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How much? £800,000
On sale in the UK: Never
Engine: Electric motor with six Seabob lithium-ion batteries
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive (on land); two bow jets and two propellers (under water)
Performance: 5.1sec 0-50mph, 75mph (on land); 1.8mph (under water), 0g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 920kg/aluminium and glassfibre
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 5 out of 55

Readers' rating

Rated 3.5 out of 53.5

Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

04 June 2009 15:00

Click here to watch Rinspeed Squba video

Forget crossovers – the Rinspeed Squba redefines the definition of a multi-purpose vehicle. While other manufacturers bang on about the versatility of their cars, talking up the dual on- and off-road ability, or conversing at length about the carrying capacity for driver-focused vehicles, nothing is quite as flexible as the Squba – you can drive it on the road, on water and underwater.

It’s built by Rinspeed, the Swiss concept car maker that always turns up to the Geneva motor show with something a bit wacky. In 2008 it was the Squba that was on display, with company chief Frank Rinderknecht grinning proudly as journalists gawped at his real-life recreation of James Bond’s The Spy Who Loved Me Lotus.

How do you turn a Lotus Elise into a sea-worthy Rinspeed Squba?    

With the help of one millions Euros. Rinspeed started with a Lotus Elise as a donor car, which they had to buy from their local Lotus dealer because Hethel wanted no official part in the project. And once the lithe Elise had been stripped down, Rinspeed sold the spare parts – including the Toyota engine – back to the same Lotus dealer.

Once the Elise had been pared back to its bare aluminium shell, six (pre-waterproofed) lithium-ion Seabob sea scooter batteries and an electric motor were slotted into the engine bay, so the Squba would run as a zero emissions car. On the road the batteries run in series to provide the highest voltage (equivalent to 72bhp and 118lb ft), and in the water they switch to a parallel set-up to power the two propellers, two water jets and the pump that drains the Squba’s cabin. All the electric bits and pieces were then sealed in a watertight box, every nook and cranny sprayed with foam to keep the Squba afloat, and then one very foolish journalist was invited to drive it.  

Let’s start with the stuff that’s safe for you – does the Squba still handle like a Lotus Elise on the road?

Not quite. A regular Elise weighs just 860kg, but the extra heft of the electric gear and means the Squba tips the scales at 920kg. The torque does a good job of hefting the Squba off the line, and Rinspeed claims a 7.1 second sprint to 50mph, plus a top speed of 75mph. It could have been faster, but that would require more (heavier) batteries – as it is, the Squba is still quick enough to keep up with most traffic.

The new coilover KW suspension does a good job of dealing with the extra weight, and the steering fluidity will still teach every mainstream manufacturer a thing or two a feel from the wheel. Ultimately it’s a few steps behind the Elise, but for a one-off concept car it’s pretty amazing.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Rinspeed Squba first drive  

Rinspeed iChange concept car; Lotus London Motor Show video; british international motor show; london motor show; lotus; Lotus Elise; Lotus Evora; Lotus Evora London Motor Show video; autos; british international motor show; cars; london motor show; lotus; Lotus Evora; Rinspeed sQuba video; car; CAR Magazine; cars; rinspeed; sQuba; Underwater; Lotus Eagle spy video; Lotus Player

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Average rating: Rated 3.5 out of 53.5 (11 votes)

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Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review


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gertrudeCharlton says

RE: Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

Checkout the website

10 June 2009 07:11



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trocadero says

RE: Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

Should a toy submarine should be yellow not silver?

07 June 2009 16:09



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Georgebenedek says

RE: Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

A lot of people laughed at the Amphicar when it was released in the 1960's, but have you seen how much they go for at auctions today? It's the people that bought them way back then that are laughing now.

Personally, I think this Squba is a waste of  time and money.

They would have been better just to make an amphibious car rather than a submarine.

05 June 2009 07:22



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JohnnyBimmer says

RE: Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

I've always wanted a Lotus Elise that also goes 3mph in water. What a remarkably 'briliant' idea to a question I didn't even manage to think about spaced out on LSD. My compliments to Rinspeed, they're definately onto (on) something!! 

04 June 2009 16:58



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TimPollard says

RE: Rinspeed Squba (2009) CAR review

 Hi Lokinen -


We mention on page 3 that this story originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of CAR Magazine. Funnily enough, we never got round to doing a web drive/dive on it. So here we are. Enjoy!

04 June 2009 16:50

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