Readers not wishing to indulge our predilection for all things diminutive, Japanese and fluffy might perhaps wish to look away now.
How predictably Driven To Write, you might suggest, for us to fawn over some cute and unobtainable Japanese Kei car. After all, it’s not as if Suzuki doesn’t also offer a multitude of the SUV and crossover things we’re so frequently critical about on these pages.
Fair point, and I have no intention of singling out Suzuki as a bastion of elevated values. But with the proviso that other, perhaps equally endearing Kei cars are available (in Japan), Suzuki have nevertheless gone to the trouble to produce the Lapin. Which incidentally suggests that there is a market (in Japan) for cars like these. But not elsewhere, it would seem. What is the matter with us?
Surely there must be thousands of both men and women who would be more than happy, nay, delighted to perambulate about their adopted urban setting in something as bright, cheerful and downright joyous as this? It even has a bunny-rabbit badge, for heaven’s sake.
By way of recap, the Lapin is based on the popular Alto hatchback and like it, is powered by a three cylinder petrol engine of 660cc, driving the front wheels via a Constantly Variable Transmission. Undoubtedly it offers a thoroughly unremarkable driving experience – certainly not the sort of machine one might ideally choose to give the Nordschleife a good spanking – although it would be highly amusing to try.
For 2019, Suzuki have added a number of safety-related driver-aids, partly aimed at the fact that these cars are predominantly urban dwellers and also to cater to an older age group who it seems tend to favour these models, owing it would seem to more stringent laws in Japan relating to insurance and age-related eligibility to drive.
There are also new colours and trim packages and that’s before we get to the options. And what options! Can anyone recall other car (this side of some bespoke plutocratic conveyance anyway) which offers a dashboard-mounted, felt-lined pull-out jewellery drawer? I don’t own any jewellery at the present time, but were I in possession of a Lapin thus equipped, I think I might feel the need to obtain or otherwise purloin some.
Doesn’t it say something about Japanese culture that it is mature enough to appreciate a vehicle whose semiotics are centred around non-aggression and a slightly naïve, if nonetheless, knowing charm? Surely I’m not alone in coveting a Lapin of my own – perhaps in some recess of our collective consciousness, we all harbour a hitherto unspoken and illicit desire to Kai-Car our lives.