Suzuki’s famous multiplayer, its name is “Kei”!
The method of using the platform of a basic model to create derivative models in various categories has been common for a long time because it allows us to increase the model lineup while keeping development costs down. !” There is also a multiplayer.
In 1998, when kei cars shifted to the current new standard, the mini passenger car “kei” released by Suzuki was one such car. , and became the successor to the Alto Works, and was active in a variety of scenes.
From the beginning, “it does not fit in a mere light SUV” ant
In October 1998, when the collision safety standards for minicars were required to be on par with registered vehicles, the bodies became larger and shifted to the current new standards. The passenger car was “Kei”.
At that time, mini-vehicle manufacturers saw the change in standards as an opportunity to ask users about new values, and launched innovative new models one after another. The light SUV was the focus of attention as a candidate for a hit after the tall wagon.
Honda Z, Daihatsu Naked, and a little later Mitsubishi’s eK Active were light SUVs that didn’t become hits at the time and didn’t sell well until the first Hustler (2014), but only kei changed hands and changed products. And it will be a long-selling product for over 10 years.
The secret is that it basically only has a drive system up to about 4WD for everyday use in FF mini passenger cars, and the rough road running performance that can be divided only by the minimum ground clearance that is secured to some extent. The total height was kept within 1,550 mm, which fits in tower parking etc.
At that time, FF vehicle-based city off-roaders such as Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, and the current “crossover SUV” had already appeared, but the car that could secure both minimum ground clearance and low overall height was unexpected. It wasn’t there.
In 1998, the Kei was already equipped with elements later sold by the likes of the Nissan Juke and now the Mazda CX-30, making it a fairly advanced crossover SUV.
A hot model with hot running that goes beyond the boundaries of SUVs
Kei has hot models that make use of futuristic designs, such as the early “Kei Special” (May 1999), and in October 2000, Alto Works (discontinued in December 2000). Released the successor to the above, “Kei Sports”.
In April 2001, the racing base car “Kei Sports R” was released, and from the same year, a numbered one-make race “Kei Sports Cup” was held, not only a light crossover SUV but also a hot hatch. It was also sold extensively as a light sports car.
During this period, Suzuki was on the sports route, such as the “Formula Hayabusa”, a full-fledged formula machine equipped with a superbike Hayabusa engine, and the “Formula Kei”, a mini formula with Kei’s turbo engine and reminiscent of the former FL550. It’s about time
In November 2002, it was renamed “Kei Works” with 4-wheel disc brakes and Recaro seats, becoming the successor to Alto Works in both name and reality. Altrapan SS” also appeared, and it was an interesting era for Suzuki users.
Kei Sports Cup, a one-make race with a regrettable end
By the way, the “Kei Sports Cup” was an introductory category, a gateway to success for racing beginners and a venue for demonstrations by tuning shops. I was.
According to the recall filed to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on June 18, 2018, “Because the strength of the front hub is insufficient to withstand the excessive load caused by circuit driving, etc., repeated circuit driving may damage the hub. There is.”
The improvement measure is to remove the circuit running equipment (roll cage, 4-point seat belt, tow hook) from all vehicles and replace the steering knuckle assembly with a new one. They recognized that the R was a car that could not withstand circuit driving.
In light endurance races, the front hub dropped off and retired from the race, but it seems that racing cars with official numbers weren’t allowed to run on public roads, even if they were purely racing cars. Including the fact that it ended, it was quite controversial at the time.
At the end of the season, go to the “last hot hatch operated by MT”
After that, Kei as a hot hatch for the street was still alive, and after the sales of the Daihatsu Miraavi RS (discontinued in December 2006), until the Alto Works revived in December 2015, “the fun of manipulating with turbo + MT remained. , will be the last light hot hatch.
It also has the same engine as the 1,307,250 yen “Kei Works”, and although it is slightly inferior in terms of equipment such as rear wheel drum brakes, the 957,600 yen “Kei B Turbo” is also left, so you want to enjoy driving cheaply. Or it was the last bastion for users who wanted a purely tuning base car.
Such Kei will also be discontinued in October 2009 without a successor model, but it is another matter that the chairman and president (at that time) Osamu Suzuki regrets the absence of a light SUV, and it leads to the first “Hustler”. It’s a story.
* The author information of the images used in this article is as of the publication date.