The Jimny was better known outside Australia and was introduced to replace the better-known Sierra. There was an earlier version in the 1970s, but the namesake was short-lived. Like most Suzukis of this size, the Jimny is fairly lightweight though well built and took on its hatchback competition with decent performance – at a price designed to attract buyers.
The JX variant is fairly basic in its build and spec levels, but the JLX comes with an impressive list of equipment, which includes electric windows, power steering, and central locking. Air-conditioning comes as standard in both variants.
Suzuki tinkered with its lightweight 1.3L aluminium engine, which has a fuel-injection system designed just for the Jimny. The carmaker says the Jimny has a max power of 59kW at 6000rpm and its claimed max torque is 104Nm at 4500rpm. The engine will speed from 0-100km/h in 18 long seconds. The car itself is quite light, so there’s no real reason for such a long acceleration time.
The real attraction for the Jimny is its off-road capability. Drivers can engage the four-wheel drive while the car is in motion, though to engage the lower gears, the car has to be stationary and the gear stick placed in neutral.
Off-road performance is quite impressive, though you’ll find the 1.3L engine woefully underpowered on steep hills. Around town, the car is sprightly and fun to drive as well as frugal with fuel.
Suzuki’s designers aimed their vehicle at young buyers, and the design was eye-catching for the time.
One of the complaints about the Jimny is that it has a harsh ride, mainly due to the suspension system. Opt for the manual version since the automatic transmissions can be sluggish in comparison.
The interior is fairly small, but Suzuki designs interiors well and there’s plenty of storage to be had. Unlike other Suzuki cars, this one has plenty of room for all occupants, especially in the rear.
The boot size is also small, though the rear seats will fold flat to create more, if you don’t have anyone sitting in the rear seats. To help compensate for the small boot, the Jimny has useful roof bars, which will hold another 30kg of luggage.
Essentially, the Jimny is a compromise car. It works fairly well in cities as a hatchback and is fun to drive but you can also take it off road too. Just be careful about just how far off road that is .The car looks good and is a workhorse for everyday use and for weekend leisure activities. What it lacks in refinement and equipment, it more than makes up for in charm.
It’s only 3.6 metres long, which is tiny compared to most off-roaders. To help its off-road credentials, the Jimny has plastic panels on its under-body, so scratches don’t cause too much damage. Hit something more substantial and the dent should simply ‘pop’ back out.
The car is also quite narrow so that restricts the amount of equipment that can be squeezed in. The lack of steering column adjustment will annoy some drivers. The seating position is high and gives a good view of the road – though it gives a better view when the vehicle is taken off road.
Like most Suzukis, it is fairly light so it’s nippy around the city and agile enough off road, helping to make up for the engine size. To help its off-road capabilities, the Jimny sits on top of a ladder-frame chassis and has a well-designed suspension.To be fair, the Jimny’s interior is geared more for off-road use than for city driving; the use of plastic coverings makes it easy to clean. It comes with the bare essentials, though these include front airbags, ABS, and seat belt pretensioners.
If you need to know how good the Jimny is off road, appreciate the fact that farmers in Queensland realised this little beauty was excellent on paddocks where bigger cars, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, would simply sink.
It would be unfair to compare the Jimny to its bigger off-road competitors but it acquits itself well – and it compares well with hatchbacks. Remember, not many hatchbacks would be able to compete off road, and that is perhaps the real beauty of the Suzuki Jimny.