Category: ‘Kei Cars’

Insane 6-Wheel Kei Truck Acty Crawler At Auction In Japan

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

OK, so it may not have the street presence of an Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6X6, but you have to admire the engineering that has gone into making this Acty Crawler.

Despite what you may think, this is not some crazy custom job, but was engineered by Honda and introduced in 1994. They are also designed to have tracks on the rear wheels, hence the “crawler” part of the name.

Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (1)

Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (2)

Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (3)

Original listing


Retro Sambar/ VW Bus Lookalike At Auction in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Mitsuoka tries to do retro, but never seems to pull it off. The Nissan Figaro, now that is true retro. But what about this — a Suzuki Sambar kei van converted to look like an old VW bus? Personally, I think these are incredibly cute and look even better in the metal.

Watch the video to see more detail of this particular one we found at auction here in Japan.

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - auction sheet

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - front

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - interior

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - rear


New Honda S2000 or CR-Z to Sit Between S660 & NSX

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 1st, 2015

Pikes Peak Honda CR-Z

Honda has been perhaps the most exciting Japanese automaker to follow in 2015. First it was the news of the S1000, a ‘hot’ version of the turbocharged S660 roadster kei car that’s currently available in Japan. Then it was the new Civic Type-R. Then it was the Acura NSX Concept which previewed a new hybrid supercar that’s likely to make its production debut at the beginning of next year.

Now, according to Motoring, we’ve learned that Honda plans to introduce not one, but possibly TWO more sports cars in the near future. The first will be a successor to the S2000 that got axed back in ’09. The second will be a performance-tuned CR-Z. Both cars could sit between the S660 / S1000 and the NSX as mid-level sports cars. They’ll be bigger and faster than the kei car roadster, but much more attainable than the six-figure supercar.

Let’s start with the S2000. According to the report, the new S2000 would feature a mid-engine hybrid layout that’s similar to the one showcased in the NSX. Motoring’s Honda informant says that their engineers “are currently evaluating a detuned version of the Civic Type-R’s 2.0L turbo.” He went on to say that a more efficient 1.5L turbo is on the table, and that he believes that such a car could output a minimum of 300hp with a price tag somewhere in the mid $60k. This would put the car in prime position to take on the likes of the Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLK, BMW Z4 and even Nissan’s Fairlady Z.

As for the CR-Z, details are even sparser. Motoring’s insider offered barely two sentences about the possibility of the compact coupe’s return: “We still need to evaluate exactly where a new CR-Z would fit into our sports car hierarchy … We are looking at the potential of electric 4WD [like] the Pikes Peak CR-Z.” However, he went on to say that, “The powers that be in our R&D section are leaning strongly towards channeling development funds away from the CR-Z and into an S2000 successor.”

Either way, the good news is that another sports car is definitely on the table for Honda. We just don’t know exactly which one it’ll be. And, we should make it clear that neither car is anywhere close to production. Honda’s first priority is boosting sales of their high-volume models in two primary markets – the US and China. They believe that a focus on those markets is the key to higher profits, which would then allow them to devote research and development into lower-volume models like a new CR-Z coupe or S2000 roadster.


Japanese Car Auction Find – 1992 Suzuki Cappuccino

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Earlier this week, we got really excited about the new Honda S660 Kei car that’s making its debut in Japan even as we speak. The Kei sports car is a rare thing with barely a handful on the market today. That spurt of reminiscing got us thinking about some of our old favorites from years past. Behold today’s Japanese car auction find – a 1992 Suzuki Cappuccino:

1992 Suzuki Cappuccino

This classic Japanese roadster is an extremely agile piece of machinery, weighing in at barely 725 kg, or 1,598 pounds. There were only about 28,000 Suzuki Cappuccinos ever produced during its single-generation existence from 1991 to 1997, and there are only two of those models currently up for auction in Japan (at the time of this writing). This one is from 1992, so only the second year of production.

Since the Suzuki Cappuccino was made to fit Japan’s strict key car regulations, the powertrain is very small – a three-cylinder 660cc engine that outputs 63 horsepower. Doesn’t sound very much, does it? But, because of the roadster’s extremely light curb weight, it can still pull off a 0 to 60 mph time of just 8 seconds.

1992 Suzuki Cappuccino rear

The Suzuki Cappuccino has earned cult status for a couple key features that distinguish it from many other roadsters of the time.

