Suzuki Palette Concept Car

Suzuki makes and sells a whole lot of kei-class tall wagons in Japan, thanks to the ever-popular Wagon R and all the variants it has produced. The latest micro-minivan to hit the market is the Palette, which the automaker first showed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. On sale January 30, the Palette is a tall-roofed four-passenger minivan whose key features are dual sliders (with power available on one or both sides, depending on trim level) and its low, flat load floor.

Practicality is king with cars like this, but for buyers interested in having added niceties, the list of standard and available features include keyless entry and start, HID headlamps, different stereo options, and trim-grade-specific exterior styling elements. All are typical of Suzuki’s kei car offerings, as are the availability of NA or turbocharged engines, manual and automatic gearboxes, and a choice of 2WD or 4WD. Suzuki doesn’t mention power outputs for the engines, but assuming the Palette is to be a kei car, the maximum allowable is 64 hp, which you’d get from the turbo. Chalk up another nifty little city car for Suzuki.

We’re continually fascinated with the level of innovation and practicality the Japanese are able to stuff into 660cc, 66bhp kei cars. Suzuki’s new Palette may not be the most exciting kei car to ever debut, but it scores points on practicality with dual automatic sliding doors and a completely flat load floor. More importantly, it comes in pink, which may just be the most righteous color to paint a kei car there is. Personally, I’m holding out for a pink Nissan Pao and a wardrobe full of ’70s safari-style lounge suits.

Suzuki thinks it has the right palette to paint a happy family portrait with the Palette minicar concept displayed at October’s Tokyo auto show.

The Palette is a mini tall wagon aimed at parents sharing time with their children and kids who like to have fun with their friends. To that end, the boxy mini-minivan—think Scion xB—has a cabin that can accommodate four, with a low, flat floor to better serve as a romper room. The Palette also screams family vehicle with left- and right-hand power-sliding doors à la minivans.

Unlike many of the funky designs that make the Tokyo show a crazy feast for the senses, the Palette looks production ready by comparison. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the road in Asia and Europe in the near future.
Mark Harano, president of American Suzuki Motor Corporation, tells us the Palette is too small for the U.S. market. But he says the automaker will monitor the success of the Suzuki Swift subcompact when it goes on sale in North America around 2010 for an indication of the appetite for small vehicles.
The Swift is a size smaller than the Suzuki SX4 that rides on a stretched Swift platform. Harano says the Swift five-door hatch (a three-door is sold elsewhere in the world but is not as likely to be sold in the U.S.) is different enough in size to not compete with the SX4, and he thinks continued high gasoline prices could create enough demand for smaller vehicles to make both vehicles sustainable.

Tokyo 2007 Preview.

Scribbled on September 30th 2008 in Suzuki, Suzuki Palette
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