Quick, what vehicles easily come to mind when you need something to carry your business? If you thought the Mitsubishi L300, Hyundai H-100 and the Kia K2500, then we’re not entirely surprised. These three have perhaps been the most prominent (and recognizable) commercial vans in the market for some time.
Whether it’s for hauling construction equipment, moving a catering business, delivering packages around the metro, or for transporting commuters to and from the city, these light commercial vehicles (LCVs) work hard and clock long hours on the road.
But some of you might have forgotten that Suzuki also has a (lightweight) commercial vehicle of their own in the form of the Carry. First officially made available in the country as the ‘Super Carry’, Suzuki Philippines decided to bring the new global version of the LCV as production of the Indian-built Super Carry has already ceased in the wake of stricter fuel emission standards.
Available in cab & chassis, pick-up truck (what we tested), utility van, and cargo van configurations, it offers the same level of practicality and commercial capability, albeit in a bigger and more spacious package. But does bigger always mean better? Is the gasoline engine better than the diesel offering in the Super Carry? And is it more expensive than ever?
There’s no denying that the Carry was not exactly designed to be aesthetically pleasing. However, despite being a workhorse, I have to say that the Carry’s new front fascia looks better than the Super Carry’s. The wide headlights, new-style two bar front grill, and painted front bumper give it a more mature look. Other than that, the Carry is all about business and not much fluff.
So it’s clearly not a looker, that we know for sure. But what it lacks in style it makes up for in sheer cargo space. For starters, it has a claimed 940 kg carrying capacity (including the occupants) which equates to about one ton. Then there’s its big bed at the back. Measuring 2375mm long, 1660mm wide and 355mm tall, the Carry’s bed is capable of hauling small pieces of furniture, appliances, potted plants, construction equipment / supplies, and maybe even a small scooter (just make sure it’s properly secured / tied down). It also has more than 20 rope hooks which will allow you to secure big (or small) pieces of cargo with ease.
Size-wise, the Carry’s exterior dimensions measure at 4195mm long, 1765mm wide, and 1910mm tall. This makes it 395mm longer, 203mm wider, and 27mm taller than the diesel-powered Super Carry. This means that not only can it carry more (pun not intended), it also translates to more comfortable driving (or riding experience) which I’ll get to later. Did I mention it has a generous ground clearance of 160mm and a water wading depth of 300mm? Impressive for a small vehicle like the Carry. And should you have to go through rough terrain, it has a ramp breakover angle of 21.6 degrees. Add to that the galvanized steel plates and undercoating protection, and you have yourself a robust vehicle indeed.
A basic and clutter-free interior immediately greets the occupants of the Carry. From its two-spoke steering wheel, simple gauge cluster, and window cranks, the two-seater pick-up truck’s cabin is simple and spacious. However, since it’s wider and longer than the Super Carry, there is more cabin space which makes it a bit more comfortable, especially during long hauls.
The seat backrests may be fixed for both driver and passenger, but at least the driver’s side benefits from a sliding mechanism which allows for better legroom, and a more comfortable driving position. I do wish it came with an adjustable steering column, but that might be asking too much from a vehicle that costs less than Php 510,000.
Those that were vexed by the Super Carry’s lack of aircon can rejoice because the Carry now comes with air-conditioning as standard. The Super Carry lacked any kind of ventilation system (apart from opening the windows), which meant the driver and front passenger had to endure the extreme heat, not to mention suffer from pollution while the windows are down. There’s also a better entertainment system courtesy of a 1-DIN Pioneer head unit. It supports AM/FM radio, USB, plus Aux. It also has two speakers mounted on the dashboard which have better sound quality compared to the Super Carry’s built-in radio speakers.
What I really liked inside the new Carry is the dash-mounted gear shifter. Instead of it being floor-mounted, selecting the right cog is easier and less of a hassle. Moreover, it freed up cabin space which allowed for more room for the driver and passenger. Meanwhile, the dashboard features a two-tier storage bin which allows for storing small items easier and within easy reach. Did I mention the driver also benefits from a cupholder? Great for when you need a cup of coffee to jump start your morning (or evening) drive.
Powering the 2019 Carry is not a turbo-diesel engine. Unlike the Super Carry, this one comes with a 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder gasoline engine. Derived from the Ertiga MPV, the engine produces a modest 96 PS at 5600 rpm along with 135 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. It is then paired to a five-speed manual gearbox that drives the rear wheels.
Now while some may lament that the Carry is gasoline-powered, do remember that the Super Carry’s 0.8, two-cylinder turbo-diesel only made a measly 32 PS and 75 Nm of torque. Perhaps there is indeed no replacement for displacement, as well as having more than two cylinders.
Off the line, there is more substantial power from the K15B-C engine. While it may initially lack the grunt of a diesel, its bigger displacement and two extra cylinders meant it was smoother from the get-go. The clutch was light and it had a low biting point, making it easier to move and switch between gears. With most of the cars today having an automatic, getting to drive a manual stick-shift was actually refreshing. It has a very short first gear to get it moving while the gear stick easily slots in the correct cog. I do wish it had shorter throws although that could just be me being nitpicky.
On the highway, the additional power meant it was easier to merge with and get up to speed quickly. The short ratios between each gear may be a negligible complaint as it does allow for faster acceleration. There’s no rev counter to guide you when to switch gears but at least you can hear the engine itself which is enough of an indicator for you to shift.
Don’t expect a comfy ride on the Carry as it is a commercial vehicle through and through. With the engine and front suspension right underneath the cabin, you will feel every bump on the road. The relatively thick 165/80 series tires do absorb some of the rougher patches, but it will still deliver a jarring ride most of the time.
With its cab over design, the Carry is not exactly the most aerodynamic of vehicles. This meant that when you’re traveling at highways speeds, there is wind noise to contend with. And with its relative lack of Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) deadening, traveling at 60 km/h and above while inside the Carry will be quite the experience. Then there’s the engine noise which intrudes into the cabin when you’re traveling at high speeds. With another companion inside the Carry, you might have to shout at times just to convey what you’re trying to say.
It does not have an average fuel consumption meter although it does have a tripmeter which you can reset. A quick trip to the pumps and I was able to average the Carry between 9.0 - 10.0 km/l. This comes from light city driving, to rush hour traffic, as well as some weekend drives on the highway.
At Php 509,000, the simple and robust Suzuki Carry is a bargain. Sure you sacrifice a bit on creature comforts, but unlike the Super Carry which was like a hotbox on wheels, this one now comes with air-conditioning. The generously-sized bed, and 22 rope hooks mean you can tie down loose cargo with ease. And since it has a bigger engine, you wouldn’t have to mash the throttle every time you need to go fast or overtake slower vehicles on the road.
Its affordable price point does have a drawback; it has little to no safety features. While I can forgive the Carry’s lack of anti-lock brakes, the fact that it does not come with any airbags can be a concern. In this day and age where almost every vehicle on the road now comes with such safety features, Suzuki could have at least made one for the driver. The only safety kit it has are the three-pointed seatbelts with pre-tensioners.
So the Suzuki Carry may be tiny and not as big against the likes of the L300, H-100 and K2500. But thanks to its simple, no non-sense construction and rugged capability, it can punch above its weight when it comes to moving and carrying goods. A similarly-sized turbo-diesel engine may be more suited to fit the needs of the Carry, but it will kick up the price, as well as push the maintenance costs compared to a gasoline-powered engine. And since its engine is derived from the Ertiga and Jimny, it may have similar parts availability too.
If you’re in the market for a small yet tough commercial vehicle, the Suzuki Carry can fit that need all at a low price of just Php 509,000. And should you want it cheaper, there is the Cab and Chassis version which only sells for Php 499,000.