FIRST-DRIVE REVIEW: Is the Ice Cream Sundae mini EV a delectable dessert or tedious tidbit?

If you’re over 20 years old, then chances are that you used to see this tiny hatchback called the Chery QQ running around Philippine roads.

These little, brightly colored econoboxes from China came over with seating for four, a barebones interior, an engine that made more exhaust fumes than it did power and a price tag similar to most large displacement motorcycles at the time.

All these years later, most QQs have withered away into the ground, while the ones still around are either an empty shell or broken beyond repair.

And while Chery’s original foray into our market ended pretty poorly, the Chinese brand is doing well for itself nowadays – still, pastel is in and big sport-utility vehicles are so last season.

Good thing that Chery International has a solution.

With those expressive, puppy-like eyes, the Ice Cream Sundae mini EV sure is cute. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

While it may not carry the same look as the original, the new Ice Cream Sundae mini electric vehicle (also known by its full name of Chery QQ Ice Cream Sundae) has made it to our shores with pastel to spare, seating for four and no more, and battery-electric power.

As of press time, it is a gray market import of electric-vehicle (EV) importer SuperCharged Motors, Inc. As such, the Ice Cream Sundae is not officially badged as a Chery and doesn’t come with a warranty.

However, the company is the official importer and distributor of the 21-seater Chery Wanda electric van.

The question remains, however: Is the Ice Cream Sundae the sweet treat we want it to be or a bitter pill we’d hate to swallow?

Cute looks, cute dimensions

The Ice Cream Sundae’s minuscule dimensions make small hatchbacks like the Toyota Wigo look like a van. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

On the face of it, the Ice Cream Sundae definitely appeals to a specific market – the young professional.

Its front fascia almost looks like a puppy that’s trying to look mean, but ends up looking even more adorable.

chery ice cream mini ev
The Ice Cream Sundae’s unique side profile and fantastic pastel colors signify that you don’t need to be big to be stylish. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN 

And with colors like Coconut White, Taro Purple and Lemon Yellow, it makes you feel like you’re standing in a milk tea shop, not picking out a color for your first car.

But that’s part of the car’s charm – it doesn’t take itself seriously, so why should you? Have a bit of fun and go choose a fun color – you’re only young once, right?

Clever cabin

chery ice cream mini ev interior
The Ice Cream Sundae gets an airy, lilac-themed cabin, without the eyesore of a huge infotainment screen. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Inside, the fun continues with quite a comfortable interior.

Funky color schemes and soft, plushy seats make sitting in the Ice Cream Sundae an enjoyable experience. Yes, there is copious use of hard plastic and there’s very little in the way of useable storage space, but in a car this small, it’s expected.

chery ice cream mini ev interior
There is room for four adults in the Ice Cream Sundae. But you’ll need to slide the front seats forward a bit. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

The seats are also just two pieces with an integrated headrest with little adjustment, so finding your ideal driving position will be difficult. Short and tall people should beware.

However, despite its size, all four seats have ample room for both the head and the legs, making it a somewhat viable car for the small family.

Adequate performance

chery ice cream mini ev hood
Nope, that’s not the electric motor. The Ice Cream Sundae is rear-wheel drive. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN.

Under the hood, you’d expect to find a motor of some sort, but as this is a rear-wheel drive EV, the motor sits in the back underneath the trunk.

Powering this evolved Little Tykes car is a 27 PS electric motor, which doesn’t sound like much. But it’s enough to get the Ice Cream Sundae to a claimed top speed of 100 km/h.

The flip side of that, though, is that because it rides on such tiny 12-inch wheels, with tires no wider than a donut spare, it’s really more suited to city streets where you’re virtually limited to 40 to 60 km/h, which is really where it’s most comfortable.

In fact, at around 40 km/h, the Ice Cream Sundae’s 13.9-kWh battery pack is good for up to 170 km of range, which is really all you need in the city.

chery ice cream mini ev charging plug
No expensive fossil fuel required. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Something else to note is the charging time for the Ice Cream Sundae, which can take eight hours to go from empty to fully charged. Make sure to keep that in mind when deciding where and for how long you need to charge.

SuperCharged Motors told AutoFun Philippines that it also offers Teison home chargers for its vehicles.

Funky city shuttle

chery ice cream mini ev pedals
The Ice Cream Sundae’s sense of humor is apparent even with the pedals. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Driving the Ice Cream Sundae is a treat all in itself.

The dashboard is refreshingly uncluttered (though part of that might be because it doesn’t have an infotainment screen) and the controls are easy to find and reach, partly because the car’s so narrow and partly because they’re in plain view of the front passengers.

chery ice cream mini ev gear selector
An exemplar of simplicity — the Ice Cream Sundae’s power-window switches and rotary gear knob are in the center console. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Stepping on the accelerator (with its clever “+” sign) for the first time is a bit of a chore because the motor can’t spin the tires fast enough to get it up to some decent speed. Once it’s going, it feels much more comfortable.

An added bonus of it being somewhat slow is that you’re always driving close to the limit. And because of its short wheelbase and rear-wheel drive layout, the Ice Cream Sundae can be scoops of fun, even at low speeds.

Beware of hills

chery ice cream mini ev interior
There is good head and leg room in the Ice Cream Sundae, but the narrow body means bigger passengers may rub elbows. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN.

Drawbacks? Yes, there are some.

For one, the seats have no height or lumbar adjustment, which are important for adjusting the driving position.

On top of this, trying to climb an incline with two extra passengers can be a struggle. It took everything the puny motor and battery pack had to climb a 30-degree incline with three of us in the car, so yes, it’s not powerful.

chery ice cream mini ev cargo area
With mini EVs like the Ice Cream Sundae, it’s either cargo space or rear passengers. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Finally, though it can seat 4 people somewhat comfortably, you won’t have space for any of their luggage and whatnot. The converse is true as well – if you want to do your weekly or monthly shopping in this, prepare to go alone or with just one passenger.

As for media, there’s no screen and no controls – how on earth do you play “Dancing Queen” by ABBA?

chery ice cream mini ev gauge
The Ice Cream Sundae has a simple digital gauge cluster that also shows the radio station. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

Thankfully, Chery thought of that – your phone is the screen and the Ice Cream Sundae has a built-in holder on top of the dashboard. You can connect it to the infotainment system via Bluetooth.

Pricey for its segment

chery wanda chery ice cream ev
The 21-seater Chery Wanda electric van towers over the Ice Cream Sundae mini EV. PHOTO BY VJ BACUNGAN

What is there still to be said about this bargain-basement EV?

It’s a small city runabout, so luxury was never on the design brief, but it seems the price didn’t get the memo. At ₱888,000, the Ice Cream Sundae is quite expensive.

And it’s not helped by the fact that it’s not the only tiny electric tot in the country. Direct competition for the Ice Cream Sundae is the Wuling mini EV, which is a similarly-sized vehicle also made in China that has two variants.

wuling gameboy mini ev exterior
The Wuling Gameboy offers nearly double the maximum range of the Ice Cream Sundae while costing less. PHOTO BY WULING PHILIPPINES

The Macaron matches the Ice Cream Sundae’s range and performance at just ₱650,000. Meanwhile, the Gameboy can do about 300 km between charges while costing ₱38,000 less than the Chery.

The Ice Cream Sundae has come a long way from Chery’s bad-tasting past. But with two Wuling mini EVs breathing down its neck, it definitely has an uphill battle ahead of it.

AutoFun Philippines Senior Writer VJ Bacungan contributed to this story.

Source: FIRST-DRIVE REVIEW: Is the Ice Cream Sundae mini EV a delectable dessert or tedious tidbit?

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