spacious and private journey through the city with extravagant features usually reserved for superyachts and private jets.”
To cater for such titans of originality and discretion, customers for these plug-in hybrid runarounds can opt for a plethora of luxury fittings from leather-clad, electronically-reclining heated rear seats with footrests, to a fibre-optic roof mimicking the night sky, or electronic self-closing door fittings from a Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Customers can choose from a four-, three- or an ultra-spacious two-seat set-up with a drinks fridge, on-board WiFi and Bluetooth as standard. Thick-pile carpet, an ambient lighting system and hand-crafted wood veneers further lift this taxi above the realms of the prosaic, as does a 20-inch screen within the leather-clad divider between the front and rear compartments. As you might expect, the driver's compartment isn't nearly as opulant as the passenger side.
Then there's the price. The standard model costs £105,000 ($140,000). Sutton’s show car weighs in at £121,500 ($162,000) thanks to the addition of two-tone paintwork, built-in umbrella holders and a high-end audio system.
The catch to all this is that it's highly unlikely that any of Sutton's options would actually be acquired by a taxi driver, so you're almost certainly never going to flag one down by luck or design. So, customers for these exotic vehicles will need to make sure that their chauffeur holds the requisite license (known locally as 'the knowledge') if they wish to avail themselves of the advantage of travelling along bus lanes. Cor blimey, Guv’nor!