Q Branch Would Approve: The Rinspeed sQuba

Rinspeed sQubaA cursory glance of the latest Fords, Chevys, Toyotas and cars available from any of the other big automakers in any given year reveals little in the way of truly new or revolutionary features. A redesigned cupholder here, a different color backlight on the instrument panel there, but when you think about it, there is really not a whole lot of difference in the the basic four wheels, four doors, gas-powered car that you can buy today from those our parents, or even our grandparents drove.

So I am hoping the Big Three pay attention to this little number coming out soon from RinSpeed–the sQuba. If an electric two-seater that can drive right into the water and dive to a depth of 10 meters sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, it should. Rinspeed boss and designer Frank M. Rinderknecht is a Bond fan, and was inspired 3 decades ago by the submersible Lotus Esprit designed by Q branch in The Spy Who Loved Me, and the sQuba is the result. The primary difference, of course, is that Bond’s Lotus was just movie SFX, but the sQuba actually works.

That said, there are a couple differences–dare I say compromises–that had to be made to bring the submersible car off the big screen and onto the road and/or water. Unlike Bond’s Lotus, the sQuba dives underwater with the top down, meaning you get wet. Bring your own dive mask, but the sQuba does include integrated air tanks and regulators behind the headrest. Also, you better not be in too much of a hurry to get anywhere underwater, as your top speed is about 3 km/hour. That also rules out diving anywhere you might have to deal with even the slightest current. On the surface, you can manage 6 km/hr.

So, if you’re the kind of person who happens to drive by large bodies of water that are clear enough to enjoy the underwater view, don’t have any appreciable current, and you often feel like impressing the attractive Soviet spy in the passenger seat, and you’re both in the habit of wearing wetsuits when you go out for a drive, then this is the car for you.

OK, so I’ll admit, it’s not the most practical ride in the world. But what can I look forward to in my next new car from Detroit? A sunroof with an integrated cupholder? Downloadable customized “your door is ajar” messages for 99 cents each? Please, people–it IS the future. At least Rinspeed is trying.