Greatest road tests ever: Suzuki Cappuccino

Greatest road tests ever: Suzuki Cappuccino

Tested 29.4.92

Hoping to steal some crumbs from the Mazda MX-5’s table, Suzuki introduced a smaller, cheaper but still entertaining kei-car roadster to the UK.

Light-hearted looks cloaked a serious spec, including a front-mounted, 12-valve, three-pot engine with an intercooled turbo boosting up to 12.8psi. Despite a heady 9300rpm cut-out, there was real urge from 2000rpm. A 679kg kerb weight and close-ratio, short-throw gearbox brought swift acceleration, although top speed was artificially limited to 83mph. Still, goading the engine was fun and the brakes were powerful.

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The Cappuccino featured allround independent suspension, rear drive delivered via an LSD and a 50:50 weight distribution, which allowed swift turn-in and throttle-adjustable mid-corner balance. The ride was fine when cruising, although it fidgeted over smaller bumps.

The tiny boot, narrow cabin and a driving position inhospitable for six-footers were shortfalls, but the three-piece aluminium roof allowed Targa-style and fully open layouts. The car’s price was ambitious, mind.

What happened next…

Unlike the grey import-only Honda Beat, the Cappuccino was a bona fide UK model, selling here from 1993 to 1996. Today, there are just under 190 left on UK roads and a further 459 SORNed, according to howmanyleft.com. They do come up for sale, though. At the time of writing, there was a 1994 example with 83k miles, three owners and a full service history for £6950 and a concours 1995 car (forensic £36k refurb in 2006, mostly dry storage since) with 84k miles for £17,990.

For: Handling, grip, looks, build quality, roof

Against: Price, ride, poor leg room and luggage space

Factfile

Price £11,995 Engine 3 cylinder in line, 657cc, turbo, petrol Power 63bhp at 6500rpm Torque 63lb ft at 4000rpm 0-60mph 11.3sec 0-100mph na Standing quarter mile 18.5sec, 73mph Top speed 83mph Economy 35.9mpg