5 reasons why you need a Suzuki Cappuccino in your life

The little Kei car has quickly become a modern classic

2y ago


I made the classic petrolhead choice after suffering through my first couple of front-wheel drive cars. I bought an MX-5.

It's my little project car and after a serious rust repair, I'm not far away from buying a supercharger for it and turning it into a proper little performance car. But after a stroll around my local neighbourhood, I stumbled upon a little car that obviously hasn't moved for years. And I want it. Here it is.

1,182 Cappuccinos came to the UK in red and silver at a ratio of 4:1, making this little beauty a tad rare.

1,182 Cappuccinos came to the UK in red and silver at a ratio of 4:1, making this little beauty a tad rare.

It's a Suzuki Cappuccino and it has been sitting without a price tag in this garage car park ever since I moved to London. With that quaint little intake and the scale of the car compared to all of the mammoth TTs and Beetles parked nearby, my savings seem set to take a serious dive.

I think this is the coolest entry to sportscar ownership out there, and that the Cappuccino deserves a lot more praise than it currently gets – so let me try to convince you to search the secondhand ads for one of these tiny Japanese pocket rockets.

It's the perfect alternative to the MX-5

As with most tiny Japanese roadsters, this little nugget is front-engined and rear-wheel drive. But what makes the Cappuccino even more impressive is that it manages to achieve a 50:50 weight distribution (when both a driver and passenger are in place).

It achieves this by shoving the engine as far back from the front axle as possible and will give it a distinct dynamic advantage over the much-loved Mazda MX-5. I love my MkII MX-5, but the added exclusivity and better looks of the Cappuccino would easily create a £3000 hole in my bank account. Wouldn't make for a shabby two-car garage though.

A 657cc turbocharged engine is a refreshingly small powertrain

The Japanese did downsizing before it was cool due to government tax legislation and the Suzuki Cappuccino is easily the coolest package to find the sub-660cc engines used in Kei cars.

Considering the noise that the motoring world has made with regards to Ford's 1.0-litre turbo Ecoboost power unit, the little boosted, motorcycle-like engine in the Suzuki deserves much more credit for providing a fun, thrashy engine before manufacturers became obsessed with decreasing displacement.

It revs to 9,300rpm

The tiny little cylinders matched with equally dainty pistons means that there's very little reciprocating mass getting thrown around the engine block. And with some decent balancing, the Suzuki engineers decided to limit the Cappuccino to a smirk-generating 9,300rpm.

That's getting on to motorbike levels of reciprocation and will make for a drive that will have you leaving it in the low gears right up to the redline. Rotaries, step aside, there's a new screamer in town. And it's from 1991.

It only weighs 725kg

Sure, having an MX-5 or an MR2 flirting around the 1000kg mark is great. But if you want a kerb weight that would make even Colin Chapman froth at the mouth, then the Suzuki Kei car is a prime candidate to spend your pennies on.

You could even strip it of all its accessories and have one of the lightest cars possible at a track day. Although maybe stick to hillclimbs - 63bhp isn't going to get you very far down a pit straight.

There's a hot version

During the Cappuccino's development throughout its life, it moved from the F6A engine to the K6A engine which came with proper chain-driven camshafts, leading to an increase in torque. The engine was also lighter and had the option of a three-speed automatic transmission, although you'd be crazy not to find a five-speed manual car.

The later version also came with lighter wheels and a limited-slip differential - as if you needed more convincing that this is now the car of your dreams and that a massive classifieds session is at hand.

You can get an imported Cappuccino for £3,000-£4,000 on eBay these days. And with MX-5 and MR2 prices on the rise, now is definitely the time to invest in one of these rare sports cars from a time gone by.

Do you agree with me? Or is there a soon-to-be classic that has caught your attention recently that would pip this three-pot little midge? Comment with your suggestions below!

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Comments (43)

  • Well, seems a perfect car for a shortarse like me...

      2 years ago
  • Keep your supercar. I now want one of these bad boys.

      2 years ago
  • It’s sooo small!

    I saw one and it was only as big as, like, a suitcase

      2 years ago
  • Never driven one. I loved my old MX5, but it was always screaming for more power. I suspect you'd get the same effect with one of these - love at first drive, but a creeping desire for more power... I think the Honda Beat looks quite good fun too, but it needs more poke. Both Kei cars and the MX5 need a more potent powerplant. I honestly think if Mazda did a 275 BHP factory supercharged MX5 they would sell like hot cakes.

      2 years ago
  • I am 6'6" with a 37" inside leg ... perhaps I should look elsewhere!

      2 years ago