Suzuki Jimny launch impressions
No-nonsense new Jimny.
The compact SUV market is dominated by soft-roader and cross-over style vehicles. And then there’s the tough little Suzuki Jimny, that traces its 4WD heritage back more than 40 years through generations including the Sierra and L J 80, to the original 550cc L J 50.
The latest Jimny, an entirely new model, remains almost unique in this segment, offering true off-road ability thanks to design features including a low-range transfer case, a ladder frame chassis, impressive ground-clearance angles, and rigid three-link coil-sprung front and rear axles.
The body is wider and has been restyled but retains a boxy, rugged and no-nonsense look that echoes its predecessors. Underneath, there’s a stiffer and stronger chassis with additional rear and centrally placed X-shape cross-members, revised body to frame mounts to improve comfort and reduce NVH, strengthened axle housings, a larger diameter front sway bar, and a lighter high-impact resin fuel tank instead of the previous sheet metal unit.
Wheelbase remains unchanged, while turning circle is handy for tight off-road manoeuvres at 9.8 metres. Clearance angles are impressive at 37deg approach, 49deg departure, 28deg ramp-over and increased ground clearance of 210mm.
The interior has come in for attention with improved versatility and practical touches, plus additional leg space. It’s also more comfortable and looking a little more up to date, though still rather spartan compared to competitors.
A 7-inch Bosch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation is now standard. Safety and driver assistance features are boosted with six airbags and ESC standard, plus autonomous emergency braking (Suzuki call it dual sensor brake support), emergency stop signal, hill-hold control, hill descent control, high beam assist, lane-departure warning and lane-weave alert all standard.
Jimny sports a new, larger capacity 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering more power and torque than the previous 1.3-litre engine. Transmission choices are either a five-speed manual ($23,990 plus on roads) or four-speed auto ($25,990 plus on roads). The new model initially comes to market in a single specification, the GLX, though a lower-spec GL model is scheduled for an unspecified future date.
The brief launch drive program showed on-road manners and refinement to be superior to its predecessor, but still falling short of most of the compact SUV class. But Jimny is still a force in tough and challenging off-road going, and that’s its trump card and what will attract buyers.