A miniature panel van perfect for short hauls, big grins
One of the cheapest new vehicles on the South African market, and indeed the slowest we have tested in five years, the Suzuki Eeco van is also the most cheerful and happiest thing we have driven for months. Would you believe that this basic appliance of a car basically stops the traffic? We spent more time discussing it with interested passers-by than we did with anything else for months too.
What makes it so special? Well the Suzuki Eeco is just so cute. And for a little village or city panel van, all we can say is beat it! Spartan as an empty refrigerator and as utilitarian as an army corporal’s inspection protocol, this practical little vehicle is built solely for purpose. Nobody ever intended that for it, so it’s not even pretending! Which makes it even cuter.
Transport. safe and efficient as possible
Long a market leader in markets like India, where they have for instance already sold almost a million of them, Eeco is plain and simple designed to transport a reasonable amount of goods as safely and as efficiently as possible. Now in South Africa, this stronger, cooler, and safer latest version, it joins its Super Carry baby bakkie sibling to deliver a minivan solution at the lowest possible price. But with the load security advantages of a panel van.
All three of Eeco’s 1.07 metre tall roof-to-bumper tall tailgate and two sliding child-lock side doors open onto the 1,62 metre long by 1.3 metre wide, if slightly raised load bay. For maximum ease of loading. That bay will easily take a full-sized South African pallet or a variety of bulky objects. Best of all, Eeco is certified to carry a 615 kg load with two passengers and a full tank of fuel aboard.
A steel grid partitions the load bay from the adequately spacious cabin to keep the driver and passenger safe. Spartan does not mean uncomfortable up front. A tall command seating position and large side windows make for an easy manoeuvrability and a clear view out and rear through sizeable wing mirrors. The driver is greeted by a clear and basic digital dials and a light to turn, but chunky grip polyurethane steering.
It’s not fast. Eeco is rather cheerful
Add a factory air conditioner and 12 V power socket and ours even had an aftermarket radio fitted to the standard prepared two speakers and an antenna. Look, it’s more like driving a refrigerator. But cheerful and fun. Horses for courses, they say!
Eeco’s 59 kW 104 Nm multipoint fuel-injected and variably timed 16 valve 1.2 litre four pot K12N engine also benefits a lofty 12:1 compression ratio for good grunt and great economy. It drives the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.
Nobody would expect the Eeco to dominate a drag race and we are pleased to report that it doesn’t. In fact, it’s the slowest car we have tested in five years and very narrowly missed out on our top ten ever lowest accelerating vehicles to 100 km/h. Took 14.5 seconds. And no, it doesn’t feel slow. We told you already, its more cheerful.
Wieldy best sums Eeco up
Rack-and-pinion steering has an aggressive steering ratio to deliver a frightfully wieldy 4.5 metre turning circle. At 3.67 metres long, 1.47 m wide and riding on a 3.35 m a wheelbase, that word ‘wieldy’ also perfectly sums Eeco up. And with MacPherson strut front and a three-link rigid rear axles, it’s surprisingly comfy, yet rugged and durable all at once.
Eeco comes with steel side-impact beams three-point retracting seatbelts an airbag for each of its two occupants. Add ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD and what impressed us most, electronic stability control too. Add rear parking sensors, a high-mounted stop lamp and an anti-theft immobiliser as standard.
The Suzuki Eeco comes in any colour, as long as that is white, is easy and uncomplicated to maintain, and is available through all 95 Suzuki dealers across Southern Africa complete with Suzuki’s three year 100,000 km mechanical warranty.
You will steal your Eeco over weekends
At the end of the day, if you run a city florist, a village laundry or you must deliver lunchtime tick around town, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this little Suzuki. The Eeco difference is that you may very well find yourself sneaking home with it over the weekend and stealing enjoyable little drives. And you will meet the coolest people who come across just to chat about it too. Yes, it really is that cool! – Michele Lupini
Testing & images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Suzuki Eeco Engine: 59 kW 104 Nm 1.2-litre petrol I4 Drive: 5-speed manual RWD Load Capacity: 650 kg TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 5.87 sec 0-100 km/h: 14.49 sec 0-120 km/h: 28.27 sec 400m: 19.3 sec @ 110 km/h 80-120 km/h: 19.09 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 150 km/h Fuel: 5.4 l/100 km CO2: 118 g/km Range: 595 km Warranty: 3y 100K km LIST PRICE: R199K RATED: 8