These days, it is virtually impossible not to notice the proliferation of “Micro” sized Japanese cars on our roads. We mainly see Suzukis – Wagon R and Every. Why the sudden proliferation? Because the current import duty structure gives the most benefit to vehicle with 660cc engines. So this segment of motorists consist mainly of first time car buyers and of course corporates who need run-abouts for their sales people and indeed taxi companies that use them as budget priced taxis.
But look closely, and there is another group of enthusiasts who are also buying some of these “Kei” cars that still uses those tiny engines; but with turbo chargers that give them more get up and go.
So in this backdrop, this month we did a Kei Car Group Test that included three of these more “sporty” machines. They are the Honda S660 Mugen RA, Daihatsu Copen Robe and Daihatsu Cast Sport. Tested by three of our guys... Avinda, Ashraaq and Ryan. It certainly seems like the trio had a lot of fun testing these cars, and I’m sure you will enjoy reading about it.
A brief note about Kei cars... Kei or kei jid?sha in Japanese, means "light automobile". It is a Japanese category of small vehicles, including passenger cars, micro-vans, and pickup trucks. They are designed to comply with Japanese government tax and insurance regulations, and in most rural areas of Japan are exempted from the requirement to certify that adequate parking is available for the vehicle! Initially this especially advantaged class of cars were developed to popularize motorization in the post-war era. While successful in Japan, the genre is generally too specialized and too small to be profitable in export markets – yes I know; our market must be too minute to make a difference.
We also tested the Peugeot 5008. Unlike the previous generation that was a pure MPV, this 5008 can best be described as a crossover between a SUV and MPV! It is actually an extended version of the 3008 which we tested a couple of months back. The wheelbase is extended to 2.84 m making it possible to significantly increase the capacity; seven seats are now available, divided into three rows. I see this as an excellent transporter for example in the tourism industry, or indeed for those of you who need to take your extended family on holidays – mother-in-law in the last row?
In other tests, we were the first to test the second of the MG SUV’s that came in to the country. MG as you know is no longer “British”. Neither is it a manufacturer of sports cars! The SZ is a proper SUV built by the Chinese owners of the marquee. In the local market it probably is one of the best value for money SUV’s you can lay your hands on.
You can also read about the Mahagastotte Hill Climb event in this issue; and indeed the ever popular Drag Races held at Katukurunda – both organized and conducted by the oldest motor sports club in Sri Lanka, the Ceylon Motor Sports Club.
A bit of history of the Motor magazine… twenty three years ago – on 5th May 1995 in fact; the first Issue of Motor magazine was published. This then must be the 276th Editor’s Rumblings that I am writing!