Kei car was first offered by Suzuki in the year 1955. In September 1971, the interesting departure was the Fronte Coupé from the other Kei cars. It was a strict 2 seater vehicle, measuring around 2995 mm, Giugiaro-designed; the smallest GT based Suzuki Fronte on the rear engine. Depending on the equipment level, it used a two-stroke engine of 359 cc thus developing 31, 34 or 37 hp (35 in later models) likewise. Fronte Coupe exited in June, 1976 as it could not match up to the new limits of Kei Jidosha and neither the strict regulations of the emissions. The “Cervo” name which means deer in Italian language, was used as a replacement and the nameplate was out and gone in 1998-2006. Again in March of 2010, may be for Indian market this was revised before the year ended.
Cervo SS20 (first generation)
In October 1977, Suzuki came back with the market for sports mini car with the latest Cervo. More of a JDM model, SS20 Cervo (though in Chile it was known as the LHD) came with a two-stroke engine of a 539 cc three-cylinder. The chassis of SS20 were used from the Fronte 7-S of the 1976, but it was fixed with the bigger T5A engine (which was found in the Fronte Hatch and Jimny of the rear mounted version also referred to the T5B in the FF Alto/Fronte). Its body was similar based on the Fronte Coupé of Giugiaro designed, only with a front bulge and larger bumpers leading to the original’s grace loss. The Cervo got round headlights and there was convenience by the addition of the latest rear glass hatch.
The requirements by the emissions led to the strangulation of the latest 550cc engine, whereas the 37 PS (27 kW) at 6,000 rpm was offered by the 360cc version being most powerful, 28 PS (21 kW) at 5,000 rpm was the only rate provided by the new T5A and an additional weight to drag around of around 55–80 kg. In order to accept the accelerator, its gearing was pretty low; maintain the maximum speed to 120 km/h (75 mph). Lower wind resistance was the reason for it to be ten times better than the Fronte 7-S sedan version in achievement whereas Car Graphic could only touch around 111.80 km/h (69 mph) in 1977 while testing along with the 0–400 m sprint in 23 seconds. After 7,000 rpm, the engine gave up. Suzuki was quite aware of the fact that Cervo, was no longer a mini GT car, unlike its old mates and even the advertisement was reflected in the same manner keeping a target for female demographic (other than the sporty CX-G version).
Through the “ladies version” CX-L, the range of the equipment levels varies from the entry-level CX (¥608,000 in 1977) to the top-of-the-line CX-G (¥698,000). Front disc brakes were present only in the CX-G version, while the rest had drums all over. Its handling can be according to the expectation leaded by the rear engine to a kind of a twitchy front end. In the front bumper, a little heavy four cylinder engine was introduced in the SC100s by a balancing weight.
Little modification was done to the SS20 Cervo in 1978, majorly of interior up gradation. Around June 1982, conventional SS40 had replaced this.
For export reasons, Suzuki had transformed the SC100 from the Cervo being started in April 1978. In England, it was known by the nickname as “Whizzkid”. Rear mounted F10A engine of 970 cc four-cylinder had taken the place of the three cylinder engine (also being used in SJ410 later) developing 47 PS (35 kW). in a contemporary test , its maximum speed was around 142.8 km/h (89 mph). Its body was different from that of a Cervo, where the windshield was not steeply raked as alike, thus needing a side window and different doorframe also. In European markets, square headlights were being used unlike the round ones used at other places and even the chunky indicator lenses were incorporated by grille that is usually kept under the bumper – plastic grilles being blanked by these openings.
Only in UK, SC100 GX is available in the lavishly equipped form, whereas at other places it even comes as a CX and the much luxurious CX-G. The model GX, that comes with a reclining front seats, cigar lighter and the independent suspension on all round basis was sold for £2,400 on introduction (the little bigger Alto of in the similar period for £3375). The late LJK Setright, an enthusiastic owner and a big time columnist in CAR magazine, had helped the marketing campaign and other markets include New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Netherlands and other Latin American countries.
In Europe, this car was sold from 1979 till 1982, and then exited. Only changes in one model took place, when column switches and dashboard were changed in January 1980. With demand more than supply, in Britain, British importer Heron Suzuki made sales of 4,696 SC100s and thus the car got a status of minor classic. In Netherlands, a sale of 3,400 SC100s were made by Nimag and till 2007, 54 “Whizzkids” were registered for UK roads.
Cervo SS40 (2nd generation)
In June 1982, compared to the underpinnings of the latest changed Alto/Fronte, a new Cervo was introduced with front wheel sported drive along with transversally placed four-stroke engine. Similar like the SS40 Fronte was the F5A engine. 29 hp (22 kW) was available because of the twin choke carb, instead the 28 hp (21 kW) of the “cooking” Alto/Mighty Boy. This one offered a much better and a lower position for sporty driving as compared to its siblings. Anybody taller than 5.8” would definitely hit the ceiling. Being a sporty ones, strangely Cervo is with the higher geared than the other sibling cars. Maximum speed of Fronte anyways is the same as 110 km/h (68 mph) as known by one person or a little more at 115 km/h (71 mph) as per another. In order to differentiate the Cervo from the rest of the SS40 versions, its model code was SS40C (Mighty Boy: SS40T, Fronte: SS40S, Alto: SS40V).
Its fastback shape was similar to the original design of Giugiaro’s, whereas the aerodynamic body seemed to be little plain comparatively. Headlights being the square shaped, there was a high amount of glass with a broader B-pillar than the SS20 and better space for luggage was available because of the larger rear glass hatch. The rear seat being folded, latest versions even operate on remote basis like opening mechanism and heated rear window. SS40 was also the first version in Cervo to offer a two speed automatic transmission. These all features took away the basic concept of the “mini Gran Turismo” to a “Personal Car”.
On introduction, only a CS (4MT) or CS-Q (2AT) was offered (¥580,000/620,000). Around September, addition of CS-QL (2AT) and CS-L (5MT) were made, thus offering covered seats with fabric and many other benefits at a price of ¥687,000. This all came with a steel wheels of 10-inch and the automatic transmission was not successful, giving only ratios of two gear and bad acceleration and worst gas mileage in a higher price.
Cervo CG72V/CH72V (3rd generation)
Latest Cervo was presented on 22nd January, 1988 and Suzuki concentrated this time for a van with a squat and for good appearance a boxy rear with a combination of door skins and front clip of Alto/Fronte. Along with the widest C-pillar, glass was used to make the front roof part, a short and little wraparound rear spoiler and a better match for the hatchback lid at the top. In Japan, its nickname was “Airbrick” and “Komachi Yokocho” at other places, making a mark by the stylish young females. Usual interiors than the outside like the covered seats with the large bright yellow and gray pattern and the touch of sporty look was added by the white gauges. In the C-pillars and central console, storage compartments were made and a Mitsubishi Diatone stereo of high powered was also standard.
Cervo Mode (4th generation)
(CN21-22S / CP21-22S / CN31-32S / CP31-32S)
Keeping a target of female section, the Cervo nameplate again made a return in July 1990, and this time matching with the latest standards of Kei Jidosha and a longer engine by 110 cc and it was 100 mm. on a strange side, this car was a two box design traditional types, being sold like a 3 door hatchback. At first, Cervo model was upgraded to be a full range of cars, leading to the exit of the Fronte which have made a mark over the “regular” Alto. Breathtaking Y?ji Oda came in the market, maintaining the required clients.
Cervo HG21S (5th generation)
Again in November 2006, Suzuki represented the Cervo name. The latest Alto-based Cervo is more luxurious comparatively and is still a kei car. Originally it came with an engine of 658 cc K6A (turbo T and TX version with 60hp and VVT G version with 54 hp). It is marked as a better masculine option to the MR Wagon, available with the four-speed automatic as a five door (turbo cars being a manual mode). The better ones come with a Bluetooth and a keyless entry. G Limited was added in June 2007, with a rear spoiler and alloys of fourteen inches of TX.
Good Design Award was received by Cervo in October 2007, and the introduction of SR version had taken place with a turbo engine of 64 hp direct injection and CVT transmission of seven step, the first of its kind. On the test cycle, with the front wheel drive, this version has made a remark of 23.0 km/l (54 mpg). A little up gradation was done with suspension changes and the liquid seal engine mounts. In May 2008, more colors were added along with the G Limited II model, which displayed a sporty looks and interiors of alcantara. Different models got different features and parts, SR had the availability of gas discharge headlights.