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2015 Suzuki Alto Lapin is a Kei Car-sized Renault 4

Remember the nostalgic reinterpretation of the Renault 4 by David Obendorfer? For some reason, the automaker didn’t want to revive the model or employ the concept’s styling cues despite good reception from the public. But Suzuki has the next best thing to a modern Renault 4 in the guise of the 2015 Suzuki Alto Lapin, a bigger variant of the Japan-spec 2015 Suzuki Alto kei car. Neat, isn’t it?
2015 Suzuki Alto Lapin (Japan-spec) 31 photos
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Just like the Renault Quatrelle from 1961, the Alto Lapin is boxier than Fed Ex packaging yet the overall shape is giving the impression of roundness. The round-shaped headlights, oval side mirror caps, soft edges of the front grille and subtle curvatures in the body shell are to thank for this visual effect. What’s the deal will those bunnies saying hello, happy birthday and see you in the instrument cluster’s display?

Well, Lapin is French for rabbit, so guess what’s what. It may be a kei car bound to remain on Japanese soil for its entire life, but even the color of the pictured vehicle is inspired by French culture. Dubbed French Mint Pearl Metallic, this hue combined with the white roof take the concept of urban chic to a level Renault can only dream of in this day and age. Wonder what’s the sticker price of such a cheerful-looking machine? Starting at 1,077,840 yen for the 2WD model with a 5AGS automated manual, the range-topping Suzuki Alto Lapin X 4WD CVT costs 1,492,560 yen (or $12,005 or €10,630 at current rates).

Be it two or all-wheel drive, most Lapin models can be enhanced with a CVT transmission, tilt steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment with sat nav, rear parking camera, and an active safety system stops the car to a halt at speeds up to 30 km/h (18 mph) if a radar in the rearview mirror detects an imminent crash. Being a kei car, only four people fit inside the 3,395 mm long and 1,475 mm wide Suzuki Alto Lapin. Weight is up to 730 kg (1,609 lbs) for the range-topping all-wheel drive model.

On the powertrain front, a 658 cc three-cylinder engine with 52 PS and 63 Nm (46 lb-ft) of torque is there to animate the 155/65 14-inch wheels. 2WD models claim a JC08 fuel economy rating of 35.6 km/l, which is 2.8 liters per 100 kilometers, 84 US mpg or 100.8 UK mpg. More power than the Renault 4, modern touches and gizmos, a cutesy name and cheap to tax - what’s not to like about the Suzuki Alto Lapin kei car? We’d buy it in a heartbeat as an alternative to the 2015 Smart ForFour.

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