Suzuki Hatch

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Suzuki Hatch

1977 - 1984
United Kingdom
3 cyl.
19.2 kW
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
120 km/h
Number Built:
The original Suzuki Hatchback was marketed as a commercial vehicle; the reason was simple, at the time the government was enforcing a strict quota on imports, however “Commercial” vehicles were not subject to the quota.

Besides, referring to is as a commercial vehicle also helped explain the little Suzuki’s lack of creature comforts and utilitarian nature.

The Suzuki Hatch was far from being a beauty to behold, with styling rather like the Honda Scamp, however it was powered by the diminutive 543cc three-cylinder engine making it the perfect 2nd car or city run-about for those that sought good fuel economy.

Using a paltry 4.4 liters per 100 kilometres, the Suzuki Hatch was a frugal as it was cheap to buy – and many saw that as a good thing. In fact, it became so popular that in many markets throughout the world demand exceeded supply, even in its home market of Japan.

But it was always a car that required compromise; to ensure compliance with its commercial vehicle status there were only two seats fitted, and there were no side in the rear (although they were optional).

The single overhead cam engine proved ideal for city traffic, but did require a degree of aggression to ensure you got the most out of it, while the rubbery four speed manual transmission was a less than friendly device.

Working the engine hard, in combination with prudent use of the gears would ensure the little Suzuki was not a traffic hazard to other motorists.

From a handling point of view, it never handled or rode as well as a car, perhaps due to the use of commercial light truck cross-ply tires – thankfully radials were also an option. Like most other front wheel drive cars, the Hatch suffered typical understeer, and simply did not have enough power to provoke it any other way.

The front strut and rear leaf spring suspension offered a decent ride, but the handling was never anything to write home about. The rear “hatch” or “cargo” door opened nice and wide, providing a sizeable cargo area given the length of the car.

As you would have expected on a commercial vehicle, the floor was covered with vinyl, as were the seats, but thankfully the addition of an AM radio allowed you to listed to the latest top 40, provided the reception was good. The Suzuki Hatch made a great city runabout or delivery vehicle, but its main feature was the price. Those seeking a half decent ride inevitably looked elsewhere.

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