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
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).
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.