Maruti (the Indian Suzuki) Launches New Ignis To Blow The Small Cars Segment

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I do not listen to music; not when I’m alone at home neither when I’m driving; my iPhone doesn’t even have a playlist. However, if I’ve company when I’m driving, I do not put a dampener on things and let others play their favourite music. For instance, my partner and I were on our way back to Mumbai from Delhi – a two-day, 1600km journey.

Continue reading “Maruti (the Indian Suzuki) Launches New Ignis To Blow The Small Cars Segment”

New Suzuki Swift Will Be Fun To Drive And Efficient

WHEN MARUTI LAUNCHED the Swift in 2005, it took the brand to the next level. While the cars that came before were very practical and got the job done, the Swift was all about style, fun and youthful appeal, and in the process it widened Maruti’s horizon. Now, with the new Swift, Maruti hopes to further strengthen this formula. Continue reading “New Suzuki Swift Will Be Fun To Drive And Efficient”

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Suzuki’s brand exposure is hitting new heights as a result of a pair of Geordies dominating the ad breaks on television. A bit like marmite, where some people absolutely love them, and others are in the hate camp, there’s no denying that they are two of the biggest British stars right now. For me, I can take them or leave them, and that’s pretty much how I felt about the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross. While the back of the car had strong Qashqai overtones, the front end was very nondescript and bland. And judging by the modest sales of 3,110 units last year, the buying public feel the same. But Suzuki bosses aren’t happy with that, and so a little over three years since the SX4 S-Cross went on sale, the company is hitting back with a bold new look, a range of new turbocharged petrol engines and upgraded materials for the cabin.

The Fiat-sourced 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine, also found in the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade, is carried over to the latest design, however. Most of the changes centre around the front end, with a bold American-esque front grille that is more upright than before, new intricately designed projector headlights, re-profiled front wings and bonnet, together with a fresh design for the bumpers, while at the rear there’s newly designed light clusters featuring LEDs.

A raised ride height completes the fresh new look. It is debatable whether the changes are pretty, but there’s no argument that Suzuki has banished blandness from the menu. Two diesel models are on offer, both powered by the same 1.6-litre DDiS engine. SZ-T trimmed editions are front-wheel-drive, while the SZ-5 model is paired to Suzuki’s All grip four-wheel-drive system. The latter boasts four selectable modes for use on different surfaces. It was, however, the SZ-T two-wheel-drive edition that we were able to get our hands on for this test. Priced at £20,999, and with a long list of standard kit, it’s a veritable bargain compared to the opposition. Standard kit on all diesel editions includes a navigation system, cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, a reversing camera, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights and wipers and dual-zone climate control. SZ5 versions also gain adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, heated leather seats and a panoramic glass sunroof.

From cold, the engine is a little on the chattery side, a characteristic of the Fiat-sourced unit. More soundproofing would be key to enhancing refinement, and isolating occupants from the noise. Off the line there’s sprightly performance, and a burst of power in the mid-range makes overtaking a joy. The manual gearbox shifts smoothly, with six nicely chosen ratios and a light, progressive clutch. The re’s good accuracy from the steering, which sufficiently light around town to make parking in a tight space easy. The S-Cross handles neatly and without drama, thanks to high levels of grip, with only a modest amount of lean when cornering. Ride comfort is improved compared to before, with all but the worst bumps soaked up with ease, and motorway runs a calm experience. Road noise can be quite intrusive, though, depending on the road surface, and there’s a little wind flutter from around the door seals. With a length of exactly 4.3 metres, there’s a surprising amount of space -much more than the dimensions suggest. There’s plenty of head and leg room up front, and the same for back seat passengers.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

The driving position is nicely elevated, which gives a decent view along the bonnet, while vision all-around is aided by the standard parking sensors and reversing camera. The majority of the dashboard plastics are hard, save for a soft padded area across the middle, but there are a few scratchy surfaces here and the re. The touchscreen infotainment system looks smart and is easy to use, with good quality graphics. Storage space around the cabin is pretty decent, thanks to a big bin in front of the gear lever and a reasonable sized glovebox, though there’s only space to hold a bottle of water and a few thin items in the door pockets. Boot space is well up to class standards with 430 litres of cargo room, which is identical to the Qashqai, and a little larger than the Yeti.

Fold the rear chairs down and this space more than doubles to 875 litres, when measured up to the window line. The enhancements to the SX4 S-Cross are welcomed and will help to get the car noticed in the showroom. But Suzuki’s biggest problem is the in-house competition, as the Vitara is not only more eye-catching, but is also £3,000 cheaper in front-wheel-drive guise, marginally more fuel efficient and has a similar level of equipment. Suzuki salespeople will have their work cut out diverting attention back to the SX4 S-Cross, unless the buyers really need the extra space.

Suzuki Ciaz GLX

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Suzuki’s subcompact challenges the vios with comfort and loads of equipment

In every product category, there is a dominant player and manychallengers. For subcompact cars, the 800kg gorilla in the garage is the ubiquitous Toyota Vios. Any new car that wan ts to make an impact in the segment will do well to be called a Vios killer. It’s Suzuki’s turn to bat, and its weapon of choice is the Ciaz. By design, this sedan is an outright attempt to one-up Toyota. Even the name rhymes with Vios. Perhaps Suzuki is hoping fora mix-up when it’s time to issue a Purchase Order.

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The Ciaz is remindful of the Kizashi, giving it a business-like quality

In keeping with the cryptic name, the Ciaz doesn’t make much of a first impression in the metal, either, with its subdued, inoffensive look. Suzuki has hit a couple of home runs before with the styling of its compact cars, and this one is a well-proportioned, if generic effort. Sans the big S badge, the front can pass as an entry from any number of Japanese brands. There are creases along the door lines and just above the doorsills, making the car look longer.

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Indeed, the Ciaz is the longest vehicle in its class, at 4,490mm. It’s agood 80mm longer than the Vios and 50mm longer than the City. It’s just 50mm shorter than the previous Corolla, and longer than the current Ford Focus. The taillights make the rear a dead ringer for the City, which, in turn seems to havebeen inspired by BMW. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely.

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16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels give the car added elegance.

Inside, it’s another surprise-and-delight affair, as the Suzuki comes with all the amenities that just one automotive cycle ago were reserved for the executive class. Seats are leather, and there’s metal trim decorating the center console, air vents, and gearshift surround. T here’s keyless entry and push-button engine start, including the trunk release. Mirrors power-fold, and climate controls are automatic.

LIFE ON THE INSIDE

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  • Steering wheel comes with audio controls, including phone and Bluetooth buttons.
  • Tachometer and speedometer are accompanied by a trip computer in the middle screen.
  • It makes sense to have this push-button engine start with the keyless entry system.
  • You haven’t experienced Waze until you’ve used it on a big screen Quite…trippy.
  • Plastic material is hard on top of the dash and soft on the lower parts. It’s a good mix.

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The Ciaz takes a page from the Nissan Almera’s playbook, since it also sports a long 2,650mm wheelbase. This gives the backseat lots of kneeroom, even if it’s a bit short on thigh support. There’s plenty of space to stretch out here. An odd choice is the use of stubby fixed headrests in the rear. Sitting back had the headrests pushing against my neck instead. We couldn’t reallyget comfortable because of this.

Suzuki has done a good job of dressing up the interior. The steering wheel, shifter, and secondary controls feature soft-touch plastics and leather surfaces. There are still some rock-hard bits, like the instrument binnacle. Perhaps the most distinctive part of the console—such is the state of traffic and driving these days—is the infotainment system. The double-DIN unit boasts an Android-based system. The touchscreen is responsive, and the menu system is painless to navigate. There are even built-in Google apps like Gmail, YouTube, Waze and even Facebook. Waze would be particularly useful once you connect the unit to the Internet.

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The 1.4-liter engine also propels other cars in the brand’s lineup.

The usual engines in this class are 1.3-liter for base variants and 1.5-liter for upper variants. The Ciaz splits the difference and offers a single engine—a 1.4-liter four-cylinder also used in the ErtigaMPV. With variable valve timing, it takes out 92hp and 130Nm. In the Ciaz, it’s mated to a four-speed automatic. A five-speed manual is also available.

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Automatic is the default choice because of traffic

Push the starter button and the four cylinder fires up with a snorty sound. Takeoff is smooth with the four-speed gearbox. There’s 1ess torque off the line than what we’d expect from a Vios or City, so revving it past 2,000rpm is a must to get good response. There are no sporting pretensions here, just vanilia motoring. The electric power steering is light and easy, with no attempts to provide any feedback. The long wheelbase also pays off when going over the rough stuff. The Ciaz manages to roll over the so-called repaired sections of C5 and EDSA without jiggling the cabin.

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As for trunk space, it’s enormous at 510 L, challenging the City for the biggest luggage capacity. The space is deep and wide, too, thanks to a low-mounted suspension system.

Suzuki’s mantle has been to challenge the bigger Japanese competitors by providing better value. This top Ciaz variant is loaded with all the convenience features of main competitors and then some, at a lower asking price. It’s the equivalent of house-brand ketchup or diapers. It’s just as tasty and delivers the same functions, but it’s noticeably cheaper.

SPECIFICATIONS


suzuki-ciaz-9Suzuki Ciaz GLX

Price: $17.800
Engine: 1.4-liter DOHC I4
Power: 92hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 130Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Layout/seating: FWD/5
Rival: Toyota Vios

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0 BoosterJet

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Facelift brings a stronger SUV-style look and downsized turbocharged engine

First launched in 2013, the S-Cross was Suzuki’s answer to the Nissan Qashqai. However, it never sold in high numbers,even though the market for such vehicles was growing rapidly. Why was that? According to Suzuki, a great deal came down to aesthetics. Put simply, it didn’t look like an SUV – a conclusion that clearly influenced the decision to give the S-Cross a major mid-life facelift.

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The design team have treated the S-Cross to a whole new front end. A clamshell bonnet, steep nose, aggressive air intake and new headlights endow it with a compact pseudo-SUV look. Ground clearance is also slightly higher (by 15mm) to give an air of off-road capability.

Suzuki has jumped on the downsizing bandwagon, too, ditching its naturally aspirated petrol 1.6 for two smaller- capacity Boosterjet engines – the turbocharged 1.0 and 1.4 motors found in the Baleno and Vitara S.

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We’ve already experienced Suzuki’s 1.0-litre unit in the lightweight Baleno and, in that application, we were impressed by its refinement, frugality and flexibility. However, putting the same three-cylinder motor in a car that’s 210kg heavier is a different prospect. Thankfully, this wasn’t lost on the development team, who benchmarked the 1.0 turbo against the old 1.6. The results are mixed: power is down at the top end by 7bhp but torque is up by 9%.

“Push harder and it will emit a distinctive growl, backed by impressive performance”

First impressions are rather disappointing. Press the starter button and the triple awakens gruffly, introducing a slight vibration into the cabin. However, on the move it quietens to an almost imperceptible thrum. Push harder and it will emit a distinctive growl, but this is backed by impressive performance. It’s happy to pull from below 2000rpm and continues to do so until it hits its soft limiter at around 5500rpm. A 0-62mph time of 11.0sec might not impress, but strong flexibility helps the S-Cross to feel rather sprightly in normal use.

Aside from the added ride height and revised damper settings, the S-Cross remains virtually identical to the model it replaces. However, this is no bad thing. The steering is direct, if somewhat anaesthetised, and body control is on a par with that of the Qashqai. Push harder and predictably there is some body roll, but it’s well controlled. The car is still let down somewhat by its low-speed ride, though. Revised damping has improved the primary ride, but around town it feels a little too fidgety and harsh. For day-to-day comfort, the Nissan still has the edge.

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Inside, the S-Cross is also relatively unchanged. Minor updates include a new soft-touch dashboard pad, a piano black finish for the centre panel and new seat fabric for SZ4 and SZ-T models. The changes add to what is already a pleasant enough design, although the quality of the materials could still be better.

Still, it’s all well screwed together and, given the generous standard equipment, we predict that most buyers will forgive the hard-touch plastics. Our mid-level SZ-T test car came with sat-nav, a rear parking camera, front and rear parking proximity sensors, climate control and rear privacy glass as standard.

Ergonomics are a mixed bag. Forward visibility is good, the driving position is high and commanding and the front cabin is spacious. However, rear head room is compromised by the C-pillars and sloping roofline,as is rearward visibility. At the rear, the boot is bigger than a Skoda Yeti’s and on a par with a Qashqai’s.

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Nissan Qashqai-sized boot is a useful shape

Practical, economical and packed with standard kit, the 1.0-litre S-Cross is a cost-effective choice in the crossover segment. We’d recommend the slightly more expensive £19,499 SZ-T, which comes with automatical conditioning, a parking camera and sat-nav.

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It’s worth paying extra for SZ4 tri and its added features

The S-Cross still isn’t perfect, though. The interior feels cheaper than its rivals, its low-speed ride is average and the deficit in rear head room is a real limitation. If you’re after a slightly classier cabin, we’d still suggest a similarly priced Yeti, and if it sail-round refinement you’re looking for, the answer is still the slightly pricier Qashqai.

