Recently I mentioned the VW Jetta taxis they’ve got running around here. These green-and-yellow cars look so 1991!
To be fair though, that’s because they’re really from 1991. Where in Europe the Jetta Mk-2 was taken into production in 1984 and out of production again in 1992, the Chinese only started producing it in 1991. And it is still built today, by the factories of the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture in Chengdu and Changchun. They’ve done a couple of facelifts to it, which to be honest, have been hardly more than shifting a few lines around.
I hadn’t had the pleasure of riding one when I wrote about them earlier, but in the meantime I’ve been a passenger in a couple of them. Though they all look alike on the outside, their interiors are of a wide variety of trims. Not factory trims, mind you, but personalised to the drivers’ tastes. As a result, based on my study of Chinese taxis with about N=5, I can conclude that Chinese taxi drivers have very poor taste!
Some taxis have metal bars between the driver’s compartment and the back seat. With a Jugendstil-like styling to them they give you the impression of being in some kind of steampunk prison. Other taxi have the 1980’s bead seats and yet others have plasticised the whole interior, which is, I’m assuming, to make them puke-proof.
The interior might not always be the most tasteful, some drivers tend to be very concerned about your wellbeing as a passenger. Well, sort of. Though one of them did tell me, when I was sitting in the front, to fasten my seatbelt – which I hadn’t done out of considerance with my friends in the back, who didn’t have seatbelts in the first place – he also rounded corners at speeds that would make Sebastian Vettel jealous. But here’s the best part: the ten minute taxi run only cost the equivalent of £1.50. Yes, that’s one pound fifty!
I don’t care where I’m going and how close it is anymore, for prices like that I’ll never walk again!