Drive Type: 4x4
Newburgh, Indiana, United States
As an automaker, Suzuki may be long gone from American shores, but it's still a force to be reckoned with in its home country of Japan. At this week's Tokyo Motor Show, the brand known as much for its two-wheeled fare as its four displayed a slew concept vehicles for both drivers and riders.
The first is the Crosshiker concept (above), which Suzuki says is a followup to the Regina concept that debuted two years ago at the Tokyo show. Based on the same platform but elevated to the stance of a crossover, the Crosshiker is motivated by a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine, keeping it eco-chic while appealing to adventurous types with its fun styling.
Next up is the X-Lander Concept (above, left) that Suzuki says was made for use in the city and "sometimes go out to play in the field." Based on the Japanese-market production Jimny, the X-Lander features four-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain with a 1.3-liter engine.
It's not a secret that a few of us here at Autoblog have a crush on Japanese Kei cars. The diminutive sizes and cheeky looks of most of the segment are certainly endearing factors, but it was the sporting Kei cars of the 1990s that made for the most delicious forbidden fruit.
Suzuki's entry in that time and market space was the Cappuccino, a rear-wheel-drive coupe with a removable roof and roll bar, powered by a 657cc three-cylinder motor. The car hung around the Japanese market until 1997 (and was booted up in Gran Turismo form for years after that). Now, rumor has it that the little coupe could be getting a reboot around 2016.
The reports are still a bit short on detail; some indicate that a new Cappuccino could be built up on an existing Kei platform from Suzuki. If the new car were to keep the RWD layout of the original, however, that would mean building up the model on the live-rear-axle bones of the Suzuki Jimny or Carry.
The death of Suzuki's American automotive operations can be chalked up to many, many things. One thing it cannot be blamed on, however, is the arguable goodness of its products. The company's criminally underrated offerings included the Kizashi sedan, the SX4 compact and your author's personal favorite, the Grand Vitara.
The GV rode on a radically different version of General Motors' Theta platform, which underpins the American manufacturer's current crop of crossovers, like the Chevrolet Equinox. What made the Grand Vitara special, though, was that it wasn't just another run-of-the-mill CUV. Buying the cheapest model meant living with rear-wheel drive rather than the Theta's typical front drive. Spend a bit of money, though, and you'd end up with an honest-to-goodness off-roader, sporting selectable four-wheel drive complete with low-range gearbox. It also comfortably sat five, was reasonably efficient and was quite handsome. We aren't totally sure how it turned into this.
This, of course, being the new Vitara (it replaces the Escudo, the vehicle Americans know as the Grand Vitara), and it will make its global debut at October's Paris Motor Show, which has ditched its four-wheel-drive system for a part-time all-wheel-drive system called Allgrip.