First, it has an extremely impressive rev range. Peak power output doesn’t come until 6,400 rpm, and the car redlines at 8,500 rpm. Suzuki did an extremely impressive job of delivering sports car performance in such a small, low-power roadster. It has powerful brakes and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution when both seats are occupied. It’s known to have extremely responsive steering and that 660cc engine is paired to a smooth-as-butter five-speed transmission.

1992 Suzuki Cappuccino interior

The other really cool feature in the Suzuki cappuccino is its customizable three-part roof. It doesn’t have the fancy automatic retraction of today’s convertibles, but it makes up for it by offering four modes of configuration. You can have a hardtop coupe with all panels in place, a T-top by removing the two side panels, a targa top by removing the middle bar, or a full open-top cabriolet by removing the roll bar and rear window.

This 1992 Suzuki cappuccino is particularly well-kept. Only a few minor dings mar the car’s exterior, and the odometer has a mere 13,020 km on it. If you’d like to learn more, keep reading below for a full translation of the auction sheet:

1992 Suzuki Cappuccino auction sheet

“Grade 4, interior B, first registered 1992 (month not stated), 5-speed manual gearbox, power windows, one owner, 13020KM, black seats, AM steering wheel, original 14 inch alloy wheels, service book, fuel pump replaced, possibly has artifical leather seats, steering wheel worn, seats worn, paint marks and rust underneath vehicle, scratches and dents, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map”


Honda S660 Concept Edition Commemorates JDM Launch

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

2015 Honda S660

Honda has been on a sporty spree throughout 2015. Following in the footsteps of the new NSX and the Honda Civic Type R, their latest addition to the lineup is the Honda S660 roadster. After a full two years of buildup, Honda is finally ready to release the production version of their new two-seat roadster in Japan. To commemorate the car’s release, they’ve revealed a limited edition Honda S660 Concept Edition, pictured below:

2015 Honda S660 Concept Edition

2015 Honda S660 Concept Edition

The S660 officially launches later this week on April 2. As the name implies, this is a 660cc mid-engine roadster, and one of the smallest roadsters currently in production by any automaker anywhere. The turbocharged 660cc engine has three cylinders and outputs a meager-sounding 63 horsepower and 104 Nm of torque.

Meanwhile, power is sent to the rear wheels only with a six-speed manual transmission (the first-ever kei car to offer such a transmission) or a seven-speed CVT. If you opt for the automatic, you’ll get paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel with available Sports Mode driving – definitely a worthy upgrade.

2015 Honda S660 interior

Although the numbers sound low, remember that this is technically classified as a kei car in Japan. That means that there are legal limitations to the power the vehicle can output in order to offer its drivers the financial benefits that come with driving such an efficient car. And, ever since the S660 Prototype made its debut all the way back in 2013, Honda has put special care into achieving a low center of gravity and perfect 45:55 weight distribution for “excellent cornering”.

The other new feature that Honda has incorporated into the S660 is their Agile Handling Assist electronic control system. Basically, this system monitors the movement of the roadster’s body throughout turns and alters brake torque in accordance with optimized performance.

S660 Concept Edition plaque

Fittingly, Honda plans to sell 660 units of the Honda S660 Concept Edition roadster. The special edition models get a Premium Star White Pearl paint job, contrasting leather-wrapped seats with red stitching, and of course the obvious Bordeaux red top instead of the normal black one. The Concept Edition is meant to showcase how little the Honda S660 has changed since the original concept back in 2013. Apparently they’ve been very deliberate about keeping the concept’s same look and feel intact for the production roadster.

Unfortunately, the Honda S660 is currently earmarked for Japan-only production. However, rumor has it that Honda will manufacture a more powerful international model with either a 1.0L or 2.0L turbocharged engine, fittingly named the Honda S1000 or S2000. Who knows, maybe we will see a preview for the model in New York? We’re not counting on it, but it would sure be a nice surprise.


Suzuki iK-2 and iM-4 Teased Ahead of Geneva Debut

Posted by Stephen On Monday, February 9th, 2015

Suzuki has just unveiled two darkened teasers for a couple of new concepts that will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show next month. We’re happy to hear that Suzuki is still expanding despite departure from the US market, and these two offerings look particularly well-suited for the European market where they will first be unveiled.

As you continue reading, we’ll quickly divulge what we know about each new concept, along with the teasers themselves.

