The Japanese domestic market is just full of endless surprises. The other day, I saw a Mazda I’d never heard of before (the Verisa). Afterwards, while crawling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, I came across this: the kei-class Suzuki Twin. You may think this is just another kei car but there are two very unique things about this. Firstly, look at it. It’s stupidly adorable (or adorably stupid). Secondly, it was the first Japanese kei-class hybrid.
Teehee, just look at this thing. It makes Noddy’s car look like a svelte sports car. It makes the Nissan Figaro looks conventional. It looks like an oversized child’s toy. The Twin was aimed at female buyers, which I understand. Even a man confident in his masculinity would probably give serious pause before driving one of these.
One company even did aftermarket smiling mouth bumpers for these. The big headlights are clearly the eyes of the Twin’s “face”, which may be pareidolia but makes more sense than that stupid Cars movie with the eyes on the windshield. Of course, what doesn’t make sense is buying a bumper with a big smiling mouth in it…
The Twin, appropriately, came with two different engine options: a naturally-aspirated 0.6 three-cylinder with 44 hp, or the hybrid which added a 7-hp electric motor. The hybrid also added an extra 220 pounds of weight to the featherweight Twin, which hit the scales at just 1300 pounds. The Twin was available with a five-speed manual transmission, unlike the Smart, but you could also select a four-speed automatic if you wanted to be completely miserable driving such a happy little car.
Compared to the Smart ForTwo, the Twin was 9 inches longer but 1.5 inches narrower. Like the Smart, it had two seats, however the passenger seat could be folded completely flat. Unlike the Smart, the Twin’s engine was at the front and power was delivered to the front wheels.
Suzuki planned to take the Twin to Europe, to battle the Smart on its own turf, but plans were scuppered. Even in Europe’s big cities, it’s hard to imagine the Twin doing well purely because of how it looks. You couldn’t park it in front of the store, or kids would be asking their parents for coins to put into it…
Tell me: are you sad Suzuki didn’t export this happy little car?