The new Suzuki Jimny is becoming the must-have accessory for 4x4 cognoscenti and urban hipsters alike. In a world of aerodynamic car shapes, the Jimny winds back the clock with its boxy, retro styling. The chunky design gives this diminutive off-roader a cute, aggressive vibe — kind of like a teddy bear wielding a machine gun. It’s charming the pants off everybody and has long waiting lists in many countries. In South Africa the first two shipments have already sold out.
Under that baby Hummer shape is a vehicle with even better off-roading skills than its iconic forebears, which became known for being able to out-off-road SUVs that cost twice as much. It sticks to the brief set: a compact, lightweight, affordable vehicle with true 4x4 capabilities.
As before, it has all the hardware for hardcore trailblazing, including a sturdy ladder-frame chassis, solid-axle front and rear suspension, and selectable all-wheel drive with high and low range. But with ground clearance raised to 210mm and the addition of a diff lock, along with hill-descent control and hill-start assist, the ’lil SUV has become even more adept at tackling the great outdoors.
For off-road enthusiasts the phrase “entry and departure angles” means everything and the Jimny is particularly well-endowed in this area with its short wheelbase and rock-straddling ride height, keeping its belly well out of harm’s way. It’s become better on tar too, with a more powerful 1.5l petrol engine replacing the wheezy old 1.3l. This tweak has given it enough oomph for some cut-and-thrust urban driving. It also cruises the open road with more pace than its forerunner, and is no longer consigned to the left lane with the trucks and the Tazz drivers.
Suzuki has addressed the space issue by expanding rear legroom by 4cm, which now means adults can fit in the back seat without having to practise their yoga. It’s also 4.5cm wider so that occupants are less likely to bump elbows. The boot is still tiny, but the rear seats flip down to accommodate more exotic shopping expeditions. The chunky dashboard, like the exterior, is a nod to Jimny’s past, and there’s a passenger grab handle.
Jimny is offered in three models: a GA grade selling for R264,900 with a five-speed manual gearbox, and a higher-specced GLX available in five-speed manual (R299,900) or four-speed automatic (R319,900).
A compact and capable off-roader, and a relative bargain too.
- From the December edition of Wanted.