Launch report: 2023 Suzuki Eeco

Traversing 850km: Suzuki addresses the shortage of small utility vehicles in Southern Africa

Suzuki South Africa just provided a solution to the growing threat of fewer small utility vehicles being available for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises. These SMEs are vital in stabilising and reducing the unemployment rates within Southern Africa, yet manufacturers are providing less opportunities to purchase small, reliable, and inexpensive utility vehicles under the R200 000 mark; ultimately forcing these businesses to purchase expensive, larger (than required), or SUV-converted vehicles.

Luckily, Suzuki saw this gap in the market and came up with a practical and cost-effective solution.

We recently covered 850km of highway, gravel, and pothole-strewn surfaces to not only provide much needed school supplies to rural communities within KwaZulu-Natal, but to also put the new Eeco through its paces.

What is it?

One of several new Suzuki models for 2023, the Eeco joins the market purely as a utility offering. Only one model will be available at this time, so there is no people carrier version available as this segment is already very competitive.

At a claimed 5.4 litres /100km, the name “Eeco” fits this vehicle perfectly. This is thanks to the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated K12 petrol engine, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. While this results in a revolution-happy drive, Suzuki’s engines are known to produce great efficiency and reliability, even when the engine note tends to be high.

What about the competition?

Which competition? As mentioned earlier, most manufacturers have pulled their half-ton “bakkies” from the market, with the last available small bakkie now also seemingly on its way out.

The other alternatives come in the form of entry-level hatchbacks or small family SUVs which have been converted into utility vehicles. Not only are they above the R200 000 price point, but these vehicles are generally impractical when loading large items. Additionally, the Eeco now enters the segment as the only (just over) half-ton utility vehicle with sliding doors.

For us, the Eeco is much more practical than a one- or half-ton bakkie, as tall items can easily be stored within an enclosed space, without the need to purchase a security top or canopy. This is due to the load compartment on its own, being 1 620mm long, 1 300mm wide, and 1 070mm high. The Eeco can carry a total load of 615kg.

What is it like to drive?

Considering the thin air at an altitude of 1 500m above sea level, two occupants, and our #RallyToRead deliveries, we still managed to keep to the highway speed limit. True to most Suzuki models, the Eeco also has a very short turning radius of only 4.5 meters. This made it considerably easy to maneuver our way back onto the open roads, once deliveries were completed at the respective schools.

The Eeco even did well to glide over gravel and around the pothole-strewn sections of rural KwaZulu-Natal. This was largely thanks to its 160mm ground clearance. The 32-litre fuel tank also held up well, considering that the 300km highway sections at a time, only saw half of the tank being consumed. We are eager to see what the Eeco will do at sea level!

The cabin has been fitted with comfortable seats, which kept us away from aching bones, whilst covering 300km at a time at some stages.

The steering wheel compartment is also fitted with a digital speedometer cluster display. Additionally, the centre console is also radio-ready, while 12-volt sockets have been fitted rather than USB ports. The reason for this decision is that 12V points are much more versatile than USB points; a practical decision from Suzuki’s side, considering that this is a utility vehicle.

Furthermore, the vehicle also features an antenna and two speakers.

What about safety?

Whilst the Eeco was launched in India a considerable time ago, the new edition comes to Southern-Africa with a whole bunch of new safety features.

Southern-African Eeco models are sold with an airbag for each occupant, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), as well as electronic stability control (ESP). The Eeco also comes with side-impact steel beams in the front doors and three-point retracting seatbelts.

More impressively, the Eeco comes with rear parking sensors, anti-theft immobiliser, as well as a high mounted stop lamp.

All about practicality

Practicality and simplicity are the design motives of the Eeco. As a business vehicle it is a true cost saver. With no turbo, or expensive electrical components, the Eeco is easy and cheap to own and maintain. Partner this with low fuel costs, low insurance costs, plus the fact that the Eeco is only sold in white; which makes for quick and easy repairs.

In India, the Eeco already sold nearly a million units since its inception. Given the price point of R199 900 (including VAT) and a 3-year / 100 000km mechanical warranty, we think this van will certainly reflect similar success in the Southern-African markets. 

3 thoughts on “Launch report: 2023 Suzuki Eeco”

  1. Really, I like this car and the features are better than the previous one.
    So How can I get in Ethiopia

  2. I like it for my farming, dealing with vegetables like spinach, cabbage, beetroot etc. I’m a growing farmer i would like to have it.

  3. Be careful when you buy this Eeco van because of cheap and short length seat belt. If you are above 100 kg the seat belts cannot be clamped down due to short length and your life is in danger.


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