If you want the perfect combination of off-roading capability along with a great ride on the road too, the reasonably priced Jimny could be right up your street. It certainly puts the fun factor back into motoring.
The goodGood value for money
The badNot much space in the back
Suzuki Jimny 1.3 87bhp SZ4 manual (Off-roading)
Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that back-to-basics motoring can be great fun and that nudge came recently when we had the opportunity to throw a Suzuki Jimny around an off-road course.
Of course, Suzuki’s popularity has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and now the Japanese manufacturer’s cars come fitted with some excellent off-roading systems that are highly effective but also very reasonably priced.
Suzuki’s extra traction systems are known as Allgrip and it comes in three formats. Firstly, Allgrip Auto which is available on the Suzuki Ignis and Swift models. This lightweight system is quite simplistic and relatively inexpensive to produce making it ideal for the company’s smaller cars adding just £1,000 to their starting price.
The second system is called Allgrip Select and it is available on the Vitara and S-Cross models. Costing an extra £1,850, it offers four driver-selectable modes called Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock.
But we are concentrating on Suzuki’s final system, which can be found as standard on the Jimny and is called Allgrip PRO. This is for the genuine off-roader of the company’s range and offers push button selectable four-wheel drive along with high and low gear ratios.
Jimny is pretty unique and has quite a following with an ultra loyal fanbase. In fact, Suzuki happily states that no matter how much advertising or promoting the model is given, it always sells 1,000 units each and every year – no more, no less. And that’s because there is nothing else quite like it.
Admittedly, it will not be to everyone’s liking but Suzuki does have a little gem of a car in the Jimny. It’s very happy being driven on public roads, but even more content when it can venture off the beaten track. And the other added incentive is the asking price because the Jimny line-up starts from just £12,999.
Our test car was the range-topping SZ4 with 5-speed manual gearbox costing £14,299. Powered by a tiny 1.3-litre 85bhp petrol engine, the Jimny can reach from 0-62mph in 14,1 seconds and maxes out at just 87mph. It can deliver combined fuel economy of 39.8mpg with carbon emissions of 162g/km.
Now, those are not exactly figures to make you sit up and listen. But, and it’s a very big but, the Jimny is a go-anywhere car that can take on any 4×4 course for fun.
It boasts 190mm ground clearance, approach and departure angles of 34 degrees and 46 degrees respectively and ramp angle of 31 degrees. It also features a low ratio gearbox and that means this lightweight, yet perfectly formed little car can skip across the wet grass, climb over rocks and sharp debris, wade through streams, avoid getting bogged down in thick mud and scamper up steep inclines for fun. And at the end of all that it is still willing and able to do it all again.
Okay, so creature comforts are at a minimum with no sign of a sat nav system, but you do get a radio and the guarantee that the Jimny will make you smile.
So it’s easy to see why the two-door, four-seater has reached almost cult status and now boasts global sales of 2.9 million and is sold in 188 countries. Long may it continue.
Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4
The Suzuki Jimny has a well-established and very loyal fanbase with global sales in excess of 2.7 million since its launch back in 1970 … and it still shows no signs of letting up!
So what is it that makes this two-door, four-seater such an attractive option to the masses? After all, it’s not exactly the greatest looking model you’ll ever lay eyes on and the performance stats leave quite a lot to be desired with a 0-62mph sprint time of 14.1 seconds and a top speed of just 87mph. But it’s all about the all-round package that really attracts the buyers.
Firstly, the Jimny is a genuine off-roader with push button selectable four wheel drive along with high and low gear ratios. Then there is the very reasonable price-tag of £13,295 (£13,725 with extras) for the 1.3-litre SZ4 model that I tested which is competitively priced for a vehicle featuring 15-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, a body-coloured hard spare wheel cover on the side hinged back door, roof rails, a CD player, air conditioning, electric front windows, power steering and plenty more besides.
It’s a fair observation that the Jimny does rather lack some of the refinement expected in many modern-day vehicles, but it does have a winning personality that grows on you the longer you spend behind the wheel.
The driver benefits from an elevated driving position which means excellent all-round visibility but the Jimny has quite narrow dimensions and that means the driver’s right arm does sit fairly snug against the door (very similar to the position in a Land Rover Defender), but once again this actually adds to the car’s quirky charm.
And its dinky dimensions do mean the car is easily manoeuvred which makes it really practical when negotiating busy city centres with cars and pedestrians appearing from all angles.
Out on the open road, the Jimny takes a little while to pick up speed, but it can easily keep pace with fast-moving motorway traffic as it moves through the five-speed manual gearbox. The 1.3-litre 85PS petrol engine is a tad noisy, but isn’t that what a car’s sound system is for at the end of the day!
You can also expect to feel the odd bump or two, but when your neighbours are stuck digging the snow from their driveways come the winter time, you’ll be the envy of the lot of them with their £30k-plus saloons and soft roaders. That’s because the Jimny can take on the rough stuff and it comes out the other side totally unscathed.
In fact, despite being a little noisy and slow off the mark, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the car – the only downside was the really fiddly stereo with buttons that take an age to fathom out. For example, it took me 20 minutes to correct the clock.
The official economy figure is okay at a combined 39.8mpg with carbon emissions of 162g/km. Clearly there are better equipped and more frugal options out there, but they do come at a much heftier cost.
All in all, the Jimny is fun and funky and with its comprehensive range of safety features is a rough and ready, tough little car which is very big on personality.