Suzuki Lapin

What is the Suzuki Lapin?

Picture of a Suzuki Alto Lapin L kei car
By TTTNIS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Suzuki Lapin is a kei car available to import from Japan.  It is a 4 seater, 5 door hatchback and was introduced in 2002.

About the Suzuki Lapin

The full title is the Suzuki Alto Lapin, although I’m just calling it Suzuki Lapin in this post.  Suzuki have been making their Alto model on which this car is based since 1988.  The Lapin has a much more modern feel than the Alto and is definitely higher on the cuteness scale.  It weighs about 800kg.  You might also see a similar car with a Mazda badge.  A version of the Lapin (manufactured by Suzuki) was sold by Mazda: they called it the Spiano.

You may be aware that Suzuki sell the Alto in the UK, but the Lapin is a Japan only model.  The UK specification Suzuki Alto wouldn’t meet Japanese kei car standards as it has a 1000cc engine.  Despite this extra cubic capacity it still only manages 61 bhp.

Engine & Drivetrain

Picture of the rear of a Suzuki Lapin SS kei car
Rear of a Suzuki Lapin SS (by TTTNIS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
All models of the Suzuki Lapin have the same Suzuki K6A 660cc engine.  This is a 3 cylinder, 12 valve, double overhead cam unit with a timing chain rather than belt.  There are 3 different power outputs (54, 60 & 64 bhp) depending on which model you have.  The top 2 power outputs are achieved with the help of a turbo.  This addition of forced induction can only be a good thing in my book!

Four speed automatic and 5 speed manual transmissions are available, coupled to front or four wheel drive.  CVT was introduced in 2008.


The Suzuki Lapin is reasonably well equipped for such a small car.


  • Driver and passenger airbags.
  • Seatbelt pre-tensioners.
  • ABS.

Comfort & Practicality

Picture of the interior of a Suzuki Alto Lapin kei car
By TTTNIS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Climate control.
  • Central locking.
  • Power steering.
  • Front fog lights (higher spec models only).


Why you might want a Suzuki Lapin

  • A fine example of a kei car with bags of character, it has managed to lose some of the ‘box on wheels’ looks of many kei cars.
  • Low running costs.  Suzuki claim 56 mpg in the Japanese 10-15 modes fuel consumption test.

Why you might not want a Suzuki Lapin

  • You might not be happy with the size, safety or speed of kei cars.  Although this is a comment about the type of car in general rather than the Suzuki Lapin in particular.
  • If you want a kei car, I think there are other options that have more interior space and equipment.  Many kei cars have the ‘box on wheels’ look for a reason: it gives the most usable interior space within the kei car size constraints.

My choice of the Suzuki Lapin model range

Front picture of a Suzuki Lapin SS kei car
Front view of a Suzuki Lapin SS (by Kuha455405 (Own work (本人撮影)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons).
Without a doubt my choice would be the 64 bhp, manual transmission Suzuki Lapin SS.  Why?

  • It is rare to see a kei car with manual transmission.  I think this is essential for maximum enjoyment of a small turbocharged engine.
  • Extra trinkets like front fog lights, alloy wheels & leather steering wheel.
  • Styling – Suzuki have maintained much of the cuteness but added a much more sporty front end and feel to the car.

That brings us to the end of this information post about the Suzuki Lapin.  I’ll stop rabbiting on now.  Sorry, couldn’t resist!  That was an exceptionally poor joke.  At least I left it until the end.

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