The Lapin, which was first introduced in the market in 2002, has favorably gathered significant support from young female customers. The third generation model, the all-new Lapin, was changed from the existing angular retro design into a round yet gentle style. Its interior’s finish and light running performance already surpasses that of a kei car’s.
The all-new Lapin was developed based on the Alto, but this new model also uses a newly developed platform from the Alto’s light weight and rigidity. Similar to the Alto, it inherited the Suzuki Green Technology systems such as the Ene-Change, that uses principle energy, and Idling Stop, as energy-saving measures. Its body is lighter than the existing model by 120kg so it has a great advantage in running performance.
I test drove the X model, the highest available grade. When I started driving the new Lapin, it certainly felt like it had a higher speed due to its lightness. As for its transmission, it is equipped with Suzuki’s specialty, a CVT with a sub-transmission. And its responsive speed as the engine rotation rises gives off a linear impression, and it felt good. There is no turbo engine version for the lineup of Lapin models, but I didn’t feel that it was necessary to have one either. I can see it obviously that its light body is effective.
Its light running performance also continues even in the highway. It comfortably responded to the movement of the accelerator pedal, and I didn’t feel any slow movement when it accelerated. Its stability when running is extremely high above all, and its strong balance towards crosswinds is also great. I’d particularly like to point out its quietness when driving on a highway. When a CVT-equipped car that has a small engine torque accelerates at a high speed, its engine sound gets louder. This does not happen in the Lapin. It also suppresses the wind noise so it is extremely quiet when you’re driving. With this, you would not feel a huge dissatisfaction when driving for long distances.
I was surprised about its interior’s finish. It has a wooden corner that resembles a living room table on the dashboard, and it also has a drawer-type glove box aside from its standard shape. Its base hue is a tender ivory color so it made me feel like I was just staying in the living room while I was inside the car. Its round meter summarizes the necessary information in one place so it is easy to see, and the thickness of the seats is just enough. You wouldn’t feel tired just by sitting in front. You can view the surroundings excellently while driving.
Because many female staff joined the development of the new Lapin, it is certainly full of tender consideration. Its square-shaped drink holder was also perfect to store drink cartons with, and its auto air conditioning was in “non-air” mode so it produced a fresh air environment inside the car. It adopts premium UV & IR cut glass for its front door glass and it blocks 99% of UV rays and infrared rays. Its door mirror blinker was designed with an image of sparkling jewelry so you can really say that it’s an idea made by female designers.
However, there were also parts equipped that I was not satisfied with. It is about its appropriateness for colder areas. From the point of view of developers, they have recognized the need for 4WD for most kei cars in cold places by now, so if you do not choose 4WD, this model cannot be outfitted with seat heaters, rear heater ducts, and heater mirrors. There are many areas in Japan, just like in the Northern Kanto Region, that have extremely cold temperatures even when the snow doesn’t fall in those places. I think these kinds of equipment should also be made available even for 2WD vehicles.
Moreover, it doesn’t have a telescopic steering wheel function so it’s somewhat lacking. This is for kei cars in general, and there are times when it would be difficult to reach the steering wheel while you step on the accelerator at the same time, and on the contrary, once you reach for the steering wheel, you would be forced to move forward to match it with the accelerator. Recently, there have been many people who have switched to compact cars, also referred to as the “downsizing class,” and this function is becoming standard in compact cars. We should focus on this function.
The equipment for safety collision avoidance systems became indespensable, and similarly with the Alto, it still has the Radar Brake Support. This model is not equipped with a Dual Camera Brake Support, which was equipped in the previously introduced new Spacia model. It’s a little disappointing that there is a relatively big difference in the functions of these two vehicles.
Nonetheless, its lightly rising speed and tight suspension have obviously surpassed the range of a usual kei car. Its light weight greatly contributes to the improvement of its fuel consumption as it can achieve 35.6km/: (X 2WD CVT).
The Lapin’s style made me feel its gentleness as a whole, but its performance is so much more than just for “women.” It’s a car that I also recommend to all the guys in the world.
â– 5 Star Rating
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Hajime Aida | AJAJ Member
Born in 1956 in Ibaraki Prefecture. Graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics in Meiji University. After graduating from the university, he became a member of an automotive journal and started working freelance in 1986. He expanded his writing profession particularly to car navigation and ITS fields, as well as writing reviews about new cars. He contributes write-ups with substantial advice about purchasing cars.
(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)