In most cases, automakers prefer to whisper about their base models, keeping these low-spec, low-margin models around as a way to advertise an aggressive starting price. Remember when Volkswagen advertised the 2011 Jetta for less than $15,000? Yeah, that thing didn’t have cruise control, and was largely hypothetical. However, the Japanese-market Suzuki Spacia Base takes a very different approach by announcing its status loud and proud, with emblems and distinct appearance bits, and black trim in the tradition of base models gone by. Needless to say, this is very weird. Could you imagine a fleet-spec Corolla with “BASE” written out on its trunk in all-caps? In America, base models aren’t typically celebrated, so Suzuki’s approach with this JDM van feels fresh, unusual, and thoroughly intriguing.
Confusingly, the Suzuki Spacia “Base” isn’t the least-expensive Spacia model, but it ties for the least-expensive Spacia model with advanced driver assistance systems. While that does make it base-ish, might Suzuki mean something other than basic with the name of this generally honest kei van?
So, what do you get for your 1,394,800 Japanese Yen ($9,350-ish)? Well, you get the front clip off the Spacia Custom with a unique black grille, black steel wheels with black dog dish hubcaps, black door handles, a big badge on the liftgate that says “BASE,” a shelf, a lack of rear quarter windows, and a cut-down rear jumpseat in place of the standard model’s rear bench. Those last three details should tell you everything you need to know — The Suzuki Spacia Base is a utilitarian dual-purpose kei van aimed at small business owners, weekend adventurers, and everyone seeking more cargo flexibility than outright passenger space.
See, the cut-down seat and the included shelf allow Spacia Base owners to turn their entire vehicle into a mobile office. Fold down the jumpseat to use as a rear-facing bench, pop the liftgate, plug in your laptop, and suddenly, you can work from your kei van with a proper desk and everything. The Ford F-150’s work table center console doesn’t have shit on this, folks. Oh, and that’s not the only thing the shelf can do. It can be locked in a low position for a completely flat floor that’s perfect for camping with bonus stowage below, placed in a middle position for selling goods at fairs and whatnot, and even turned vertical to keep cargo and friends separate, as seen in this photo below.
As you learn more about this little thing’s capabilities, you get the distinct impression that the Suzuki Spacia Base isn’t a base model, but rather a mobile base for digital nomads, peddlers of arugula, and people in between. Taking the concept of the car as a third space and running with it, this little kei van is a cheap and cheerful way of living life outside of a box in the sky. The fact that it happens to tie the standard Spacia Hybrid G for the cheapest trim with ADAS might just be a happy accident.
It is rare to see a “Base” trim. In 1993, the Jeep Grand Cherokee came as a “Base” model, and then immediately in 1993 Jeep changed the name to SE. A similar thing happened with the Ford Bronco Sport. Back in 2021, these were the trims:
That’s right. It was called the “Bronco Sport Base.” At the time, I thought for sure Ford would change the name; “Base” isn’t very sexy, after all. And indeed, before you knew it, Base was gone:
We need to give more love to Base models. They’re honest! -DT].
(Photo credits: Suzuki)
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