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Tokyo show: Suzuki goes big on small ideas

Bantamweight champ: The petrol-powered Suzuki Regina concept weights a meagre 730kg and manages a claimed fuel economy of 3.1 litres per 100km.

Suzuki goes weight watching with Regina hatch as it looks to next-gen small car

10 Nov 2011

A FEATHERWEIGHT hatchback with a frugal 3.1 litre per 100km fuel economy and a range extender hybrid version of the current Swift small car will be among concepts wheeled out by Suzuki at the 2011 Tokyo motor show late this month.

The Japanese small car specialist will also show a more fanciful two-seat micro bubble car that it describes as a cross between a motorcycle and a car, similar to Renault’s Twizy.

More likely for production is the Suzuki Regina, which the company describes as its vision for a next-generation compact car.

Although no dimensions have been disclosed, the snub-nosed petrol-powered three-door hatch appears to be the size of a small car, but is as light as a mini car, weighing in at just 730kg.

Suzuki said it was engineered with a clear focus on minimising weight, while also reducing aerodynamic drag.

It says the design – featuring a blunt nose reminiscent of a 1960s Fiat 850 coupe and partly shrouded rear wheel arches – makes the Regina at least 10 per cent more efficient through the air than current models.

Suzuki quotes a Japanese test cycle figure of 32km per litre – about 3.1 litres per 100km – from the car, bettering the benchmark Toyota Prius hybrid’s 3.9L/100km.

Unlike the petrol-electric Prius, the Regina concept runs on petrol alone, although no engine specifications have yet been released.

30 center imageLeft: Suzuki Regina interior. Below: Suzuki Swift plug-in and Q-concept.

Another car that might well go into production at some point is the five-door Swift EV Hybrid, Suzuki’s take on range-extender cars such as GM’s Volt.

The car is the latest in a long line of electrified Suzuki concepts shown at the Tokyo motor show down the years, but this one might finally be edging towards production.

If it does, Suzuki Australia will have its hand up, with communications manager Andrew Ellis telling GoAuto today: “We would definitely look at it. We are interested in any electric vehicle or hybrid that might be going into production.”

With Suzuki’s technical association with European giant Volkswagen on the rocks, Suzuki is expected to press ahead with its own powertrain program for the EV Hybrid, which it says will be called the Swift Range Extender at motor shows in some other countries.

Like other hybrids springing from rival manufacturers, the latest Suzuki concept can be driven in electric mode for commuting distances – between 20km and 30km in the case of the Swift – before the petrol engine kicks in to generate more power for the battery to extend the range.

Details of the powertrain have not been disclosed, but Suzuki’s comments indicate that it prefers the flexibility of the hybrid format to a pure electric car, saying: Compared with an electric vehicle that depends entirely on battery power, the Swift EV Hybrid has a smaller battery that’s quicker to charge, weighs less, uses fewer resources and costs less.”

The Swift hybrid might end up paving the way for the introduction of the Swift range in the United States, where the company inexplicably has not introduced the model that is Suzuki’s most popular car elsewhere, accounting for more than half of all sales in Australia.

A five-door version of the Swift Sport – the new performance flagship of the Swift range – will also be shown in Tokyo, following on from the unveiling of the three-door version at the Frankfurt show in September (see separate story).

Also to appear at Tokyo will be the Suzuki Q-concept city runabout that Suzuki calls an entirely new kind of mobility.

Suzuki’s press release does not disclose the powertrain details for the little commuter, saying only it would be ideal for journeys up to 10km, such as commuting, shopping or running children to school.

“The Q-concept is more practical than a car, as it is more manoeuvrable and takes up less parking space,” the Suzuki press release sys.

“At the same time, a cabin makes it a more attractive, more comfortable option than a motorcycle.”

Suzuki says the 2.5-letre-long concept has tandem seats, but could come in other configurations, such as one forward seat for the driver and a two-person seat for children at the rear, or a single driver’s seat and the remaining space devoted to cargo.

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