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.


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.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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


ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

    Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

    £14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

    Guru Careers: Financial Controller

    £45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals