If there's one thing Suzuki does better than anyone else, it's making tiny 4x4 off-roaders that combine that very tricky combination of cute and tough. They've done it again at the Geneva Auto Show, with a little white 4x4 concept called the iM-4. It's cute and white, like a baby polar bear, and like a baby polar bear, it might maul you.

The iM-4 uses a 'mild hybrid system' that incorporates an 'ISG' — an integrated starter-generator.' Those of you who drive old bubble cars may find combining the starter and generator oddly familiar, but here it allows one unit to start the car, charge some Li-ion batteries, and provide power assistance. Clever!

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The conventional side of the engine is Suzuki's 1.2 DualJet engine, and all this is on their 'new-generation' platform.

But this is a concept, so we're really just looking at some hints of styling to come, and it's pretty great. The press release, of course, is full of predictably inane descriptions of things, though. Like:

  • Sunglass-like front grille and headlamp design coupled with the headlamps' inner architecture and helmet-like roof give the car a lovable appearance.

You know, the way you find anyone in sunglasses and a helmet lovable! Though, to be fair, I don't think they're wrong. The iM-4 does look plucky, cute, rugged, and fun, and that's a great combination.

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The proportions are taught and boxy, in a good way, and there's an angled motif to the creases and cut lines that feels modern and techy. The C-pillar is especially nice, with a reverse-rake shape and a set of three slits that clearly evokes one of my favorite Suzukis of the past, the WhizzKid.

I like the design a lot. It feels like a modernized Jimny or Samauri hardtop, and the small, fun 4x4/mini-SUV market I feel like is one that may be due for a comeback, with interesting cars like the Renegade already out and concepts like the Kia Trail'ster getting attention.

The press release has some more good eye rolling lines, too. Like this wildly overblown way to describe things as straight and rectangular:

  • Straight, architectonic lines of the shoulder and glass areas communicate beauty and precision, as does the rectangular motif repeated in features such as the front and rear lower grilles, door mirrors and handles, headlamps, and rear combination lamps.

And, look at how you can talk about a white car:

  • Innocent White body colour, which expresses modernity, and a clean appearance that stirs the viewer's imagination.

It's white, Suzuki. It looks good in white, I get it. But you know, get a grip. Also, I'm not sure about the name. The cute look and toddler-like proportions sort of make me read it as a toddler saying "I'm four!" Maybe that's because I have a toddler who is four who likes to remind me of that.

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Overall, a production version of this would make a great competitor to the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500x, and even the Honda HR-V, maybe. This is the kind of car Suzuki has always done best, and if they're ever going to make any kind of comeback in the US, I think it'd be via a car like this.

Good luck!