1989 Suzuki Santana 970cc petrol from UK and Ireland
Expensive fun - while it lasted!
Thermostat was stuck from new.
Steering had too much play.
Oil filter came loose.
Engine seized at 93000 miles.
Carb iced up in cold weather.
Clutch cable broke.
I bought this wee jeep for a winter runaround, being far too cold for riding a motorcycle, I've always owned Suzuki bikes and been impressed by their durability, as the jeep had been restored a couple of years ago I was expecting reliable service for at least a year, unfortunately I was wrong!
The first thing I noticed was the whining gearbox, but I was prepared to live with it as they have been known to whine for years without failing, the second thing I noticed was that the engine was barely getting warm, a new thermostat soon cured that fault and I was set for the winter, bring it on!
Unfortunately the jeep didn't like cold, damp mornings, the carb would ice despite the engine having warmed up, let the engine drop below 2000 rpm and it would stop dead, on cold, dry mornings it was fine, on wet, warn mornings it was fine, but cold and damp stopped it in its tracks!
The oil filter decided to start leaking about this time, a new one was screwed on and all was fine, indeed the SJ was driven up into the mourne mountains, up a rocky path that a Land-Rover would baulk at, it really was supreme off road, quite unstoppable.
On-road, things were not so good, the severe lack of power and brick like aerodynamics made maximum cruising speed about 45 mph, maximum when new was 64, I had 60 on the clock once, an experience I did not wish to repeat, due to the incredibly vague steering, and back breaking ride, hills were a nightmare, reducing speed to little more than 25 mph, while irate drivers queued behind you.
Fuel consumption was equally horrendous, in fact it used more fuel than a 2800 Shogun, I thought something was amiss until I read the official mpg figures, it seems that it was fine, but the lack of performance was woeful for the fuel it used.
The end came one evening when the motor seized solid, it had always been a bit tappety, but it just died, no warning lights, it was full of oil and water, but it just quit without any warning, I jump started it a few days later and it sounded like there was a road drill inside the engine, so it was laid to rest for good.
I actually enjoyed driving the jeep though, it had character, and it was brilliant in the rough, but I'd love to try the Turbo Diesel version still made in Spain.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 19th May, 2006