Electric cars are hailed as the future. Not only do they soothe the planet with zero tailpipe emissions, their powerful motors can embarrass the kind of exotic performance cars sold with a special red key for track use, and they look set to dominate Nurburgring lap records from here on in. And then there’s the G-Wiz, an electric car which was only one of those things. You can guess which.
So why did we buy one? It’s also the cheapest electric car, of course! In fact, ‘car’ might be stretching it, as the G-Wiz is technically a ‘heavy quadricycle’. Costing just £400 from friend of the channel John, it’s Car Throttle’s new budget car. There was just one snag - it didn’t come with batteries included, and for an electric car that’s a big miss.
But just bask in its glory. Sure, the bodywork is scraped and mis-matching, but there’s even a frunk under the bonnet, just like a Tesla Model S Plaid. It also has eco-features like sliding front windows that only require human energy to operate.
Plan of action? Get Alex (@autoalex) to fit a whole load of Yuasa ‘deep cycle’ batteries under the seats. What could possibly go wrong?
Reva G-Wiz: A Terribly Short History
The G-Wiz was built at Reva’s factory in Bangalore, India from 2001 until 2012, and 4600 were sold in no less than 24 countries. That paints a rosy picture, but it’s worth noting half of all cars were sold in India, and 40% of those never left Bangalore where Mahindra Reva is based. How fitting for a car that incites such terrible range anxiety.
With a top speed of 50mph, the G-Wiz thankfully wasn’t allowed to hit the motorway, where it would have proved a danger to all in its proximity. Considering it has an optimistic range of 50 miles from new, getting on a road with exits few and far between is also precisely the last thing you’d want to do.
Its heavy quadricycle billing meant it could be driven in the UK with just a CBT motorcycle test under your belt, from the age of 16 - a year before your classmates hit the road. Its 13kW motor (about 17bhp if you’re counting) has roughly the same power as the starter motor fitted in a mild-hybrid Audi. Luckily the G-Wiz only had around 600kg to haul around. Add passengers at your peril.
Just about the only redeeming feature of the G-Wiz was its price, although even £9995 (around £17,500 adjusted for inflation) in the UK seems like a poor investment. The adorable Citroen Ami is only expected to cost £6000 when it arrives this year.
Later models gained an AC electric motor and improved batteries, along with disc brakes that were far more assuring than the old drums. But the G-Wiz still had a dark side - it was almost completely devoid of crash safety. Even after the intervention of Lotus from 2008 to improve matters, you’d be lucky to crash a G-Wiz at 30mph or more and live to tell the tale, as this horrifying video of a G-Wiz crash test shows all to clearly:
The Electric Underdog
But we Brits famously love an underdog, and some kind souls have taken the G-Wiz under their collective wing. With a lithium-ion battery conversion, it’s possible to double, or even triple the range to 100 miles and beyond. Take that Renault Zoe owners’ with your zero-star Euro NCAP electric car!
There’s a 474-strong Facebook group - the Reva GWiz Car Club - dedicated to keeping their cars on the road, advice, user manuals and general G-Wiz gassing. One brave Reva pilot has even modified a G-Wiz to be capable of the 70mph motorway speed limit - barely believable considering our Alex found hitting 30mph on a public road “petrifying”.
But, we like to stick up for our own, and Alex told us: “Despite what people say, everyone who’s driven ours has loved it and has genuinely considered getting one for small commutes”. The bravery of the British public really does know no bounds.