• Nov 30, 2008
Click above for a hi-res gallery of the Suzuki Alto Lapin

Sporting a name that could roughly mean "high pitched rabbit" is loveably quirky, and so it fits that the name is affixed to a kei car. Suzuki's 660cc microcar, styled in the same idiom that has shaped Nissan's Cube, though the 'Zuki calls to mind the original Mini more than other squared-off micros. The styling is about the only thing that Suzuki hasn't changed on the Alto Lapin, which has been on sale since 2002. There are upgrades to the platform, powertrain, and interior, making the Alto Lapin a virtually new vehicle. The interior rework brings a newfound sense of space, if that can truly be said about anything so tiny, and the stylish design is rendered in classy materials. A new CVT makes the most of the 53 naturally aspirated or 63 turbocharged horsepower while delivering nearly 58 mpg. The car, with its inherent cuteness, is aimed at women buyers (like many other keis, it's offered in pink), and there's a whole line of "Lapin Goods" to go along with the car. With a price between $11,000 and $15,000, there's some scratch left over for trinkum that will make you nearly as stylish as your Alto Lapin. Click here for a translated version of Suzuki's press release.


[Source: Suzuki via Autofiends]


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  • 31 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is it just me, or is that a quarter-sized Flex?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Queue Nissan Lawyers....
        • 6 Years Ago
        yup realized i misspelled it soon as i sent it. Thats what a day of programming will do to the brain.

        Im just amazed at how similar these two look no matter who copied who. Im all for practical box cars but lets get some variety please.
        • 6 Years Ago
        First, it's "cue." Unless you're suggesting that they're lining up to sue them.

        Second, Nissan has had 6 years to do this. The Lapin is not a new model, and it looked pretty much like this in the previous generation.
      • 6 Years Ago
      PS- the engine should be larger for US and a thick chrome bumper would make it more manly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why on Earth would you want to make a car named after a bunny rabbit more manly?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I took one look at this car and squealed in a high-pitched voice "IT'S SO CUTE!" It reminds me of a boxy Mini Cooper. If they released it in the States with a bigger motor and that name, girls from all over would swarm Suzuki dealerships.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hey, if I were going to swarm a Suzuki dealership it would be for the Equator. The Nissan Cube is a better car all around anyway, unless Suzuki upped the engine size.
        • 6 Years Ago
        and one man
      • 6 Years Ago
      Kinda cool in the same way Steve Urckle is cool.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @ BoneHeadOtto

      I guess now would be a good time to point out that pretty much my only driving is on the freeway. I need to use the interstate to commute to university, and my high school buddies all live and work in another city bout an hour away. So my driving is typically around 80 mph. Comically, my speedometer literally stops at 85, but not only can the swift push that speed, it does so while getting the mileage I mentioned.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm a little disappointed in the commenters who are asking for a bigger engine in this tiny little car. I think you're missing the point - fuel economy!

      Don't get me wrong, I love big motored cars. I've driven 455 HD Pontiacs, and big burly Chevy Pick-ups. But the Lapin is not intended for that kind of performance. Anyway, isn't asking the automakers for bigger engines what's created the problem the auto industry is looking at now?

      My old Beetle maybe had around 50hp (in good tune). I had a Grand Am with maybe 100hp. Both cars were safe and reliable, and could be driven quite quickly when needed. The 0-60 times were abysmal, but in town they were just great!

      I like the Lapin's style. If Suzuki were to bring it over, I'd seriously consider buying one. Not every car on the market needs a giant engine.
        • 6 Years Ago
        actually it is a misconception that less horsepower always gets you better mileage. If your car is underpowered which this most definately is, then the driver tends to drive the car harder. Take a look at edmunds comparison test of the 95hp Cube vs the 168hp xB. The cube got worse mileage. only 22.7 mpg combined.
        http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/Comparos/articleId=124845
        This car with 65hp will not have enough power to be safe on the US highways and will not have enough power to keep the driver from driving it too hard. It will get better mileage with a more powerful engine. Just like the Cube does now that they upped the hp.
        • 6 Years Ago
        BoneHeadOtto:

        I'm not trying to be argumentative, just curious as my knowledge of car mechanics is admittedly limited, but I think my car breaks your logic a bit. I drive an '01 Suzuki Swift GL, 79 hp, approx. 1900 INCLUDING my weight, I drive it like a fiend on the freeways (1-40 acceleration is fine, 40-whatever else can take a while, but gunning it isn't impossible if the situation arises), but by my math I get almost 50 mpg.

        Which is awesome until I realize that if I want to get a new car that does all that... Do I even have any options? Anyways, like I said, I'm not trying to call you out or anything, just wondering if you had any idea why my car falls outside the 'underpowered -> harder driving -> less mpg' idea.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I get that. The Nissan Cube offers 122 horsepower in American style and will still get around 31 mpg or so. This one has 53-63 horsepower. I would like to live in a country where I could drive without hundreds of people driving F-250s on the Interstate at speeds approaching 70 mph, but I don't, and most Americans don't. I'd need something with at least enough passing power to be safe at freeway speeds.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You say you get it, then you bring out the old chesnut about needing to be able to pass people on the interstate. I usually cruise at 100-105% of the speed limit on the Interstate (bad speeder, bad!); maintaining momentum is more important than outright power.

        I'm telling you that there's alot more to driving than going faster than everybody else. As far as being scared of oversized trucks (like the Ford F250's), I suppose my habit of riding a bicycle on public streets has pretty much erased that fear. If I can avoid being crushed on a 3-speed, I'm pretty sure I can survive in a kei car.

        To reiterate: Some people need small efficient cars. Some people want big powerful cars. Stop confusing needs and wants.



      • 6 Years Ago
      @ Boneheadotto

      I'm not sure what you're trying to say. The article clearly states the mileage of the Lapin being almost 58mpg. That trounces the Cube (22.7mpg) and the Scion xB (24mpg). I'd like to point out that the Cube gets only 1mpg less, while being heavier and much less powerful.

      "...actually it is a misconception that less horsepower always gets you better mileage." Nobody here is saying that. I'm saying a light-weight car doesn't need a high hp engine. The Lapin weighs only 1874lbs, so it can be efficient with a low hp engine.

      This is not a car for drag races or trans-continental trips. This is a city car that would be great for those of us that live in crowded metro areas where parking and maneouverabliity are important. And almost three times the mpg (compared to the other Japanese boxes) strikes me as a very important consideration.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "This is not a car for drag races or trans-continental trips."

        NOBODY IS SAYING THE CAR IS BUILT FOR RACING.

        People here are saying this car would need more power from its four-cylinder engine if it were built in the United States because of highway speeds and the size of American vehicles, not that it needs a honking V8 engine. Again, Nissan is upping the power of the Cube from 95 horsepower to 122. In original trim, it only got 22 mpg because the Edmunds writers had to floor it to get any power.

        The original xB, with a very small 1.5 liter engine, got 28 mpg--worse than many compacts like the Honda Civic. That's because of a combination of not enough power with terrible aerodynamics.

        The new Cube, with 122 hp engine, is said to deliver 30+ MPG fuel economy, mostly because you won't have to floor it to deliver power.

        Letstakeawalk, I know about wanting cars and trucks with smaller engines, but there is also reality here. In compact trucks I've seen, as an example, the Toyota Tacoma has the second-largest four-cylinder engine in the industry, yet is the second-most fuel-efficient, narrowly behind the Ranger. The Chevy Colorado is behind that at 20 mpg overall, and it's got the largest engine in its class. The worst mileage from a four-cylinder is currently from the Nissan Frontier with automatic, at 19 mpg. It has the second-smallest four-banger in its class, at 2.5 liters, and delivers second-worst fuel economy.

        Why? Because the truck it motivates is too heavy for its tiny high-revving engine. You have to floor the damned thing to get it to move. It pretty much struggles over potholes. That's because Nissan didn't take the time or energy to make sure its engine was in line with the size of the vehicle.

        tl;dr: This car's engine wouldn't work in the U.S. because realistically owners would have to floor it to achieve anything remotely approaching highway speeds. Your VW Beetle came at a time when fewer cars were on the road. Today cars need more horsepower to avoid accidents, in what Consumer Reports calls "accident avoidance." As is all you'd do is anger drivers behind you and set yourself up for rear-end collisions and potential totaling of your vehicle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Luigiian, you completely misunderstand the purpose of this car. It is a city car, intended for driving in traffic at city speeds, sub 35 mph. Why would you need to floor it? In city driving you can't get to 30 faster than 15 seconds in most situations anyway, so 50hp is plenty of power for this size of car. So, a 20+ second 0 to 60 time is irrelevant for city driving. And even in the event you want to drive it on a highway, people can pass you, it's their prerogative. Clearly this car isn't for you, so please do us all a favor and refrain from commenting about it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        letstakeawalk said

        "I'm not sure what you're trying to say. The article clearly states the mileage of the Lapin being almost 58mpg. That trounces the Cube (22.7mpg) and the Scion xB (24mpg)."

        What im trying to say is that this cube in japan is rated at over 40mpg. It weighs 2400lbs which is 600+lbs less than the xB. Yet when it comes to real world driving in america, it only returns 22.7mpg. So the promise of this Suzuki is not realistic. It will achieve no where near the claimed mpg rating. Plus the cube vs xb test shows that mpg is not directly tied to hp and weight and too small of an engine can be detrimental to your mpgs.

        I understand your desire for a car that is just a city commuter but you cant tell me you will never take the car over 35mph or drive on teh highway. Doing so would be dangerous for everyone. What we really need in the cities are plugin hybrids. If you are indeed staying under 35mph then you should be able to drive entirely on electricity. Anyway im sure we will get a lot of these smaller cars on the road but i think they will ultimately be unsafe and underpowered and will not return the mpgs promised. Just look at the smart. Its mpgs are not that good considering the tiny engine and low weight. It only gets about 38mpg combined. A honda fit gets about 34-35mpg combined (nubers from users reports on fueleconomy.gov). So its not that beneficial considering the safety risk.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Pragmatic, I'll try to make this my last post, since I feel that five posts is way too many for a single car. The only reason I've commented so much on it is because I think it's cute, yet feel obliged to compare it to the Nissan Cube and other compacts that I like equally well.

        "Clearly this car isn't for you..."

        Who says? My commute has a top speed of 35 mph.

        Again, my issue with engine size has to do with fuel economy, and to a lesser extent safety (i.e. accident avoidance). I disbelieve 57 mpg except on the most crowded city streets and slowest conditions. Which is great for Japan, because those conditions are commonplace there. I'm glad to hear that they'll be able to get a car like that, but I wish I could see at least one or two on American streets, so I'm saddened to see that this is yet another kei car that is destined only for Japan, because American conditions won't allow for this little engine to suffice except in specific regions like San Francisco and New York.

        All right. I apologize for commenting so much. I suppose I should stick to my big gas-guzzler pickup trucks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good News... the Dacia Sandero.......
      • 6 Years Ago
      maybe nissan sold the old cube design?
      • 6 Years Ago
      refrigerator on wheels.....
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love it! Tiny, easy to access and sooooo very sensible for nipping about in. Doubtless reliable and cheap to run, and reliable, too. What's not to like? Bring it to Europe - now! Sorry American people: most of you could never understand anything like this...Manly? It's cute, and fun - manly indeed. Get a gun and shoot a moose...
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