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Kei cars come with small engine capacities and compact dimensions. Here are some that are available in Singapore that are so cool even the wife will approve.

08 Jul 2022

From the crazy to the cool and the eccentric to the extraordinary, Kei cars have always been the weapon of choice for drivers who are into compact superminis that are easy to drive. To us purists, Kei cars are a little more than that. They represent a sense of car ownership pride that goes against the norm of speed and looks. In other words, we reckon these cars deserve extra brownie points, even when parked next to the Nissan GT-R or the Toyota Supra.

The phrase 'kei car' is derived from the Japanese word keijidosha, which translates to 'light automobile'. They are classified as one when their displacement capacity is 660cc or less, and are of a compact size. Here are several Kei cars that are currently on sale in Singapore (as of time of writing) that are so cool that we're pretty sure even the wife will approve of them.

1. Daihatsu Copen

The Daihatsu Copen is a lightweight Kei car that gets up to speed relatively easily
You see this car every once in a while, in liveries that mimic the Porsche GT3 or the Austin Mini. Underneath the bonnet, however, is a vastly different story. The Daihatsu Copen sports a 660cc engine that produces 63bhp and 110Nm of torque via a four-speed auto or a five-speed manual gearbox.

Because of its compact dimensions and light weight of just over 800kg, the Copen gets up to speed relatively quickly and allows you to zip in and out of traffic without breaking a sweat. Best part of all, you can look cool while driving one.

This is right up my alley! Find out more about the Daihatsu Copen here.

2. Honda S660

The Honda S660 is a sporty two-seater Kei car
This ultra sporty-looking two-seater targa Honda comes with a 660cc (as its name suggests) three-cylinder engine that pumps out 64bhp and 104Nm of torque. The naming convention of using the letter 'S' followed by the engine displacement is the carmaker's tradition. Other than this roadster here, there's also the Honda S2000 as well as the Honda S500, which is Honda's second production car that was released back in the early 60s.

Hence, we reckon driving one of these sports cars certainly shows the personality of the owner. While many will always lament how sports cars need to have big displacement capacities and turbos for the sake of speed (and pride), the Honda S660 is the epitome of how fast doesn't necessarily equate to fun, and only a handful of drivers will know that.

I am that sort of driver! Find out more about the Honda S660 here!

3. Honda N-Box

Honda N-Box is a super cool-looking boxy car
The Honda N-Box is a Kei car that was released back in 2011. Singapore, however, also had the N-Box Slash, which had a lower roof compared to the regular N-Box. Given it's boxy shape and the capability of sliding the rear seats front and back as well as folding them down flat, the Honda Kei car does its job well for accommodating long and big cargo items too.

Recently, Honda also facelifted the N-Box and it now comes with a more powerful engine. As such, the Custom L Turbo, as its called, pumps out 63bhp - five more horses than the regular one. And as you can come to expect, the facelifted model looks a tad more aggressive and prominent up front, with a cabin that's also a tad more upmarket.

I'm a Honda fan! Find out more about the Honda N-Box here!

4. Mitsubishi i

This is the electric version of the Mitsubishi i
This four-door Kei car comes with a turbocharged engine that sends 63bhp and 94Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox. As a result, the century sprint is completed in a relaxing 14.9 seconds. Not that it really matters, since Kei cars are more about style than speed. For instance, the car had special production models that were either sold for charity or made for owners to keep.

Interestingly, the Mitsubishi i was also developed as an electric car under the carmaker's MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle), which eventually went on sale around the world in 2010/11.

I can totally relate to special edition cars! Find out more about the Mitsubishi i here!

5. Subaru Vivio Rx-R

Extremely capable, this Subaru is a pocket rocket
Introduced in the early 90s, the Subaru Vivio Rx-R is a front-wheel driven Kei car that's extremely rare in Singapore today. In fact, it's so rare that there is currently only one of this on sale on our used car listings today. It comes with a five-speed manual transmission that pumps out just about 60bhp.

But do not let the minute figures put you off. The Subaru Vivio Rx-R is a highly capable car that even took part in WRC Rally.

I want to be a part of history! Find out more about the Subaru Vivio Rx-R here!

6. Suzuki Hustler

The Hustler comes in many striking colours
Ah... one of our favourites... The Suzuki Hustler is an ultra-cool Kei car that came with striking colours as standard. While it only had 52bhp and 62Nm of torque on tap, the Hustler is such an eye-catching machine that many were willing to pay a premium for it in Singapore.

Unfortunately, due to that, you won't be able to find any on our used car listings at the moment. Many of the owners of this highly appealing Kei car aren't willing to sell it off just yet. However, if you're willing to wait, someone may just let it go in the near future. Patience is always key to getting that dream car, no?

7. Suzuki Cappuccino

The Cappuccino is yet another cool and sporty kei car from Suzuki
Another Kei car from Suzuki is the Cappuccino - a mid-engine real-wheel driven two-door roadster that's quite rare in Singapore today. Equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, this roadster weighs just 725kg, which makes it very easy to get up to speed.

This car, together with its direct competitors (Autozam AZ-1 and Honda Beat), was so popular in the past in Japan that it the three cars were labelled as sporty Kei cars ABC - all taken from the initials of the cars' models. Unfortunately, like the Hustler, the Cappuccino is unavailable for sale at the moment.

8. Suzuki Lapin

The Suzuki Lapin is a very good-looking Kei car
One of the most handsome Kei cars in the market is the Suzuki Lapin. As a five-door hatchback, the Lapin came with a four-speed autobox that's linked to a 660cc naturally aspirated engine. Hence it was capable of about 53bhp. While you seldom see this on the road today, there is a turbocharged variant, which is good for 63bhp, available for sale in Singapore right now.

The turbocharged version has an option for a five-speed manual. While we aren't really fond of the colour of the car, you could opt to respray it to a cream colour - one that does very well with the Lapin.

I love cream-coloured cars! Find out more about the Suzuki Lapin here!

9. Suzuki Every Turbo

The previous generation Every came with a five-speed manual transmission
Yes, Suzuki aces when it comes to Kei cars. The last on our list is the Every Turbo, which is labelled as a commercial vehicle in Singapore. While the predecessor NA Every came with a five-speed manual, the current Turbo is now equipped with a four-speed autobox.

Needless to say, the turbocharged variant has a more powerful output of 63bhp compared to the 48bhp of the NA variant. The Every is certainly a popular choice amongst business owners, thanks to its economical nature and ample cabin space that can haul big or long items.

I need something that can swallow long items! Find out more about the Suzuki Every Turbo here!

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