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Concept Car of the Week: Suzuki GSX-R/4 (2001)

Fri, 28 Dec 2012

Christmas is over. You ate kilos of chocolate, you opened your socks and your fancy gadgets, but let's be honest, deep inside you miss the times toys waited for you under the tree. But who said toys were only for kids? Suzuki certainly didn't think so back in 2001.

The GSX-R/4 sounds like it could be from latest Transformers movie but is arguably one of Japanese manufacturer's finest concept cars. The idea is very simple – take the engine from one of the world's fastest motorbikes, the GSX1300R Hayabusa, and give it four wheels to create a 640kg sports car with 173bhp. Don't you wish you'd had one of those under the tree?

Presented at the Tokyo motor show in 2001, two years after Smart introduced its Roaster concept, the GSX-R/4 featured a distinctive aluminum frame, perforated panels for cooling and weight-saving, exposed horizontal spring and damper units, an unfaired engine, and detachable, recycled plastic body panels for easy customization. The result was a truly youthful, modern and honest design with a timeless geometry comparable to the Renault Argos or Audi TT. It rides low on 20-inch matte gray 4-hole wheels, with a playful stance.

With no windscreen and only two little bubbles posing as deflectors the two occupants would be directly in touch with the elements. The stripped-out interior is fitted with two lightweight bucket seats providing plenty of lateral support but little comfort and only storage for helmets behind the seats. To please tech nerds, ASV (Advanced Safety Vehicle) analyzes driving style and behavior to adapt the engine and suspension settings for improved performance and safety. The information is relayed to the driver via a large monitor to help improve their driving skills. The car also has a Seiko Instruments Wrist-mount System, that serves as a door lock release; driver identification; wireless communication tool and hands-free mobile phone. Video games were clearly a strong inspiration for the designers and it was not surprising to see the car starring in the Gran Turismo series.

The mid-mounted 1.3-liter engine revved quickly up to an exhilarating 11,000rpm redline through a six-speed sequential gearbox to the rear wheels. With the help of double overhead cams, 16 valves, an 11:1 compression ratio, liquid cooling and electronic fuel injection, the car was capable of reaching 140mph. Suzuki combined its expertise in producing high-performance small engines with weight-saving technologies to produce a machine that offered driving experience like no other conventional sports car.

If your presents didn't give you this sort of thrill, cheer up, it's only 361 sleeps until next Christmas!

First seen Tokyo auto show 2001
Engine 1,298cc, inline 4 cylinders, DOHC from Hayabusa GSX1300R
Power 175bhp @ 9,800rpm
Weight 640kg
Length 3,550mm
Width 1,730mm
Height 1,010mm

Your author, Flavien Dachet is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet