After an eternity, Suzuki has finally delivered a new generation Jimny tiddler size “fourbie.” Unlike pretend fourbie SUVs, Jimny is the real deal offering high and low range 4WD, 2WD (rear wheels) and a proper transfer case drivetrain in manual and auto.
It’s also built on a ladder chassis just like the old days and has proper rigid axles front and rear with coil springs.
Suzuki started selling pint size 4WDs here almost half a century ago. The first was called LJ50 and came with a 2-stroke, three cylinder engine that went well but smelled bad. It sold up a storm and heralded the Suzuki Sierra which lasted a couple of decades before being replaced by Jimny.
Wish they’d kept the Sierra name…
Anyhow, new Jimny is a throwback in styling looking like a real square-set “Jeep” but more like the first Mitsubishi Pajero three door sold here.
It’s a little box on wheels and has immense charm and practicality as a result.
But despite some advanced driver assist features including autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist, a 3-star ANCAP crash rating could be problematic for Jimny.
It wouldn’t stop me from owning one.
Like I said, it looks a lot like a scaled down Jeep Wrangler only cuter with a clamshell bonnet, flat roof and square sides. The roof even has drip rails like the old days but they’re handy to stop water running off the roof onto your head.
The heritage look is accentuated by tail lights incorporated into the bumper and wheel arch flares to stop mud and sand flicking up on the car’s sides. A side sill under the doors aids this.
Suzuki fits new Jimny with a set of fairly boring looking 15-inch alloys but you could fix that with a set of Sunraysias for not much money.
Two tone paint is an option but personally, I would make the spend just for gains in appearance. The green body/black roof stands out like a sore thumb.
The styling has practical benefits because it makes Jimny easy to get into and especially easy to park in ever shrinking parking spaces.
Like outside, Jimny’s inside puts a focus on practicality and is pretty much a hose out job if you remove the carpets.
Apart from splashes of exterior colour inside, hard wearing dark plastic prevails on the dash and most of the squared off interior.
The main dash has a decent size 7-inch info/control screen in the middle and there’s another square pod in front of the driver for instruments.
Four large vents are let into the dash for climate control aircon’.
The Suzuki Jimny’s chunky wheel is lifted from other Suzuki models and comes with a number of ancillary controls.
There’s an integrated passenger grab rail in the dash and the four seats provided are a reasonable size but there’s precious little luggage room down the back with seats up.
Not much to say about the upholstery _ some kind of serviceable fabric that’s in keeping with the car’s purpose – getting wet, sandy, dusty and dirty (allegedly).
Like other recent additions to the Suzuki range, Jimny has been cleverly featured to include enough desirable kit to make you happy.
- Smartphone streaming
- Climate control
- Reversing camera
- Cruise control
- LED headlights
- Alloys (15-inch)
- High beam assist
- Hill descent control
- Fog lights
Drive and Engine
I am in two minds about this aspect of Jimny. Off road it’s a cracker and will go virtually anywhere within reason. The selectable 4WD (up to 100kmh), compact dimensions and rigid axles with coil springs take care of that.
On the highway it’s OK spoiled by the lane keeping assist that feels like you’re the ball in a pinball machine.
Turn it off and pay attention is my advice.
The short wheelbase makes Jimny a touch twitchy but not to the point of being annoying.
Handling is compromised by too much body roll but that’s the price you pay for off road capability.
No complaints about the steering or disc/drum brakes though it should be discs all round in the 21 century.
The 1.5 litre, twin cam, petrol engine spins at around 3300rpm at the legal highway limit and could do with an extra cog on both 5-speed manual and probably on the 4-speed auto too. It’s rated at 75kW/130Nm which is sufficient for pushing Jimny manual’s 1075kg bulk.
Around town, Jimny has enough pep to keep out of trouble.
As expected, ride quality is supple and tyre grip is good in the wet and dry.
Only gets a 3-star ANCAP rating which is disappointing given multiple air bags and the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and a reverse camera. It was penalised for a lack of pedestrian protection, scored OK for frontal impact and misses out other stuff like blind spot warning (thought that was what rear view mirrors were for).
As I said the three star rating wouldn’t stop me from buying one.
- Impressive off road
- Cheap to run
- Made in Japan
- Proper selectable 4WD with high and low range
- Satisfactory amount of standard equipment
- Looks cute
- Ladder chassis
Not So Good Bits
- Worst audio in any new car sold here
- Minimal load space in “boot”
- Body roll
- Annoying lane keeping assist
- Drum rear brakes
- Safety rating
After buzzing around in the Jimny manual for a week I came to like it… a lot. It makes an excellent city runabout and is cheap on fuel. Then you can take it on weekend expeditions to the beach or anywhere.
I like the looks too especially with two tone paint and the amount of standard equipment is generous for the price. There’s nothing remotely like it on the market.
Facts and Figures: 2019 Suzuki Jimny manual
- Engine: 1.5L four-cylinder petrol producing 75kW/130Nm
- Transmission: Five-speed manual
- Warranty: 3 years/ 100,000km
- Safety: Three stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $23,990