If you missed your chance to get a Nissan Figaro, the throwback design of the Suzuki Lapin LC is here to save the day. It’s been a while since a Japanese carmaker has produced something in the retro-cute category. With the Lapin LC, Suzuki reaches way back into their history for a deep cut from 55 years ago.
The Lapin LC’s design is an homage to the 1967 Suzuki Fronte. The big, round inset headlights flanking an oval grille are an unmistakable reference to the original kei car. The Fronte’s grille housed an upright badge with central chrome bar with turn signals on either end, a pattern repeated with decorative shapes in the Lapin LC’s grille.
Even the mail slot opening on the front of the Lapin LC is meant to mimic the hood line of the Fronte. And if there remains any doubt about the Lapin LC’s origins, the Fronte’s chassis code was LC10. The Lapin LC uses that code right there in its name, like the Toyota FJ Cruiser or GR86.
In fact, Suzuki has been trying to revive the Fronte for decades. Back in 2005 the Suzuki LC concept, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, was a far more direct reference to the LC10. They tried again at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show with the WakuSpo concept, which merged a Fronte-style nose with a transformable back end not unlike the Nissan Pulsar EXA.
The retro theme continues into the cabin, where heavy use of browns create a warm and inviting space. It’s a sharp contrast to the stark and serious blacks and grays of most modern cars. Mahogany plaid upholstery reminds us of a 1970s living room recliner, which fits right in with the extensive use of wood grain patterns. Even the ivory headliner is diamond quilted.
And of course, since it is a kei car, clever storage spaces abound. There’s a pull-out drawer for a box of tissues, an umbrella holder beneath the steering column, and a little hook from which to hang shopping bags. The dash has cupholders both open and hidden, and the center stack has a tray just the right size for a smartphone.
Besides its retro-styled circular gauge pod, a LCD display emits all sorts of ultra-cute messages. Not only does it let you know what gear you’re in, how much fuel you have, or when your door is ajar, but it will wish you happy birthday and happy new year with cute cartoon bunnies.
The Lapin LC is a variant of the already lovable Lapin, which means “rabbit” in French. As such, one of the wheel designs has a bunny ear silhouette on the center cap, making them the greatest wheel design since the Rilakkumas, which are coincidentally often modeled on a first-generation Lapin.
Of course, the Suzuki Lapin LC is not available in the US, at least not until 2047 when it finally becomes legal to import. The Lapin LC follows in the footsteps of other retro kei cars like the Honda N-WGN and Honda N-One. We’re just glad Suzuki was finally able to see their idea of a Fronte tribute make it into production after all these years.
Images courtesy of Suzuki.