The fact that Isetta’s design did not survive beyond the 60s goes to show that the front hinged door is not practical. No automaker made a front-access car since after the Isetta. Well, that’s not until 2022 when Swiss mobility company Micro Mobility Systems AG debuted the Microlino.
Like some models of the iconic bubble car from the 50s/60s, the Microlino rolls on four wheels, seats two, and has only one access and that is the front-hinged door. However, it is not an automobile like the four-wheel Isetta or the BMW 600. It is classified as an L7e category in Europe, which is a heavy quadricycle.
So, no, it is not a full-fledged car. While so, it does have an automotive unibody structure, rocks a lightweight aluminum body with a reinforced steel door, and has independent suspension on all four wheels. This is definitely NOT the case of “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
Microlino is an intermediary between cars and motorcycles. Since it is not a car, it does not need to adhere to the regulations regarding safety and manufacturing while still offering key benefits of a motor vehicle such as the stability of a 4-wheel vehicle and protection against the elements.
A standard Microlino is offered in four trims, namely Urban, Dolce, Competizione, and Pioneer Series. All trims share the same 12.5 kW (17 horses) electric drive that offers 89 Nm (66 lb-ft) of torque and a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph).
Clearly, it is not going to make any land speed record but 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 5 seconds is pretty brisk for a tiny urban transport.
It has a choice lithium-ion battery capacity, namely, 6, 10.5, and 14 kWh, that offers anything from 96 to 230 km (60-143 miles) range. Charging power type is dependent on the battery capacity and can take as little as 3 hours to fully charge on a household plug.
As an L7e, it weighs as little as 496 kilograms/1,093 lbs (for the 6 kWh battery version). The lightweight is also partly because there are no bells and whistles. It seats 2, as mentioned above. It has 230 liters (61 gallons) of trunk volume, and it does include rear window heating.
The vehicle is super tiny. It is 2,519 mm long, 1,473 wide, and 1,501 mm tall (8.26 x 4.83 x 4.92 feet). Given its length, you could actually cross-park it into a parallel lot and exit out directly onto the sidewalk. This also means up to 3 Microlino can fit a typical lot. Now, that IS tiny.
The Microlino is available to order now with a starting price of 14,990 CHF (about €15,164 or US$16,150).
Note: The images that appeared in this article are the Pioneer Series.
All images courtesy of Micro Mobility Systems AG.