The new Suzuki Jimny has only just been released in Australia, but it’s the latest in a long line of compact Suzuki four-wheel drives that can trace their history back to the LJ10 of 1970, and even earlier to when the company acquired Hope Motor Company, producer of a light four-wheel drive called the HopeStar ON360.
This fourth-generation Jimny sees the diminutive vehicle, an example of Japan’s ‘kei’ class (or ‘light automobile’), integrate a rugged part-time four-wheel drive driveline, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, with a host of up-to-the-minute technologies and features.
The tech includes a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with factory satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming, hands-free telephony with voice commands, and LED lighting, while standard safety features now include autonomous emergency braking (AEB), hill hold assist, lane departure warning, stability control, antilock brakes and switchable traction control.
Why you should buy it?
The Suzuki Jimny holds significant appeal for solo drivers or couples hunting for a characterful compact SUV with genuine four-wheel drive ability at a budget-friendly price. With its boxy lines and diminutive dimensions, it turns heads and provokes smiles wherever it goes, yet for its size and price the Jimny is surprisingly well-equipped in terms of features.
It’s also well-equipped to handle some rough stuff, with the driveline offering two-wheel drive along with four-wheel drive with both high and low-range gearing. The Jimny can switch from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive (high range) on the fly, while – like most similar systems – it can only be switched to low range from a standstill with the transmission in neutral.
While we spent the majority of our time on sealed roads, a daytrip to some local 4WD haunts revealed the little Jimny was well up for some off-road fun. It successfully conquered a rocky and shale-strewn climb up to a 700m peak, and at one point nonchalantly walked its way across a slippery-if-not-excessively-deep creek crossing.
The 75kW/130Nm output is entirely sufficient to get the Jimny’s mass moving, but it requires a heavy right foot and a quick left hand on the five-speed manual ‘box to keep up the revs up and maintain momentum. There’s simply not much poke below 3000rpm, which incidentally is right where the engine will be sitting at a steady 100km/h in top gear.
The Jimny is easy to hop into or out of courtesy of its wide-opening doors and all-round vision is excellent.
In addition to the basics like stability control (with switchable traction control) and antilock brakes, the Jimny also features autonomous emergency braking, brake-force distribution and front, side and curtain airbags. There’s even a lane departure warning system (admittedly with fairly underwhelming visual alerts on the instrument panel) plus a hill holder, along with hill descent control for an extra safety net on tricky off-road descents, and a reversing camera.
The Jimny is so tiny and easy to maneuver that the reversing camera seems far more about pedestrian detection than easier parking.
Who does it appeal to?
For city-based singles and couples with an outdoorsy lifestyle, the Jimny makes sense. It’s a compact, easy-to-drive vehicle that blends funky and functional in equal measure.
Easy to manoever and park in the city, it’s just as happy exploring the bush – and with a few modifications, primarily concerning underbody protection and all-terrain rubber, it’s ready for more action than many may initially suspect.
Where does it fit?
It’s easy to categorise the Suzuki Jimny in relation to the wider auto or even four-wheel drive market – it’s in a class of one!
In a market awash with four-wheel drive SUVs and utes, there’s simply nothing else available new today like the Jimny, and that alone adds to its head-turning appeal.
So, what do we think?
The Suzuki Jimny is a quirky little off-roader with plenty of flaws balanced by plenty of strengths – and we love it! We love its upright, square-edged styling and its thoroughly retro looks, and we love how it offers real off-road ability for a price that will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers.
Suzuki Jimny Specifications
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Fuel: 6.4L/100km (ADR Combined); 7.7L/100km (as tested)
CO2: 146g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Three-star ANCAP (2019)
To find out more on the Suzuki Jimny, contact us on (02) 8545 8888