The Suzuki Carry is a larger version of the traditional Japanese microvan. It’s still a small player in the UK used market, but big on features as Ian Shaw finds out.
The original Japanese microvans typified by offerings from Suzuki, Daihatsu and Honda, fell foul of increasing safety legislation where, just like the old rear-engined Volkswagen Transporter, the crumple zone was the driver's face. Rising to the challenge, a change of design to a semi-forward control layout, and an increase in load volume, brought the old microvan into the modern area and it is all the better for it. Now in its eleventh generation as seen here, the Suzuki has been a mainstay of the sector. Typically Japanese in its continued sole use of a petrol engine where most of the European makers don't even offer one as an option, it has stuck to what it knows, and does, best. It is a petrol engine well-suited to its task however. The 1.3 litre 16-valve unit may have a specification more in keeping with a hot-hatch than a load-lugger but it is tuned for a wide spread of torque. Here, no doubt, Suzuki has drawn on its experience in small off-roaders and it seems to have a good reliability and economy reputation. Sure with only 82 bhp on tap it lacks real grunt but the Carry is more often used by florists than couriers, scooting through city traffic not blasting along the motorway. It's a van continually developed for its intended environment. It has a payload of 450 kgs, boasts van and dropside versions and offers car-like cab comfort. It can accept a Euro-pallet with ease, and the side-loading door aperture is generously wide, with around three cubic metres of space inside. However at less than four-metres long overall it remains easy to manoeuvre and the generous 2.35 metre wheel base means the rough-sea ride quality of the old microvans is gone.
Servicing is easy, engine access is better with the semi-bonnet design and the small tyre sizes may not enable massive payloads, but replacement costs are low.
On the reliability front VOSA tells us of a couple of recalls of the Suzuki Carry but they relate to much older vehicles than those we are looking at here and concern the gearshift selector cable, it may be worth checking this on newer versions but we have not heard of the problem continuing. Suzuki's reliability reputation seems well deserved with engines and transmissions being strong, although admittedly, the Carry sees light duty compared to most Transits or Sprinters. Rust seems to be a bit of a concern however and we have seen several examples with corrosion on door bottoms and wheel arches. However it's fair to say that the Carry is not a common sight so the sample size is skewed. We have heard also of one of two door catch / lock issues, minor paint problems and some alternator failures, but again this can apply to any vehicle and use and abuse must be considered a factor when the fault is not widespread.
So how much should a good used Carry cost you? The short answer is around £4,000. The WhatVan.co.uk used van locator found a few across the country with a late 2005 55-plate example showing 35,000 miles at £3,995, a 2005 05-plate with under 50,000miles at exactly the same price, and a slightly older 54-plate example with the same mileage saving £100. We also found a tidy 53-plate example for under £3,000. A lot of little van for the money.