► Travel in luxury without anybody knowing
► Based on the LEVC TX London taxi
► You might never want to take an Uber again
For getting around the capital, nothing’s quite like one of London’s iconic black cabs, but with an interior built to handle the vomit of a thousand late-night revellers travelling in one is hardly a luxurious experience.
Enter Sutton Bespoke, the tuning arm of luxury car dealer Clive Sutton, which has taken the basic taxi form and converted it into an ultra-swanky urban runabout.
LEVC TX review - London taxi driven
Still looks like a taxi to me
That’s the intention – this isn’t a vehicle to show off in, rather to slide under the radar. The VIP Class taxi is based on the same humble underpinnings as all new London black cabs – namely, the LEVC TX. This SUV-sized black cab has been plying the streets of London and other cities since 2017, and replaced the old TX4 cab’s Neolithic-era diesel engine with a bang up-to-date plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Sharing tech with Volvo (the two companies are both owned by Geely) means the LEVC TX is a world away from previous taxis in terms of comfort and refinement, but retains the upright and classic style that’s made the black cab such a discreet icon.
To that end, very little has been done to the exterior, which keeps its classic chrome trim and hubcaps along with its upright grille.
With that being said, it’s not entirely devoid of attention-grabbing features – Sutton Bespoke has given it a two-tone paint finish, retaining the black finish on the bottom but with a silver paint up top.
The taxi sign has also been replaced by one that says ‘VIP’. Oh dear.
So what has changed?
The biggest alterations are to be found inside, where Sutton Bespoke has skinned quite a few cows in order to trim all eight seats in Sandalwood leather and Alcantara. The hardwearing rubber floors are gone, replaced with deep-pile carpet, and the rear seat has been re-angled to a more relaxed position for longer drives.
Rear passengers are now treated to an armrest and ambient lighting, plus hand-crafted wood veneers on the doors.
The driver’s compartment now has a second seat to replace the luggage shelf found in the standard cab (quite where the Louis Vuitton suitcases will go is a mystery – the LEVC TX has a lousy boot) and there’s a retractable screen between the front and rear of the vehicle in case you’d prefer your driver not to eavesdrop.
To keep passengers entertained on long trips, there’s also a refrigerator, a TV Tuner with Apple TV, and a PS4.
I’m sold. When’s my local cabbie getting one?
Probably not for a long time. The standard LEVC TX already starts on the wrong side of £55,000, but Sutton Bespoke’s alterations push that up to more than £120,000 including VAT.
However, the next time you see a taxi on the roads, double check that the sign doesn’t say ‘VIP’ rather than ‘TAXI’ – it might just be your lucky day.