7 Most Under-Powered Vehicles
In 2013, Jalopnik‘s Raphael Orlove asked readers to submit candidates for a list of 10 of the world’s most underpowered cars. Six years later, automakers are producing cars with better weight-to-power numbers—at least in the U.S., where drivers expect them to have a fair amount of power. These days, an underpowered car is harder to find in the States.
Take, for example, the Ford EcoSport. It weighs a hefty 3,020 pounds but makes only 123 hp, meaning that 1 hp pushes 24.55 pounds. Compare this to the Ford Mustang GT which weighs 3,520 pounds and makes 460 hp. For the Mustang, 1 hp moves an incredible 7.65 pounds.
While the EcoSport has somewhat low engine power for its weight, carmakers and drivers in places outside of North America might think it was more than adequately powered. In other parts of the world, expectations seem to be different. Because gas is expensive in Europe, the need for fuel-efficient vehicles can override the need for speed. In densely populated areas as you’d find in India or China, a fast car is almost useless in crowded streets. An underpowered car is often cheaper to manufacture and to buy.
The seven cars on this list come from a variety of countries. Some of the vehicles are small with even tinier engines. Others are cumbersome and heavy but have puny engines. Either way, they are notable for their surprising lack of power.
Mitsubishi Mirage G4
The only car on the list that is available for purchase in the U.S., the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 weighs 2,106 pounds and makes 78 hp, which means that 1 hp is moving 27.71 pounds. This five-seater Mitsubishi sedan, while woefully underpowered, does redeem itself in fuel efficiency, getting 35 MPG City and 42 MPG Highway.
It’s cheap, too, with a starting price of under $15,000. But cheap isn’t always good, particularly where the Mitsubishi’s lack of power is concerned.
Lada 4X4 Urban
The Lada is manufactured by the Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, whose parent company is Renault. The Lada 4X4 Urban, also known as the Niva Urban, is an off-road vehicle marketed to urban drivers, hence the name.
This proto-crossover seems rugged enough, the military, police, and ambulance companies in Russia and Europe all have used it. It’s hard to imagine this 83 hp zooming to the battlefront or to an emergency, though, because it weighs 2,833 pounds, giving it 1 hp to move 34.13 pounds.
The Honda N-Box microvan is a 133.1-inch-long Kei car from Japan. Kei cars or keijidosha are the smallest cars on the road in Japan and the government’s limit on its power must be less than 63 hp. The N-Box weighs 1,962 pounds and makes 58 hp, so 1 hp moves 34.83 pounds.
The second-generation microvan is only 66 pounds lighter than the first, so it’s still grossly underpowered. But Honda must be doing something right because the N-Box is a bestseller in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Renault Twizy Urban 80
It’s pint-sized, it’s electric, and it’s a Twizy. The European Union classifies the two-seater Twizy as a quadricycle, which is a vehicle category for tiny cars with limited power. And the Twizy is limited in power, indeed. Weighing 992 pounds and making 17 hp, the lagging power of the Renault microcar results in 1 hp pushing 54.23 pounds.
Fun to drive and cute in a clown-car kind of way? Of course. Able to move out of the way of larger vehicles in a hurry? Probably not.
BJEV EC180 EV
The EV market in China is booming, with approximately 500 automakers registering to produce EVs there. The EC180’s producer, BAIC, is a Chinese state-owned car manufacturer that has collaborated with Jeep, Benz, and Hyundai.
Even though it measures only slightly over 144 inches long, the EC180’s has low engine power. It weighs a hefty 2,392 pounds that are pushed by just 41 hp, giving it a weight-to-power stat of 1 hp to 58.34 pounds.
Mahindra Bolero Camper
Mahindra is an enormous conglomerate based in India that manufactures tractors, lawnmowers…and vehicles. Mahindra vehicles, like its tractors, are sturdy. But as is the case with the double-cab Bolero Camper pickup, these vehicles are grossly underpowered. This truck weighs 3,802 pounds and makes 63 hp, pushing 1 hp to 60.35 pounds.
Just for fun, compare the Bolero Camper’s weight-to-power with the 2020 Pininfarina Battista. The supercar is targeted to weigh in at 4,500 pounds and to make 1,874 hp, which means only 2.40 pounds are moved by 1 hp. This comparison is relevant is because Mahindra acquired Pininfarina in 2015, and it makes for an almost absurd contrast.
Aixam City GTO
The French two-seater microcar, the Aixam City GTO, measures slightly over 110 inches and weighs 937 pounds. Its 2-cylinder in-line engine makes only 8 hp. The Aixam is among the world’s most underpowered cars with 1 hp pushing 117.13 pounds. Like the Twizy, the Axiam is a quadricycle.
Although its manufacturer, Aixam-Mega, proudly touts its cars as “no-license” vehicles, riding a bike might afford more power and it doesn’t require a license, either.