Suzuki iK-2 Concept

Suzuki iK-2 Concept Teaser

According to Suzuki’s press release, “The iK-2 is an ideal compact sized car, developed with an innovative theme of ‘Harmonised Force’. By combining all of the key elements expected in a car of this size the new model raises compact car values to the limits.”

Frankly, this doesn’t tell us much, except that the car we see in these images is indeed a compact car, either a crossover or a hatch. Some sources guess that this will eventually become the next-generation Suzuki Swift, but we’re not convinced. Instead, our guess is that this teaser heralds a brand-new B-segment model that will sit between the Swift and the SX4 or the new Vitara SUV.

Suzuki iM-4 Concept

Suzuki iM-4 Concept Teaser

The Suzuki iM-4 Concept is a much more straightforward teaser. We’ve suspected for a while that Suzuki would be updating the Jimney with a new generation sometime in the next couple years, and this car’s profile is an exact match for what we’d expect that model to look like.

Plus, the press release is much more forthcoming for this concept. “The iM-4 is an iconic mini 4×4 developed with a concept theme of ‘Shape the Inspiration’. It’s an all-new proposal from Suzuki, packed with its compact 4×4 DNA and new technologies as well as distinctive styling that will give real inspiration to drivers.”

Notice that word “iconic”? What’s more iconic than the third-generation Suzuki Jimny mini SUV, which has been on the market since 1998? It’s long overdue for an update, and we’re almost certain that the iM-4 Concept will herald their kei car’s replacement.


Is the Mitsubishi Montero Coming to the Chicago Auto Show?

Posted by Stephen On Monday, January 26th, 2015

The 2015 Chicago Auto Show previews are officially coming in now, folks. After the teaser for a facelifted Honda Pilot, Mitsubishi has given us a teaser for a new SUV of their own. From the look of it, it’s larger than either of their current Outlander crossovers, and the Japanese automaker lauds it as “the return of a legend.”

Mitsubishi Return of a Legend Teaser

What could it be?

A revived US-spec Mitsubishi Montero, which was axed from the Mitsubishi’s US lineup in 2005 in order for them to focus marketing their smaller crossover offers. However, the Montero continues to be sold in other markets as the Pajero. Even in other markets, though, the now-fourth-generation Pajero just hasn’t had much traction in the past few years. Mitsubishi aims to change that with the next-generation model, which they previously told us to expect in 2018.

So, if the new Montero isn’t coming until 2018, what are we going to see at Chicago?

2013 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept premiere

2013 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept premiere

If you have a particularly long memory, you may remember Mitsubishi’s GC-PHEV Concept hybrid all the way back from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. A little more than one year later, we believe they’re bringing the next iteration of that concept to the US. Chances are it will be a lot more realistic, if not fully production ready.

Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

Another version of the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

That being said, Mitsubishi hasn’t strictly specified that this new debut is anything but a carbon copy of the Tokyo model from 2013. It’s perfectly possible that we’ll just get a recolored model, or maybe a GC-PHEV Sport Concept or something like that. We just don’t know right now.

What we do know is that Mitsubishi will definitely offer a plug-in Montero/Pajero at some point, and that it will definitely be available in the US.

Current Mitsubishi Pajero

Current Mitsubishi Pajero

The best case scenario – the one we’re secretly crossing our fingers for – would be that Mitsubishi gives us a production-ready 2016 Mitsubishi Montero that’s also the next-generation model. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know for sure until the second week in February when ‘the legend’ returns!

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2010 Pajero Mini

2010 Pajero Mini

This is a really cool follow-up auction find to today’s Chicago Auto Show teaser. It’s a 2010 Pajero Mini in surprisingly good shape.

The Pajero Mini was released in 1994 as a way for Mitsubishi to enter the Japanese Kei car segment using the popular Pajero name. However, the mechanics of the two cars are totally unrelated. The Pajero Mini was actually built on the platform of the Mitsubishi Minica until the Minica was axed in 2011. The Pajero Mini ceased production the following year.

2010 Pajero Mini auction find

Even though it’s no longer manufactured, the mini-SUV actually had a very successful run. In fact, in 2008 Nissan paid the smaller automaker to produce an OEM version that they went on to sell as the Nissan Kix.

