Suzusho is primarily known in the auto world as a manufacturer of replica kit cars, so how does an original model stack up? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s definitely a lot to like about the Supasse-V, but when compared against the other sorts of lightweight racing-inspired cars, it falls a bit short in terms of both style and substance.
Two of the kit car replicas that Suzusho produces are the Caterham Seven and the Lotus 7. Both of these cars have a design philosophy that essentially revolves are putting a powerful engine into a very lightweight car. The Supasse-V also adopts this strategy and turns out to be pretty good at it. The power comes from a 2.3-liter four cylinder engine from a MazdaSpeed3 which is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The engine is tuned to produce 265 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is monstrous when you consider that the car only weighs in at 1,870 pounds. For the sake of comparison, the Lotus Exige S, one of the lightest and quickest cars around, weighs 2,057 pounds and has a supercharged 1.8-liter inline four cylinder engine that puts out 220 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque. On paper, this is a monumental increase over the Exige S, being both lighter and more powerful. However, engine capabilities and vehicle weight are not the only factors in making a good sports car.
The suspension architecture is solid, if not outstanding. The Supasse-V takes the promise of power that the engine specs delivers, and it makes it manageable. The monocoque chassis and suspension was designed by Suzusho, so this isn’t simply a reskin of one of the company’s kit cars. Also, for the racers who are looking for a car, the Supasse-V was designed to be tuner-friendly, as evidenced by such features as an easily removed bolt-on subframe.
Mechanically, the Supasse-V is incredibly sound. It combines the lightweight, large engine philosophy that has characterized the Lotus sports cars with the solid engineering of Japanese autos. One place where the car falls incredibly short, however, is in the exterior design. It’s not horribly bad, it just seems unfinished. The vertical doors, overly rounded wheel arches, and headlights that seem to go out of their way to be out-dated are all a bit much.
The interior is similarly odd. Not because of its features, but rather because of a lack of features. If you want more than a seat, a steering wheel, a shifter and a couple gauges, then you’d best look elsewhere. It belies Suzusho’s history as a kit car company. It’s one thing to come up with a clever and cost-effective way to create a replica car kit; it’s quite another to design a car on your own. If Suzusho had simply done all of the mechanical design itself and then hired an outside designer to create an appealing exterior and interior.