Best US bargain imports for 2022: Suzuki Cappuccino Turbo


Last week a Land Rover Defender Classic took top honors in our US Budget import battle. Rough, out-of-the-box SUVs are certainly handy, but what if you live in concrete canyons? Next year Americans will be able to import 1997 model year cars, so this week we figured the smaller the better. A quick search gives 35 copies for sale, so it’s really a buyer’s market.

The Suzuki Cappuccino debuted in 1991 to meet Japan’s revised Kei car laws. The new laws allowed manufacturers to offer a maximum of 63 horsepower from 660cc engines. The car must be shorter than 3.3m (10.8 ‘), and it cannot be wider than 1.4m (4.6’). Top speed is limited to 87 mph, although it would take you a minute to reach that speed.

At first glance, it seems rather boring. But this is not a coupe. Instead, the roof panels stow in the trunk while the rear window folds under the luggage cover. Under the hood, we can expect a tiny turbo-4 mounted east-west. You will be missing a cylinder, but the turbocharged K6A is capable of significant torque.

Yes, many of them were sold with a 3-speed automatic transmission which seriously hampered acceleration. This is why this jewel is made for you. A quick search on shows us that fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Depending on which bottleneck US port you choose, you could be driving a cappuccino for under $ 13,000.

Since you will have ample space in a 20ft container, we would use the remaining space with crates of Manga, Pachinko, and Minidiscs to satisfy American fascinations. The real treat is to get behind the wheel. In stock, they are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. This is because you have 4 wheel disc brakes, coil spring suspension and independent rear. To cut through every gram of unsprung weight, the control arms, shafts and stabilizer bars are super light. All this gives a curb weight of 1,598 pounds.

In order to keep the power below the government mandate, the stock injectors deliver only 225 cc. Because the car is factory cooled, a few minutes of work will give a reliable 120 horsepower. Suzuki states that the optimum speed for good mileage is 56 mph. It will offer 52.3 mpg in stock, and likely a bit more once the intake and turbo are optimized.

Sharing the same engine with the Suzuki Jimmy allowed the aftermarket to adopt this platform. In honor of our Tuning Month, here’s a fun storyline. Because these are just “old cars” in Japan, find another example that needs a little love. You could sell the other car when you arrive, but here’s a better idea.

Budget to replace or restore everything in your car and put the decent parts on the other. Not only will this save on costs, but it will convince the next owner that he is getting his money’s worth. At this point, owning two Kei cars can get addicting, so we suggest parting with one or both to stay in peace with the significant other.

The folks at Miata can’t have fun, so it’s time to invade their events with an even smaller, more maneuverable Japanese pocket rocket. Thanks to the small size of the car, it can be painted in your garage with decent results. A cold air intake can be made using parts from the hardware store, and a generic catalytic converter will be a hit with the police. Did we mention that it has variable valve timing? We are waiting for you to rectify a custom cam and leave the liter bikes in your rear view. For less than $ 20,000 you’ll get a cute and confident corner sculptor, so stay with us for more import info.

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