2010 Pajero Mini interior

Today’s auction find is a 2010 model, so it would have been one of the final versions of the car. All in all, it’s a fairly basic compact SUV, but a reliable one. The turbocharged 660cc four-cylinder isn’t too shabby too drive either. Get more details below this car’s auction sheet:

2010 Pajero Mini auction sheet

“Grade 4.5, interior B, exterior condition B, first registered January 2010, Pajero Mini model, aftermarket stereo, AC, FAT, power steering, power windows, original AWs, airbag, first time in auction, stone chips in front windscreen, interior grime, marks as per map”


Suzuki Alto Lives on in JDM as a Kei Car

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

It turns out we were wrong about the Suzuki Alto. We thought that the new Suzuki Celerio we saw earlier this month would replace the Alto (along with the Splash) in all of Suzuki’s current markets. However, it turns out that the Alto will live on in both India and Japan, albeit as two completely different cars. The facelifted Alto you’ll learn about below has just gone on sale in Japan.

2016 JDM Suzuki Alto Kei Car

2015 Suzuki Alto Kei Car in

Suzuki will continue selling the Alto as a kei car in the Japanese Domestic Market. However, it won’t look anything like the Alto that most of us are used to seeing. The image above shows us a fairly simple design with a few retro flairs to draw in the hipsters. The boxy body and the grille in particular have give it a very “retro” look – the grille is asymmetrical with absolutely no chrome or metallic accents… Something you won’t find in very many cars today.

That retro design theme continues into the cabin with flat, simple seats and a minimalist center console. You’ll find cool features like a center-mounted gear lever, and a mixture of analog and digital read-outs on the dash. Otherwise, the color-scheme is fairly plain – neutral tones all over, with the most exciting color being the beige on the A/C vents and center dash.

2015 Suzuki Alto kei car interior

Under the hood, you’ll find a microscopic 660cc three-cylinder engine that runs on gas and outputs a conservative 54bhp – just enough to navigate the tight city streets of Japan. Don’t expect to haul any concrete or lumber though; the car only outputs 63Nm of torque at optimal rev-ranges. Of course, this small engine is what allows the JDM Alto to give its drivers the financial benefits of owning a kei car, which is well-rewarded in Japan.

2015 Suzuki Alto JDM interior

Even though we don’t have images of it at this time, Suzuki has also stated that there will be a slightly sportier version of the JDM Alto coming later next year. It’ll be called the Alto Turbo RS, and it’ll get a two-tone color-scheme on the outisde, a bit more vibrancy on the inside, and unspecified modifications to the powertrain. It’ll be tough to make any really significant performance improvements if Suzuki wants to keep the Turbo RS version in the kei car category, but we’ll just have to wait and see what they can do. Until then…

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Suzuki Lapin

2014 Suzuki Alto auction find

You can clearly where the new JDM Alto gets its looks from – the older Japanese models, like this Lapin, also have a very boxy look about them, unlike the curvier variants on sale in other parts of the world.

2014 Suzuki Alto interior

The 2014 model Lapin is still a kei car, so it has the same small 660cc engine and minimalist feature set. However, this Japanese car auction find is in very good condition, and if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient car that does exactly what you need it to for comfortable and convenient city driving, this is the car for you. Get a more specific translation below the auction sheet:

2014 Suzuki Alto auction sheet

“Grade 6, interior A, exterior condition A, first registered July 2014, AT, AC, keyless entry, push button starter, CD player, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, minor scratches, odometer reading 4KM, marks as per map”


All-New Suzuki Celerio Revealed Ahead of Geneva Motor Show

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

2015 Suzuki Celerio

It was just over a year ago that we saw the Suzuki A:Wind concept (pictured below) at the 2013 Thailand Auto Show. It was a bold little hatchback that we predicted would herald the next-generation Suzuki Alto. Today Suzuki has revealed the all-new Celerio city car (pictured above) ahead of its premiere at next year’s Geneva Motor Show.

As it turns out, we were mostly right about the A:Wind – it will, in fact, replace the Alto. However, it’ll also replace the Suzuki Splash, effectively killing two birds with one stone.

2013 Suzuki A-Wind Concept

Even though the new Celerio is notably larger than the outgoing Alto, it remains an A-segment mini in both form and function (and it’ll still be a kei car in Japan). It should also be made clear up front that this is intended to be a very entry-level vehicle; when it goes on sale next year, the mini-hatch will start at just £7,999 for the basic SZ3 trim, which is about $12,500 USD. The only other SZ4 trim is just £1,000 more for £8,999.

