Motoring / Road Test: Dinky toy for big boys: The small Cappuccino is strong on driver appeal, reports Brett Fraser

THE ONLY big thing about the new Suzuki Cappuccino is its price: pounds 11,995. Why so much for a car you could carry on an aircraft as hand baggage? Blame the agreement that limits the number of Japanese-built cars which can be sold here. If it is bringing in a little car, Suzuki must still make an average-size profit from it.

The tiny Cappuccino (only 129.7 inches long) looks like a motorised Dinky toy: it does not seem feasible that anyone past puberty could squeeze inside. But they do, and when they step out afterwards, they are smiling.

Suzuki has not produced a shrunken car just to be different: the Cappuccino is a product of Japanese law. Overcrowded city streets have resulted in the 'microcar' class, with strict rules governing their dimensions (including engine size). To buy a full-size car in Japanese cities, you need to provide proof that you have off-street parking, but you can leave a microcar on the road.

The tiny Suzuki is perfectly proportioned for outsmarting British urban congestion, too. It can wriggle into Mini-sized parking spaces and nip easily through gaps in rush-hour traffic. And because it looks so cute, you will even find folk making space so you can get through.

If you are thinking that in a car so small there cannot be much under the bonnet, you are right. And wrong. The three-cylinder engine boasts just 657cc (keeping it within the 660cc limit of Japan's microcar laws), but is brawny far beyond its cubic capacity. Double-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, fuel injection and a tiny turbocharger help it to produce a mighty (all things considered) 64bhp; it can produce much more power than this, but the microcar regulations also control power output.

They limit top speed, too, to 87mph. Frankly, it is just as well, because at motorway speeds it buzzes and screeches at an unpleasant volume and is bashed about by the great winds that blow off big trucks.

On any other sort of road, though, it is party time. Because the Cappuccino occupies such a small area, you get more road to play with: B-roads become as wide as A-roads. You can experiment with the corners, safe in the knowledge that if you get it wrong you will still be on your own side of the road. The Cappuccino has rear-wheel drive, which makes it a more satisfying 'driver's' car; it is better balanced through corners than most front-wheel-drive cars, and the steering is sharper and more responsive.

Adding to the fun on the open road (and in town, for that matter) is that whizzy little engine. Its maximum rev markings begin at 8,500rpm; most normal engines would have gone pop by that point. When the turbocharger kicks in, the Cappuccino is able to stay ahead of most other traffic.

Like it so far? Drop the roof and you will like it even more. The ingenious roof is not made of canvas but a rigid plastic material. Its rear section has a heated glass window, and pivots down behind the seats when not required. The rest of the roof is in three sections that can be removed altogether for the full alfresco effect or one at a time to admit as much fresh air as you want.

If you are much over 6ft, this is not a car for you: even if you do not mind looking over the top of the windscreen, there is not enough length in the cabin for your legs. It is cosy even for short people, with the door-trim panel against one thigh and the transmission tunnel against the other. Forget about luggage: with all the roof bits stowed away, that leaves enough room for a lunchbox.

But who said sports cars were meant to be practical? Ignore the compromises, and you can have great fun in the tiny Cappuccino.

SPECIFICATIONS

Suzuki Cappuccino, pounds 11,995

Engine: 657cc, three cylinders, 64bhp at 6,500rpm. Five-speed gearbox. Top speed 93mph. Fuel consumption 35-45mpg.

COMPARISONS

Fiat Punto 1.6 ELX Cabrio, pounds 12,996

Unlike the Cappuccino, the Punto is not a sports car; but it is the cheapest cabrio for sale in Britain. It seats four, and is a hoot to drive.

Mazda MX-5 1.8i, pounds 14,495

Much dearer than the baby Suzuki, but bigger and more powerful. Great to drive and to own: MX-5s hold their value extremely well.

Suzuki Vitara convertible 1.6 JLX, pounds 11,250

Little off-roader bought for the same reasons as the Cappuccino - top-down fun on a relatively modest budget. Does not perform or handle as well.

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick