Anyone would be sceptical about the Super Carry’s remarkably small 0.8L two-cylinder diesel, even with its output boosted to 32hp / 75Nm by an inter-cooled turbocharger. As compact as it is, the Suzuki micro-truck can still weigh 1600kg when loaded. That’s over a ton and half that needs pushing. Is a 32hp diesel really enough of a powerplant? We we’re sceptical too, but that was before we took her down the Tagaytay-Talisay road with a six passenger loadout … and brought her back up again. Repeat: brought her back up again.

The Tagaytay-Talisay road brings vehicles from mountain down to lakeside in just 15 minutes, that’s how severe its grades are, and it offers the option of not having to go back up and through Tagaytay to get back to Manila. There’s the option of going through Talisay and on through to the Star tollway for a flat return trip. That flatlands fallback wasn’t necessary, though, not on the surprising Super Carry.

Going back up to Tagaytay

With a diesel’s long stroke leverage, the small engine’s torque was always there, pushing the Super Carry with a six-passenger half-load. There were inevitable stints in first gear, speed topping out at 20km/h whenever steep grades robbed us of momentum, but the Super Carry would climb relentlessly, bringing us back to Tagaytay’s altitude with just a few minutes more than it would have taken a sedan with a perky powerplant.

And, while heading back north to Manila, the Super Carry showed that its dinky diesel is powerful enough to merit holding back on the flats. The micro-truck’s accelerator pedal is a drive-by-wire affair with a built-in speed governor. Although stomping on the pedal in either 4th or 5th gear brings healthy acceleration that feels like it could bring you to 90 or 100km/h, respectively, the speed governor steps in to close the throttle back up to maintain a 86~88km/h maximum (actually 80km/h as monitored by GPS tracking).

The Super Carry’s drive-by-wire accelerator module

Clearly, the Super Carry’s small turbodiesel is powerful enough to take Tagaytay from Talisay (even Baguio through Kennon, for that matter) and to merit speed-governing for the sake of safety and of efficiency (magic words in fleet managers’ ears). If not for anything else, the speed governor that’s backhanded proof of the small diesel’s sufficiency also brings cruise-control convenience: step on the pedal as hard as you like, the throttle will still open up just enough to maintain a max-conserve and radar-safe speed of 80km/h.