The Mini EV Gameboy Now Has 50% More Power and 100% More Range
Issuing time:2022-06-24 12:44
What is it?
This is the latest version of the Wuling Mini EV, and has more power, more range, and, at a little over 10,000 USD, nearly double the asking price of the original that we drove nearly two years ago. The question is, does the value proposition of a car this small stand up to more than doubling the price?
Still Funky, but More Modern
The overall shape of the Mini EV the hasn't really changed since we first drove it, but the details definitely have. This latest version has a much more sleek, modern-looking design, particularly the upgraded front and rear lighting. The Gameboy version also has additional visual flair thanks to the chrome accents and added bodywork, accentuated by our test car’s lovely green paint job. One good piece of news is that the Gameboy edition still rides on the 12-inch wheels of the original, which helps to preserve the very funky, Kei car-esque proportions.
The name Gameboy is likely to illicit strong feelings of nostalgia among certain demographics, but we should point out that this mini electric has nothing to do with that beloved game system or Nintendo Corporation. Eagle-eyed readers will already have noticed the lack of a space between “game” and “boy”, and this is indeed a separate registered trademark that Wuling has made here in China. To the company’s credit, they have cooperated with various game companies and heavily marketed to young gamers in the past, so this concept isn’t coming out of nowhere.
A Little More Space and Tech
After open the surprisingly large doors, one is greeted with a raft of improvements on the interior of the Gameboy. We described the interior material quality of the original Mini EV as being somewhere between a compact car and a public toilet, and there have been some improvements made in that respect. For example, the white, ceramic-looking plastic on the center console and door panels at least has the appearance of being a higher quality material.
The actual feel of it, however, isn’t much better than the original. The same can be said for the seats, whose faux leather surfaces look more welcoming, but retain the seating position and cushioning that left us aching when we drove the original Mini EV. You don't feel so much that you're sitting in the car, as you're sitting on top of it.
Tech remains mostly the same, with a small screen for your instrument cluster and an even smaller one for the radio display. That radio unit does now allow for Bluetooth connectivity, which is a major upgrade to this car’s daily useability.Space has never been the Mini EV’s forte, but Wuling has seen fit to add an additional 70mm of wheelbase to the Gameboy (1940mm vs 2010mm, our video review erroneously stated that the Gameboy version was the same size as the original). That’s a not insignificant increase on a car this small, and does make for an ever-so-slightly more capacious rear seat.
Still Rides Like an Ox Cart
The improvements to this latest Mini EV are more than skin deep. It also has 50% more power than the original, for a total of 30 kW and 110 Nm of torque (40 hp and 81 pound-feet). That power increase is immediately noticeable when behind the wheel. Range is also up nearly 100%, with the now 26 kWh battery delivering a claimed NEDC range of 300 km. All this means that the Wuling Mini EV is now even better at all the things that it was good at to begin with, i.e., finding the tiniest gaps in traffic and squirting through.
This increase in power and range makes the Mini EV far more useable as a daily commuter. Even more importantly, it now has a driver's airbag. There are still no airbag for passengers, or really any other safety features. The air conditioning on our test car even went so far as to actually cool the interior of the car, something that couldn’t be said for the original.
Unfortunately, the platform and suspension haven’t gone through any real changes, so the ride and handling are still quite awful. Going over any bumps results in a great deal of bouncing and head nodding. It’s truly uncomfortable, and only aggravated by the strange seating position mentioned above. The foot box on a Mini EV also has a serious offset to the right due to the intrusion of the wheel well into the cabin, forcing you to shift your legs and further compromising driver comfort.
Despite the raft of improvements that have been made to the Mini EV, these compromises seem unacceptable on a car at this price point. You might be thinking, “But $10,000 for a car with this range and these features and this power actually seems like a steal! Where I live, I can't get anything for $10,000!”
Well, guess what? This review isn’t taking place where you live, it’s taking place in China, and $10,000 will get you a lot of different options in this market. When this car debuted some time ago, it was a segment of one. But now it's in an increasingly crowded segment that includes cars like the QQ Ice Cream, Lumin Corn and others.
The Mini can still compete with those smaller vehicles, but $10,000 will also get you into cars that are much more practical, like the Lettin Mengo Pro. If you stretch a bit, you can even buy a Leap T03, which is only $500-750 more, but it has nearly twice the power, the same range, more space, and frankly, a more premium interior. The fact of the matter is that Wuling has priced this car into a different segment.
What those other cars don't have, however, is the funky style of the Mini EV, and frankly, if you love the way it looks, there really is no substitute.
Article classification: Electric Vehicles