The car in the photo is about to become a rarity, at least in the United States. It’s a Suzuki, which means it’s made by a Japanese manufacturer of cars and motorcycles that recently decided to leave the U.S. market. Should anyone care?
Suzuki has been the butt of jokes for years, so it’s not surprising that the company is giving up, or that it’s hard to muster the sentimental feelings that came with Saab’s departure about a year ago. Yet even the most maligned carmakers have some good qualities.
In a sure sign of the impending “Fiscal Cliff”/Mayan Apocalypse, Suzuki’s sales are actually increasing. Despite being bankrupt, Suzuki’s American division is buying 2,500 more cars to fill inventory before it makes its exit.
Apparently, buyers are so thrilled by the idea of a bargain that they’re willing to ignore Suzuki’s bankruptcy and the future lack of factory support for the cars they are purchasing. After all, Suzukis were among the cheapest cars sold in the U.S., so a “Store Closing” sale should yield some epically low prices.
It might be a long shot, but Suzukis could even become future collectibles because of their rarity. Then again, maybe not.
As a bargain basement brand, Suzuki never had the esoteric caché of a Saab or Peugeot, and it made some of the worst cars ever built. The Samurai is a favorite of off-roaders, but everyone knows it will tip over if you look at it funny. Suzuki is also to blame for America’s most egregious economy car, the Cultus, a.k.a. Geo Metro. In addition, Suzuki could never match its fellow Japanese companies’ sterling reliability.
However, there were some bright spots. The Aerio was, at least, unique, and it was Top Gear’s first Reasonably Priced Car. Some of the current models, the Kizashi sedan (pictured), SX4 hatchback, and Nissan Frontier-based Equator pickup specifically, aren’t that bad either.
These cars never offered the flashy styling, million airbags safety, or technological overload of their competitors; they were either incredibly cynical or incredibly honest. They were either trying to trick undiscerning buyers, or being unpretentious.
In the past five years, cars have started morphing into Apple Stores; many are more like platforms for tech than transportation. Suzuki never had the resources to pull that off, so it had to focus on making cars. Maybe there is a reason to care about its departure, after all.