Guide to buying the Cappuccino - Evo Magazine, April 2003

What the Press say about the Cappuccino

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Guide to buying the Cappuccino - Evo Magazine, April 2003

Postby Alex Clouter » Thu Jun 12, 2003 12:38

Miniature Heroes
By Jethro Bovingdon, Evo Magazine, April 2003

Reproduced by kind permission of the author.

The Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino were designed small to meet Japanese congestion regulations. But while they're not big, they are very clever and an awful lot of fun. In fact they make an intriguing alternative to a new Smart Roadster…

If you love the idea of the Smart Roadster but balk at the price, then from as little as £4000 both the Cappuccino and the Beat should be on your shopping list. In an era when even superminis wear 17in wheels and have so much grip that exploiting them on the road is becoming increasingly difficult, the Kei-classers are really beginning to make sense in the UK. Both the Beat and the Cappuccino are affordable, reliable and cheap to maintain. That they offer a genuinely special driving experience - and have such a strong feel-good factor - seals their appeal.

Checkpoints when buying these cars…

Japanese cars have a reputation for being bulletproof and even when scaled down to Kei-class, none of the quality is lost. Neither car should cause too many problems and if you can live with the tight cabins then using these cars every day is perfectly feasible. Even so, a full service history is very important. The Honda always needs to be revved hard to extract its performance and the Cappuccino's turbo needs regular oil changes, so neglected cars can cause unexpected problems. Be wary of tuned cars and cars that have had the speed limiter removed; these engines are generally strong but extended periods at speeds above the engineered-in maximum can cause excess wear.


The Cappuccino needs oil changes every 3000 miles so check that the present owner has been fastidious about servicing. The turbo is very reliable but you're better to wait for a properly maintained car than to risk a big bill on a car with an uncertain history. Look for white smoke and listen out for a noisy turbo on the test drive. The cambelt needs replacing at 60,000 miles but it's a pretty cheap job so if you buy quite a high mileage car it's best to change the cambelt to avert potential disasters…


… the Cappuccino can suffer from weak synchromesh - especially on the second gear. Sorting this can be very expensive so it's best to avoid cars that crunch into gear.

Interior/ Hood

The Cappuccino has leather-effect seats (PVC), which wear well but the door panels often suffer when people climb in and out of the car. The aluminium three-piece roof is great in the winter but dents quite easily if not stowed in the boot correctly. Look at the rubber edging of each panel for wear. Make sure the air-conditioning is working too. The compressor sits in front of the radiator and can be perforated by stones, so that's worth a check too.


Neither the Beat nor the Cappuccino has enough weatherproofing to stand up to the British climate (the Japanese don't salt their roads, so rustproofing isn't such an issue). The Suzuki rusts behind the rear numberplate and in the arches. It's also worth checking the sills, under chassis and engine bay. Try to find a car that has been treated to a healthy coat of Waxoyl.

What you'll pay

Both these little sportscars are pretty rare, so you're unlikely to have a whole raft to choose from if you decide to buy. The Cappuccino is the easier of the two to find (there's around 800 on the road) and prices start at around £4000. If you're buying a '93-'95 Cappuccino we'd stick to a UK car simply because it's easier to trace its history. There are a few Type 2 (post September '95 production) cars in the country but they are not UK spec/ type approved. These will command more like £6000-£6500. Prices tend to go up in the summer so start looking in the spring or the autumn.
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