Suzuki Solio

Suzuki Solio Review: “Looks like a kei car, but with astonishing parts” by Takahito Nakamura

This tall-type compact Suzuki model, the Solio, underwent a full model change making it the 4th generation model. Its completely changed platform and newly-designed engine makes it entirely new.

Nevertheless, is it just me who feels as if its appearance is similar to that of the Spacia Custom? Regardless, when I drew near the car, I discovered it was absolutely big. Even if you don’t think of it as a kei car, it may seem to look like so from afar if you don’t see its white number plate. That is because its design was based from a tall-type wagon car. From that, you can see how complicated it is to alter a popular model.

Nevertheless, while I looked for negative things about it, I found the opposite. Actually, this car is just amazing. First, because of its completely changed platform and engine, about 60% of its body became lighter. The remaining 40% of it are its suspension system and interior parts. Its whole body weight was 100kg less lighter than the existing models; the heaviest 4WD model weighs about 990kg to 1t, and the lightest weight is 930kg. Originally, tall-type of kei car models are heavy, and they differ from other cars’ weight by 1 ton. It’s simply amazing that this model actually weighs less than a ton. Even though its platform was newly developed, it basically has the same components with the newly introduced Alto; thus the secret to its lighter weight is similar to that of the Alto.

Then, its engine is a new K12C that is a direct 4 unit of the dual jet. The existing K12B engine is small, but they achieved the reduction of this K12C engine’s height by 31mm, its length by 12mm, and its width by 7mm. Its engine equipment angle was changed almost perpendicularly from 15 degrees to 5 degrees, thus its engine room was made more compact. Besides, this engine achieves a 12.5 high compression ratio.

This is the first time for Suzuki to adopt a mild hybrid system, which is actually the S-ene Charge system itself. Of course, compared with kei cars, this has an enlarged motor power. However, it is said that instead of the S-ene Charge, they will be using the term mild hybrid for the compact car products.

The ISG (integrated starter generator) restarts the engine, and its engine would stop with a speed of no more than 13km/h. You wouldn’t notice that the engine is put to a halt through the idling stop if you do not pay attention to it. I didn’t need to use the starter motor even if I restarted the engine to drive off. Therefore, the stopping and restarting of the engine was so smooth that I did not notice it. Despite its different system, it is more quiet and smooth compared to high class imported D-segment cars. I stopped the engine; as for the smoothness it outputs when I restarted the engine, it has great settings that made me think that nothing else can exceed it.

Even though it was made even lighter by 100kg, it precisely guarantees a tight body sense and a heavy running performance so even though it is a tall-type car, you can enjoy its stable running performance. The wind was strong on the test driving day, I frequently had to hold on the steering wheel when driving on a high speed, but its sense of security was very high. The only aftereffect of making it lighter was that it lacked careful consideration on quietness. Particularly, it doesn’t isolate the noise from the road surface so I can clearly hear the road noise. Because of that, I wasn’t able to mind the wind noise and the engine noise.

What I can’t personally tolerate is that it almost doesn’t have a caster action, and when I turned to a corner, I couldn’t take my hand away from the steering wheel because I had to assist it and then turn it back. Even though I somehow want to lower the friction and save fuel, I think it would also be great to adopt a self-steering function for this model as well. I’ve talked about this matter with the engineer and he said the manufacturer was also aware of it.

It’s somewhat weird to say this but the level of its equipment is similar to that of luxury cars. It would be perfect if this car was equipped with a Dual Camera Brake support and a navigation system that has a Multi-Around Monitor. The dual camera can detect a car or a pedestrian in front of this car when you’re driving at 5km/h to 100km/h speed and it would automatically halt when the situation calls for it. Through this, it can also activate the lane departure alarm, staggering alarm, and functions that would notify you when there is a car ahead of you. The navigator that has a multi-around monitor reflects the rear view and bird’s eye view on the monitor so it can assist you when you park the car.

Nevertheless, it has perfect equipment like the rolling sunshade and UV cut glass. Aside from that, the side of the driver’s seat has been equipped with a small pocket, and I think that it is very convenient that it has ample space for you to comfortably take your wallet out as you arrive in the parking lot. With these small, well-thought-out elements, it means they have focused on even the finest details about this car.

â–  5 Star Rating
Packaging: ★★★★★
Interior / Comfort: ★★★★★
Power Source: ★★★★
Footwork: ★★★
Recommendation: ★★★★

Takahito Nakamura AJAJ Member

Born in 1952. He loves cars that adorned the pages of car magazines, even at the young age of four. He started working part time at a Super Car shop. He also has experience being an apprentice mechanic for Nova Engineering. After that, he went to Germany to continue his pursuit of knowledge about cars. He entered the journalism industry in 1977, and has been a fixture in it for the last 36 years. He continues to be active as a freelance journalist.

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)