Motoring / Road Test: Dinky toy for big boys: The small Cappuccino is strong on driver appeal, reports Brett Fraser
Saturday 06 August 1994
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.
Suzuki Cappuccino, pounds 11,995
Engine: 657cc, three cylinders, 64bhp at 6,500rpm. Five-speed gearbox. Top speed 93mph. Fuel consumption 35-45mpg.
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.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
Overly-controlling parents cause their children lifelong psychological damage, says study
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Star Wars BB-8 droid toy is real, should be impossible
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This children's clothing compan...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading manufacturer...
£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...