And it gets 51 miles per gallon.
Among the brands operated by General Motors, most of our readers will be familiar with Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, plus a few defunct ones like Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Saturn. They are probably less familiar with SAIC-GM-Wuling (also abbreviated as SGMW). The joint-venture company between SAIC Motor, GM, and Liuzhou Wuling Motors currently builds China's cheapest electric vehicle, the Mini EV, which sells for only $4,500.
The automaker has just revealed a new addition to its electrified lineup called the Wuling Asta Hybrid. Available starting at only 99,800 yuan (around $14,500), the Asta would easily be the cheapest hybrid if it was sold in the US. That title currently belongs to the Toyota Corolla Hybrid ($23,750) now that the Hyundai Ioniq has been discontinued (it previously sold for $23,600). A more premium Asta Hybrid is also available for 109,800 yuan (around $16,000).
Powering the Asta Hybrid is a 2.0-liter engine paired with an electromagnetic dedicated hybrid transmission (DHT). A high-performance battery and electric motor contribute to the equation for a combined 134 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. These numbers aren't too shabby for less than 15 grand. Wuling oddly only quotes a 0-60 kph (37 mph) time of 3.2 seconds rather than the more traditional 0-100 kph (62 mph). This is likely because the Asta Hybrid is designed with city use in mind, so the time it takes to reach 62 mph is a less important metric. Or perhaps there is no stopwatch on the planet that can last long enough to time the sprint to 62.
Fuel economy is a far more important metric, and the Asta Hybrid manages 4.6 liters per 100 km. Roughly translated into the more Americanized miles per gallon, the tiny hybrid manages approximately 51 mpg (not factoring for differences between the Chinese and US testing cycles). That's relatively close to the Corolla Hybrid's 53-mpg average, though the Toyota makes do with only 121 hp, and it's not a crossover like the Asta. Toyota has not provided output figures for the 2023 Corolla Hybrid, but it may get a power bump with the addition of all-wheel-drive. Thanks to its frugal powertrain, Wuling says the Asta Hybrid can travel 1,100 km (680 miles) on a single tank of gasoline.
It may have bargain basement pricing, but there is nothing barebones about the Asta Hybrid's interior. Amenities include a Ling OS connectivity system housed on a 10.25-inch central touchscreen, a 360-degree HD camera system, Automatic Parking Assist, and an optional panoramic sunroof. There's even some diamond-quilted leather and a glass shifter that looks pretty similar to Volvo's Orrefors crystal unit. We doubt such a vehicle would pass the USA's strict crash standards, but Wuling says two-thirds of the body is made of high-strength steel to improve safety.
Though this is a GM product, there's no chance it will come to the US. That's a shame because a 51-mpg crossover for less than $15,000 sounds like a great option for buyers on a budget.