Cars are getting fatter. The MINI is no longer mini, the so called superminis filling up dealership forecourts dwarf fully-fledged family cars of old and the Ka is soon going to be built with five doors. It’s a world gone mad, and it’s a world in which our roads are reaching bursting point. Horror, doom, gloom, Daily Mail, yada yada.
It’s not all bad though. There are still cheeky chunks of svelte motoring out there for you to enjoy, should you like your small cars small and your cockpits cocoon-like. There’s the original Mini, though it’s a bit old in the tooth now. There’s the Perodua Nippa (trust us, what it lacks in street cred it makes up for in driver fun) and there’s the original Ka, should you be able to find one that’s not rusted into oblivion. Just some examples from a choice of many for you to consider. All cheap, all fun to drive, all readily available.
But what if you want compact and bijou motoring sans lid, you demanding automotive diva, you? Well, worry not. The ’90s are here to save the day, but not with Britpop and Hooch, no no, with this – the Suzuki Cappuccino.
Brave. Might get swept away.
It’s ruddy tiny, look at it! Go right in your pocket, so it would. Though that would defeat the object of buying a car, what with their ability to move folk around, when not restrained in a pocket of course.
It’s small because it’s a Kei car and, well, they have to be small. If you’re not sure what we’re on about, allow us *cough* well, Wikipedia to explain…
“Kei car, K-car, or kei jidōsha (軽自動車?, lit. “light automobile”) (pronounced [keːdʑidoːɕa]), is a Japanese category of small vehicles, including passenger cars, vans, and pickup trucks. They are designed to comply with Japanese government tax and insurance regulations.”
It’s a really small car basically. How small? Well, we’ve created this accurate representation of the Cappuccino’s dimensions. Yes… accurate.
Okay, so it’s not quite as small as a Micro Machine, but it’s not far off when compared to its normal road-going peers. At just 54.9in wide and 129.7in long, this is one teeny, tiny cabrio.
So, it’s cramped and horrid to drive then, surely? Well, no actually. Admittedly the last time The Pollitt drove one was some thirteen years ago. He wasn’t any shorter back then (6’3) and he managed to drive it just fine. Though he was much slimmer. Getting in one today maybe more of a surgical procedure than a motoring event. Something you should consider, should you be a little heavy on the ‘success ballast’ side of things.
When we jump-started his brain, he did tell us that it was a hoot to drive. Makes sense really, what with rear-wheel-drive, a wheel at each corner and less than 750kg at the kerb. Throw the 12 valve, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine into the mix and you’re left with a right little pocket rocket.
You couldn’t describe it as a powerhouse, what with having only 60ish bhp (Kei cars faced strict upper limits on power, weight and so on), but it was still enough to fling the little hot beverage namesake round at a pace one might consider brisk. It was fun, plain and simple.
What it wasn’t, was practical. The roof came off (or it could be a targa), but it would fill most of the space in what was already a teeny, tiny boot when folded up. It also pushed the limits of a two seater to the very edge – you should only drive one of these if you’re really, REALLY comfortable with your passenger. Though you could use the forced closeness to your advantage – it’d make a great first date car, nudge nudge, wink wink.
It’s a bit of a cult classic these days, and as such they fetch strong money. However, they are out there for circa £2000 and you’ll never lose money on one, provided you look after it.
Plus, it’s money well spent when you take into account how much fun even the most mundane of trips becomes when behind the wheel.