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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Small, Turbocharged, and Boxy: This Rare Suzuki Has it All


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

In America, performance cars tend to be epic displays of horsepower and off-the-line speed…more or less the grand finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show, wrapped up in car form. Challenger Hellcat, Shelby GT500, the great Corvette ZR1. You get the picture. 
But in Japan, those beasts wouldn’t fare so well on a crowded Tokyo thoroughfare at rush hour. The performance alternative? A teeny, turbocharged street fighter. Something like this—a 1987 Suzuki Alto Works RS/X.

The Alto kei car was never sold on U.S. shores, but that didn’t stop this one from hopping the Pacific and landing on eBay in New York. While it may be a bit odd and undersized on these shores, it’s far from shabby in the performance department.


Spec-up a “Works” version of the Suzuki Alto in 1987 and you could gain access to a turbocharged, intercooled, and twin-cam version of Suzuki’s teensy 550cc three-cylinder engine, which was displacement restricted due to kei car regulation. That zippy arrangement netted a punchy 63 horsepower, capable of scooting the under-1,400 pound Alto from light to light with ease. In this car shift work is handled by a manual gearbox, though an automatic was optional.

While the Suzuki redlines at a screaming 9,500 rpm and can surely turn those numbers, its speedometer is a bit more telling—topping out at 120 kilometers per hour, or about 75 mph. Not exactly a highway cruiser, but definitely at home blasting around city streets. In this vintage, turbocharged twin-cam Alto Works models came in RS/X (front-wheel drive) and RS/R (all-wheel drive) trim. This one is the former.


On the whole, these cars have aged pretty darn well in their 20-plus years on Earth. The exterior styling still looks clean, and who can fault a good shouty body kit and off-set hood scoop? Believe it or not, the black-and-pink cloth interior was an original option.

As far as aftermarket touches go, this Alto Works has only a few, which include tasteful Enkei wheels, a billet shift knob with matching pedals, an HKS turbo timer, and a GReddy boost gauge.
What say you, Internets? Is the grin-worthy Suzuki cool, or should it stay in the ‘80s?