In the automotive world there are specific vehicles that have no equal. The Suzuki Jimny is one of them.
The Jimny? That diminutive, unintimidating three-door 4×4 with just a 1,5-litre four-cylinder engine? Surely there are other 4x4s that could teach this little mite how it’s done?
There are, sure – but at R299 900 for this GLX manual model, you have to almost double the price point to find them. You will find 4×4 or all-wheel drive vehicles only slightly north of the Jimny’s price point but, here me now, they will not touch it when the going gets tough. Or when it doesn’t…
You see, the Jimny’s forte has always been its dynamite-in-a-small-package off-road prowess, which meant that it was always a little compromised as an on-road, everyday vehicle – where, let’s be honest, most were always bound to clock up the majority of their mileage. Now, Suzuki has ensured the Jimny well and truly has both bases covered.
Thanks to measures such as a strengthened ladder-frame chassis, revised rubber mounts designed to increase both comfort and handling, a steering damper and 40-mm wider front and rear tracks, the new Jimny is vastly more comfortable, stable and refined on road than one would expect of such a vehicle.
In fact, that goes for its off-road ability, too. I was lucky enough to be able to take the new and previous Jimny to the challenging Hennops Off-Road Trail and was awestruck at the way the new Jimny scampered over boulders, through divots, across deep water and thick mud, up or downhill…
This is largely due to its 210-mm ground clearance and virtually non-existent front and rear overhangs. Approach, departure and breakover angles (37, 49 and 28 degrees respectively) are all improved, meaning it clears obstacles with ease. Thanks to the fitment of black plastic bumpers, wheel arches and sill extensions, the odd bump or scrape can be worn as a badge of honour.
Under the skin, Suzuki’s All-Grip Pro four-wheel drive-system incorporates a low-range transfer gear with modern electronics to get past any obstacle. Suzuki’s Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control work together with Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control to ensure the Jimny’s power gets to where it needs to go. As modern 4x4s go, the system may seem simple – but do not be fooled…
Speaking of power, under that squared-off bonnet is a new 1,5-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. While 75 kW at 6 000 r/min and 130 Nm at 4 000 r/min don’t sound like much, it’s the way this power is sent to the wheels that counts… There truly is enough grunt and the engine revs out smoothly (a good thing, considering the lack of low-down torque), sending its shove through a close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox that has a delightfully positive throw and engagement.
Suzuki claims that the combined-cycle fuel consumption for this model is 6,3 l/100 km and I managed a still-respectable 8,0 (a figure skewed slightly by a day of first- and second-gear off-roading at Hennops).
As a daily driver, Suzuki has made sure the Jimny is easy to live with and offers a substantial amount of kit. The interior design combines retro and modern elements into an overall rugged theme. Hardy, sturdy, high-quality materials abound and there’s a bunch more all-round passenger room than before. Although the seats are flat, they’re comfortable, and thanks to the large, upright windows, visibility is excellent (yet another advantage when off road…).
You’ll not want for equipment. Notable convenience features include a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, powerful automatic LED headlamps (with handy headlamp washers), front fog lamps, electronic climate control, powered windows and mirrors, cruise control and a leather-covered steering wheel. On the safety front, dual front airbags combine with Electronic Stability Program and anti-lock brakes with brake assist.
Unfortunately, as great as the Jimny is, it’s not perfect. The biggest drawback is that there is virtually no luggage space. With the additional rear occupant space, the luggage compartment has been reduced to a mere sliver of an area barely wide enough to fit a couple of backpacks. You can lower the rear seatbacks, however, this will leave your items even more exposed (there’s no luggage area cover).
Similarly, Suzuki could’ve extended the centre console between the seats for more oddment storage, and widened the door pockets. Also, while the flat, upright windows are a boon during the day, you’ll have to get used to being surrounded by reflections on them at night. Day-to-day practicality is, therefore, still a little compromised.
But, really, who cares? The new Jimny is a rugged, boxy, retro-themed 4×4 that’s as beguiling as ever with even more all-round capability than one would expect of it. As an immensely capable off roader that’s packed with character, comfortable, well equipped and drivable every day, there’s nothing else to touch it.
Suzuki sells the Jimny GLX with a four-year/60 000 km service plan and a five-year/200 000 km mechanical warranty.
CyberStoep rating: 8/10