At the basic SZ3 trim, you’ll get air conditioning, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, remote power locking, a DAB Radio with CD player, and Suzuki’s trademark Electronic Stability Program, which helps the Celerio stabilize during intensive cornering.

Moving up to the SZ4 trim will get you polished alloys, fog lamps up front, a more stylish chrome front grille with colored door mirrors, and rear passengers will now enjoy electric windows.

Both trims of the new Suzuki Celerio will come with the same powertrain that currently occupies some versions of the Suzuki Alto. It’s a basic 1.0L three-cylinder engine paired up with Suzuki’s automated manual transmission. The engine output is a conservative 67hp, but the low power yields an incredible fuel economy of 65.7 mpg using the UK combined cycle.

Ultimately, the Suzuki Celerio is not intended to be the flashiest or fastest car in its segment. It’s a budget car built on superior bang-for-your-buck value, and that’s who it’s intended to sell to. Don’t compare it to higher-end cars in the segment from Audi or VW; that’s not the competition. Instead, this is a car to compete with budget cars like the Dacia Sandero and Chevy Volt. It’s perfect for drivers who prioritize reliability, fuel economy and cabin space while sticking to a budget.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Suzuki Alto F

Since we now know that this is the last year you’ll be able to buy a new Suzuki Alto F, we figured today would be a good day to showcase one of the 2014 model years we found up for auction through our Integrity Exports database. This is a 2014 Suzuki Alto F in superb condition:

2014 Suzuki Alto F

This model runs on a smaller 0.66L engine than the 1.0L unit in the new Suzuki Celerio, but it has a smaller body to compensate with a curb-weight of just 710kg. You’ll get 53 bhp with a five-speed manual transmission. Again, it’s a fairly basic model with great all-around economy and decent cabin space. This particular auction find is in truly spectacular shape, as you’ll learn in the auction sheet translation below:

2014 Suzuki Alto F auction sheet
“Grade5, interior B, exterior B, first registered February 2014, F model, DBA emissions code, CD, FAT, AC, airbag, power steering, power windows, minor interior grime, seats have minor stains, marks as per map.”

2015 Daihatsu Mira Cocoa PlusX Trim Revealed

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Toyota’s budget brand, Daihatsu, has a new quirky treat for young and hip Japanese drivers. Once you take a look, though, it’ll be easy to see why this car will remain a JDM-only model. It’s too small, too underpowered and frankly too Japanese to be as well-received anywhere else.

This is the newly released 2015 Daihatsu Mira Cocoa PlusX trim, revealed just in time for the next model year. You’ll find it pictured here in a sweet cotton candy pink:

2014 Daihatsu MiraCocoa PlusX

If you don’t live in Japan, this teeny-tiny pink city car probably seems a little too gimmicky to be taken seriously. However, its small size and incredible efficiency put it perfectly into Japan’s strictly regulated kei car class of vehicles, which offer drivers tax and insurance advantages over larger cars. To classify as a kei car, this cotton candy supermini runs on a mere 52hp and 44 lb-ft (60 Nm) of torque coming from a pocket-sized 660cc three-cylinder petrol engine.

Of course, if pink isn’t your style, Daihatsu offers 15 exterior color choices ranging from the cotton candy pink pictured above, to manlier shades of blue or green, and even some plain earthtones like beige and ivory for the more conservative kei car drivers. Unsurprisingly, Daihatsu has noted that its elegantly simple design and ease-of-handling have made it a favorite among female drivers.

What is surprising, though, is that the interior offers even more customization options than the exterior with Daihatsu’s special “My Room Feeling” cabin. This basically allows you to choose from a variety of seating, dashboard and seatbelt trims/designs to ensure that your Mira Cocoa PlusX is truly your car. All told, between the outside and inside you’ve got over 160 color and feature combinations to choose from, and that’s not even counting the catalog full of matching accessories that Daihatsu makes available with each model.

2013 Toyota MeWe Concept

While Toyota has no official plans to bring any vehicle even remotely similar to the Daihatsu Mira Cocoa to NA or EU shores, they have at least shown an interest in testing the market. Remember the Toyota Me.We Concept from 2013 (pictured above)? Looks pretty close to the Mira Cocoa, doesn’t it? It even has similar bench-style seating! But this could all just be a random coincidence; we’re the only ones drawing the connection.

Either way, if you’d like to pine over the new MiraCocoa PlusX a bit more, you can get a comprehensive look at the kei car through the video below: