If you’re a fan of the distinctive looks of a Jeep but will mostly be driving it on paved roads, like a normal-human car, and you don’t have $28,000 for the cheapest new Wrangler, you should be asking yourself one important question: why aren’t I looking to Tunisia? It’s the question we should all be asking ourselves about so many things, but in this particular case, it’s even more relevant. That’s because Tunisia is where they make the Wallyscar Iris.
Wallyscar is the first completely Tunisian carmaker. Founded in 2006, it started out building little Jeep-like cars out of fiberglass and engines (and other bits) sourced from PSA Peugeot-Citroën (now Stellantis, about which you should ask your doctor). Wallyscar has sold about 2,200 cars so far, and it made a little video explaining its’ origin, if you’re interested:
It seems that a pair of brothers — Zied and Omar Guiga — were smitten by another builder of subscale Jeep knockoffs, called the Dallas Jeep, and got inspired from there.
Wallyscar took a different path, though, with a less slavish copy of the Jeep design, developing something more Jeep-inspired than a scaled-down copy. Its’ first car, the Izis, used a steel chassis and a fiberglass body and was FWD-only.
This new model, the Iris, is essentially the same—a FWD, steel-chassis’d car with a fiberglass body, powered by an 82 horsepower 1.2-liter inline-three made by PSA, which seems to be the same engine used in the latest Citroën C3.
This little engine is enough to get the Iris to about 86 mph, and go from 0 to 62 in about 11 seconds, about the same as an ’80s BMW 318i, and people managed to merge onto freeways in those. So, ’80s BMW acceleration and 35 city/47 mpg highway mileage — not too bad!
You can barely buy anything in the U.S. market for $15,000, and I think something like this — which, of course, is about as unobtainable here as a dog accountant — could be, hypothetically, a really fun addition to the low-end market.
I mean, look at it! It’s a lot more fun than a base-spec Versa and it can’t even rust!
The interior sure is, um, on the inside! Really, though, it’s not so bad! There’s even a good bit of luggage room, and that rear seat folds flat:
And, of course, that’s not even mentioning that the rear roof bit is removable, which makes it a very affordable open-air machine, sort of like the first-gen Isuzu Rodeo or an early Toyota RAV-4, or something.
The panel above the front seats is removable as well, so no one should have to fight over the view of the sky.
Oh, and it’s a manual, too, so for those of your dedicated to The Cause, here’s a great example to champion.
Look, this instrument cluster looks modern enough, right? It’s fine!
I’d also like to compliment Wallyscar’s photographer for including exciting detail pictures like these:
If your big deciding factor in buying a car is really knowing what the third brake lamp and fuel filler cap look like up close, they’ve got you covered.
Also, that fiberglass texture in that beige looks a lot like the fake stucco used on the front facades of Holiday Inn Expresses all over America.
And, for safety, well, the previous version, the Izis, got 2 stars on the Euro NCAP, which isn’t amazing, but it’s something, and I’d expect this newer one is likely a little better, likely better than many used cars would be in this price range? Maybe?
I’m really taken by this thing, so here’s what I’m thinking: since Stellantis already has a supplier relationship with Wallyscar, and since Stellantis now owns Jeep, the company should consider federalizing these things and bringing them to America as Jeep’s new entry-level offering, somewhere under $20,000, and just being ready to own the entire sub-$20,000 car market, because, come on, this goofy thing absolutely would, at least according to the advance simulations I’m running in my head as I type this.
Think about it, Stellantis. If you’re interested, you can probably just put a CALL ME post-it on the next batch of three-bangers you ship out to Tunis.