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0 BoosterJet SZ-T

Improved by the revised looks and a peppy engine, but rivals offer better cabins or a more refined drive


suzuki-sx4-7Price: £19,449
Engine: 3cyls, 988cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 109bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 125lb ft at 2000-3500rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1160kg
0-62mph: 11sec
Top speed: 112mph
Economy: 56.4mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 113g/km, 19%
Rivals: Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T, Skod Yeti 1.2 TSI

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T

SINCE the arrival of the new Suzuki Vitara last year, the competent but rather drab-looking SX4 S-Cross has been largely ignored. It hasn’t helped, either, that the two models share a puzzlingly similar space in the crossover market. Now, though, Suzuki has given the SX4 S-Cross a significant restyle with the aim of making it look more like an SUV. It also benefits from a boost (in more ways than one) in the form of two new turbocharged petrol engines. We tried it with the smaller 1.0-litre Boosterjet unit to see if it can become a credible cut-price alternative to the Nissan Qashqai. The first thing that will catch your eye is the new front end.

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D-Cross now feels more agile than before, while the suspension has been tweaked to deliver more in way of comfort

The bonnet has been raised and the nose is more vertically slanted to give it a “stronger and bolder road presence”, according to Suzuki bosses. We’re not so sure; to our eyes that big chrome grille sits a bit awkwardly with the lights and bonnet, but we’ll concede that it’s undeniably more distinctive than the anonymous looks of the old car. That’s the main change to the exterior, but look harder and you’ll spot more. The lower body cladding and front air intakes are restyled, plus there are fresh alloy wheel designs, LED headlights and LED tail-lamps. Additionally, the suspension has been jacked up by a not insignificant 15mm – to further bolster the illusion that this is a fully blown SUV rather than just a hatchback on stilts.

Improvements – Inside, there are small improvements to the dash, with soft-touch plastics, gloss black trim surrounding the touchscreen and the option of some brighter materials. There are still plenty of scratchier materials on the doors, upper dash and many touchpoints, but it all feels well screwed together. Suzuki has also fitted the fresher infotainment system from the Vitara, which is bigger and easier to operate on the move than the dated old unit. It’s a pity, then, that the screen graphics already look a bit cheap. Overall, despite the improvements, the S-Cross is still more functional than desirable. That fits with Suzuki’s two-pillar structure, though, with each segment featuring two distinct models.

Entry -level turbo petrol has a five-speed manual gearbox, but it helps make the S-Cross feel eager and flexible - and there's enough power and torque for most people
Entry -level turbo petrol has a five-speed manual gearbox, but it helps make the S-Cross feel eager and flexible – and there’s enough power and torque for most people

While the Vitara is supposedly a crossover to covet, the S-Cross is pitched as being more practical. Still, that’s not the whole story, as there’s more to this Suzuki than meets the eye. For starters, it’s more spacious than most crossovers in this price bracket. There’s lots of room fora six-footer to sit behind a similarly sized driver and headroom is plentiful, while Suzuki has freed up another 10 litres of space in the boot thanks to a reclining backrest. It’s now up to 440 litres, which is also 10 litres more than in a Nissan Qashqai. It’s surprisingly enjoyable to drive, too. The HObhp 1.0-litre Boosterjet unit replaces the old naturally aspirated 1.6, and we think it’s the pick of the new range. It feels eager, mainly thanks to the S-Cross’s slim 1,160kg kerbweight.

As a result the car feels faster than its conservative 1.0-litre engine in a SEAT Ateca, but it’s flexible, willing to rev and sounds pleasant, too. Combine that with very competitive fuel economy figures and CO2 emissions, and the diesel engine makes much less sense than it did before. You can even spec this engine with Suzuki’s ALLGRIP selectable four-wheel drive for an extra £1,700. It handles well. Granted, a Mazda CX-3 is more composed, but the S-Cross feels more nimble than before. The body is stiffer, while the suspension has been tweaked to improve stability and comfort.

New wheel designs help give the S-Cross a fresh look, in addition to the revised grille treatment, raised suspension and LED lights. There's more cladding too for a true SUV stance
New wheel designs help give the S-Cross a fresh look, in addition to the revised grille treatment, raised suspension and LED lights. There’s more cladding too for a true SUV stance

Body roll is noticeable when you push a little harder, but it’s grippy and agile. Rough roads and sharp low-speed bumps occasionally unsettle it, however. The Suzuki’s real appeal lies in the value it offers. Despite being not far off a Qashqai in terms of size and interior space, it’s priced to compete with the smaller Nissan Juke. It starts from just £14,995, while our mid-spec SZ-T is £19,499 and comes with sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Suzuki Gixxer 150: The Start Of An Incredible Ride

This is the Suzuki Gixxer 150, a naked bike with sporty styling and feel. It accelerates nicely on flat roads, perfect for the daily commute and zipping through traffic. The bike’s aesthetics will definitely appeal to both newbies and old-timers. It has a sleek fuel-tank shape so that it can be gripped by the rider’s legs, and a chrome twin muffler, which, aside from giving a throaty exhaust note, is a truly unique feature sure to make people give it a second look.

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Add to that, the ease of operation such as going up and down through the gears very easily, even at a standstill, and you get a package that’s very user friendly. The Gixxer’s engine delivers great power and is frugal on gas at the same time, thanks to the S.E.P.—Suzuki Eco Performance Technology, developed by Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Limited.

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Although it struggled a bit uphill when we tested it going up to Tanay and the Sierra Madre Resort, it wasn’t overly stressed and is very much at home in an urban setting as an excellent city bike. The Gixxer sports Y Spoke Magnesium wheels found in higher-end motorcycles, which are wrapped by a 100-mm front and 140-mm wide rear tires that provide good grip in dry conditions, while stopping power comes from a Bybre front disc brake and a rear drum, that despite being adequate, can be improved with a disc for better feedback and a more precise feel. A bright LED tail and brake light provide visibility from the rear and the turn signals are not integrated into the tail light assembly.

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For the more advanced user, an adjustable rear mono shock allows the suspension to be tuned to suit the rider’s preference. Either being able to absorb bumps and potholes on bad roads or better handling through bends and corners. While some may find the LCD instrument panel display too busy, it is clearly visible day or night and provides useful information like a speed and gear indicator for those who like to correctly keep track of what gear they are in.

The panel itself is designed to be compact and minimalist to give the bike a cleaner overall look. The Gixxer is equipped with an automatic headlight once you turn on the ignition key. This is now a standard safety feature in almost all new motorcycles for improved visibility even during daytime.

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Another notable safety feature is that the rider will not be able to start the engine without pressing the clutch lever. This prevents accidentally starting the bike in gear and running away from the rider. With so many things positive about this bike, there is, however, one area that Suzuki can improve on—using the kick starter. This requires folding the foot peg first.

Although the only time we may need to use it is when the battery becomes weak or when the electric starter fails. In terms of pricing in the premium 150cc sport naked segment, the Gixxer is P25,000 cheaper than the Yamaha FZ16 and about P 13,000 more than the Kawasaki Bajaj Rouser 150NS. All three Japanese brand bikes are imported from India. The key differences are the Yamaha FZ16 uses fuel injection while the Kawasaki Rouser 150 is equipped with a TPS or Throttle Position Sensor for improved fuel efficiency and sports narrower tube type tires.

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Over all it’s a great bike, probably one of the best in the standard naked 150cc class. Suzuki may be starting a new trend by referring to it as a “street sport”. Although there are many 150cc motorcycles in the market, “most are business models, off road bikes or underbones,” In short, good value for money. A vast majority of first-time motorcycle buyers choose scooters and underbones. While price is one of the deciding factors in these choices, simplicity and ease of use are also taken into consideration. For those who choose to go the other direction, a manual clutch and gear shift, and are just starting to ride, the Gixxer is a great learner bike for improving skills on a ‘proper’ standard bike.

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The ergonomics allow the rider to be more connected to the bike and thus generate more confidence. It’s also great for seasoned riders who like to ride long distances because of the upright and relatively non-aggressive riding position. The 12-liter gas tank and good fuel economy will get you far in between fill-ups. So just in case you’re still not convinced of the bike’s street cred, know this: prior to its arrival on Philippine shores, the bike had already won numerous awards in India, including one from Top Gear. A clear testament to how good the bike really is.

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Suzuki Cappuccino – 1991

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The Japanese have an honourable tradition of building sports cars with tiny engines, and showed they hadn’t forgotten how with the splendid little front mid-engined Suzuki Cappuccino that made an appearance in 1992. This met Kei-car specifications (allowing it to exploit Japan’s favourable tax and insurance regime for small cars). Weighing in at a featherweight 1543 lb (700 kg), the Cappuccino had an alloy three-cylinder engine that was just 3 ccs beneath the ungenerous 660 cc Kei-car limit (albeit turbocharged). This was later uprated to a lighter, more powerful unit. Continue reading “Suzuki Cappuccino – 1991”

Suzuki SC100 GX ‘Whizzkid’ – 1979

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The Suzuki name is now garlanded with accolades from two-wheel motor sports. Such success was inconceivable when, in 1952, the company abandoned its long history of making industrial looms for weavers, and gambled everything on motorizing some of Japan’s 97 million people. Early experience with mopeds and motorbikes encouraged Suzuki to explore ways of minimizing four-wheel transport for domestic and commercial use. Continue reading “Suzuki SC100 GX ‘Whizzkid’ – 1979”