The Suzuki method: Just add joy.
Venturing onto Suzuki’s Japanese Domestic Market web portal is not only a journey of discovery in itself, its colourful site is quite the joy to behold. And should you find the succinctly melodious Alto not to your liking, there’s a whole host of radical, sophisticated and downright interesting models to whet those with a JDM appetite.
Our Western values place freedom, and power alongside that ole chestnut, sex appeal – not to forget the wonders of that new-fangled electricity in brand advertising. Add in easy terms at every opportunity. That’s our way – the choice is yours to accept them or not. The Japanese, to eyes unaccustomed to such a varied culture, appear to promote fun, safety and economy, alongside more subtle allusions to attracting the attention of whomever one is attracted to. Having had electrical cars since Adam was a lad, Suzuki wish to promote their wares as definitive means of mobilisation – easy terms thrown in too.
Take the Solio. Omitting the Nihingo scripture, the first English word on screen is Good! A nice start to a family oriented kei-car with a suitably inane grinning family clad in costume which resembles pyjamas – blue and white stripes. Then to five main areas of pertinence: space for a family of five, with luggage. A rear sliding door – no supermarket door prangs here. Unparalleled safety equipment.
Then a couple more surrounding the generally wonderful feeling this car exudes; the higher driving position, cubby holes of any perceived shape, size and location, not to mention the sheer ease is of living with a Solio. The dashboard perpetuates the family centric opinion inasmuch it retains exuberance with functionality – almost Citroën-like. The Solio credo: “Body to compact, Space to BIG!”
With eight colours, front or all wheel drive in connection with a CVT and frugal petrol hybrid power, Solio is a perfectly acceptable means of shifting kinfolk, chattels, et al. But should you wish to spice things up a little…
Two attractive young people flank the main image where Solio’s edgier sibling resides. Bandit Solio (or is it Solio Bandit?) brings eleven hues including deep purple, four being two-tone (black roof), the same distinctive exterior sculpting flourish, along with heaps of charisma. The grille and lights are marginally transformed from its standard sibling. Inside, er, the same. But look how easy we’ve leapt from family runabout to seductive chariot. Same car, different niche, contrasting customer base. Good!
Does the survey metadata place you in the outdoors brigade? Then Suzuki has just the ticket: the Hustler, J Style. With a wheel at each corner and an agreeably rounded off oblong box look to the outside, there’s more than a hint of handsome, rugged looks. External details that caught my untrained eye are the symbiotic front end – everything you need and nothing more (although options in the gazillions naturally exist) all within perfect kei-car dimensions alongside being suitably different from rivals. Another being the funkiest door handle insert yet observed, quite inimitable.
Notice too how unlike larger exponents of outdoor lifestyles, no spare tyre resides to the Hustler’s rear – you get a tin of goo. That third window and vertical C-pillar really open things up, visually and objectively, a mini masterpiece of clever design. Smoked glass has never been my thing but one hears such treatments are advantageous in hotter climes.
Suzuki in their own way inform us of the platform that pursues weight reduction and high rigidity whilst adding such a structure “realises comfortable driving.” Is the Japanese tarmac as poor as most Western motorists suffer? Procuring the talents of Google translate, they also elicit the wisdoms of the annular skeleton providing rigidity incorporating high steering stability and ride quality.
By their own admission, this too is part of that translation; “The underbody structure smoothly connects the bent skeleton to create a rational and simple shape. Suspension parts are used as part of the skeleton, and the strong parts where the skeletons are connected are used to fix the parts. While reducing the number of reinforcing parts, both improvement in basic performance and weight reduction are achieved.” The tricky differences between sentences in diverse Japanese and English, there methinks.
Colours there are eleven. What Western company offers gun metallic roofs with main body colours in Vermilion Orange, Denim or Blisk Blue, Active Yellow or Cheerful Pink? Prefer monotone masks? All metallic, Chiffon Ivory, Off Blue, Blueish Black Pearl 3 (no less) or Cool Khaki should lighten moods.
“Run, stack and play more” is the internal Hustler mantra. Add playfulness to that. Exuberance too fits here as much as anyone’s muddy boots or bike. And space, lots of space. While doubtful many yoga positions could be performed, for its intended uses, that elevated stance and myriad cubbyholes will probably mean hours spent searching for those missing laces, carabiners and phone.
But just look at that dashboard! At risk of upsetting Allegro owners (oh well…) those squircles liven up matters convincingly. The left hand side version folds down as a table whilst acting as a glovebox. The centre provides all necessary information and facilities a modern motor requires with the drivers eyes looking at the speedometer. All this in combination with four vertical air vents make this platform interactive, tactile and so far removed from the sober, austere interfaces most of us occasionally gawp at, stuck in traffic. It’s another master stroke. Choosing a fancy exterior colour alters those squircles accordingly. Neatly exuberant.
‘But I need cup holders and hooks to hang my designer shopping bag!’ Check: front and rear has copious devices. And should one forget the everyday shopping bag, the front passenger seat squab lifts revealing yet another storage area which also transforms into a retail therapy basket. Front seats can be heated and the deck can flatten to become a sleeping area. Suzuki sell mattresses along with colour coded pillows, perfect for camping, ready for next morning’s climb/ bike ride/ surfing session. Or, the wife’s kicked you out and the office can’t accommodate, meaning you have to get creative.
As are Suzuki. Unwavering external dimensions require thinking outside the (same) box. The MINI-esque X-Bee (some in tri-tones!), the Spacia – available in Gear and Custom flavours, or Wagon R or sleek Stingray Wagon R hybrid turbo are pretty much the same, yet contrast through determined thought. Such efforts require discipline, planning and something the West often lacks – that all-important sense of joy.