Remember the Delta Mini Cruiser? This is how we imagine it would look like today

Classic!
by Andrew Guerrero | Oct 15, 2021
ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
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Back in the ’70s and early ’80s, the then-official local manufacturer of Toyota vehicles Delta Motors built a shrunken version of the FJ40 called the Delta Mini Cruiser. The little rugged 4x4 was made primarily for the military and government. It would be interesting if Toyota brought back the Mini Cruiser as a civilian mini-SUV to go against the popular Suzuki Jimny. That would be a fun vehicle to revive.

Since Toyota currently doesn’t have any small body-on-frame architecture, we decided to use a modified version of Daihatsu’s subcompact front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive DNGA platform—the same one that underpins the new Toyota Raize SUV. For our modern Mini Cruiser, the wheelbase has been shortened by 254mm to make for a compact 2,271mm. The use of lightweight materials like plastic fenders and an aluminum hood help keep the base curb weight under 1,050kg.

Up front, it retains the DNGA’s independent MacPherson strut suspension, but this has been modified to increase wheel travel. The rear torsion beam suspension of the Raize has been replaced by a five-link solid axle for improved articulation. This Mini Cruiser comes standard with 16-inch styled steel wheels mounted on 205/65 R16 tires with a 26.5-inch diameter.

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Our modern Mini Cruiser is powered by a higher-output version of the 1.0-liter 1KR-VET turbocharged in-line-three gasoline mill, which puts out 105hp and 155Nm of torque. This motor can be paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission with a seven-speed manual shift mode. The SUV gets a standard all-wheel-drive system with a 50:50 torque split lock that can be manually engaged.

Delta Mini Cruiser

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This version of the Mini Cruiser measures 3,670mm long, 1,740mm high, and 1,671mm wide, making it very compact by today’s standards. Instead of going full retro, we gave our Mini Cruiser a modern boxy look with some heritage styling cues mixed in. Like the original Delta, we gave it an FJ40-inspired grille, circular headlights, and a clamshell hood.

Moving on to the sides, it gets angular matte black plastic fender extensions which are easy to replace. The body sides are kept clean with minimal lines. The flush-mounted rear windows and hidden pillars give it a contemporary look. At the back, it features a centrally mounted external spare tire, a design choice made to free up space for the rear differential and exhaust system. The taillights are split into upper square and bumper-mounted circular units.

Inside, it shares its switchgear with the Toyota Raize, while body colored-dashboard panels give it the classic off-roader look. We’ve made this one a four-seater with a 50:50 split-folding rear bench seat.

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This concept was designed to be a sub-P1 million all-wheel-drive mini SUV. The target was to make a moreaffordable, roomier, and comfier alternative to the popular Jimny. Would you consider the Mini Cruiser if it was brought back to life? Let us know in the comments.

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ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
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