Popular Science

April 1971


"The BRUTE: 2-Cycle Engine With 4-Wheel Drive".

Suzuki is well known for their motorcycle line, but many people don't realize they also build four-wheel vehicles. One is the four-wheel-drive Brute IV, recently introduced in the United States. This lightweight, Jeep-like machine could prove to be one of the most popular off-road recreational vehicles to come along for some time. It's size is about half that of the conventional four-wheel-drive vehicles and it weighs only 1,320 pounds. Power comes from a 2-stroke, two-cylinder, air-cooled Suzuki engine. It has a deceptive displacement of only 359cc, and produces 25 horsepower.

    Like most modern two-stroke engines, the Brute has a separate 3.7 quart oil tank and a system of metering oil to the engine (Suzuki Posi-force). On the spartan instrument panel there's an oil light that is always on. As the quantity of oil decreases, it glows brighter. When it gets really bright, you add more oil. Starting is remarkably easy, even in cold, wet weather. Pull the choke out, stay off the accelerator, and turn the key. It works every time. If, after trying the Brute, you want more power, there's an optional bolt on kit that provides an extra six horsepower. Big deal you say. It is, for that six horsepower is almost a 25-percent increase.

     The Brute's all-synchromesh transmission gives you 12 speeds forward and two in reverse. There's the normal "street" gearbox, good for about 55 mph. Behind the primary shifter is a stubby little lever to control the four-wheel drive. It has a high and low range. High range is good for general off-road cruising; it has a 45 mph top speed.

    If things get a little rougher, pull it back into low range. This is your permit to climb mountains, although the top speed through the gears is cut in half. Shifting up or down is smooth and trouble-free in street gear or four-wheel-drive.

    Suspension is by front and rear leaf springs. It's firm, but not bone-breaking. Although the lowest point of the Brute is only 8.5 inches above the ground, the light, air-cooled engine and other vital parts are well out of danger. This type of engine can be set high in the vehicle and does not need a radiator.

    Brute's interior is well done but simple: Gauges consist of a speedometer, which goes to a optimistic 80 mph, an odometer, and a fuel gauge. Also, there are oil and generator lights, and knobs for the choke, wipers, and lights. A locking glove box and a catch-all shelf is on the passenger's side.

    Several rubber plugs are provided for easy draining of water. (A hose is the easiest way to clean it.) All Brute's will have right-hand drive until demand warrants a changeover to left-hand drive.

    While highway cruising isn't one of the Brute's strong points-and it's not intended to be-the vehicle excels once you get it off road. High-gear range is great for back trails, running over hill and dale, and general fun. With the quick four-speed gearbox there are few places you can't go. When things get really rough slip into the low range. It makes you virtually unstoppable.

    Standard tires are 6.00-16 "Jeep" type. An optional wide rim/wheel combination is really effective, but the things extend past the body work and will throw a dirt clod at you if the opportunity arises. An extension of the fenders might be a useful add-on for owners.

    Suzuki's Brute should find an enthusiastic home in America. It's well made, practical, and-at a base price of $2,195-Should be hard to beat. PS