The all-new fourth generation Suzuki Jimny is a fabulous compact SUV that boasts superb off-road capabilities. It looks stunning with a range of new colours and has all the latest on-board technology too.
The goodBrilliant off-roader that's very competitively priced
The badHigh demand means possible long waiting times
Suzuki Jimny – fourth generation 2018 (First Drive)
The words ‘iconic’ or ‘legendary’ are used far too often without any real merit these days. But we can honestly say that over the last 48 years the fabulous little Suzuki Jimny has truly gained its status as an icon, a treasure and a legend. And it’s just got a whole lot more interesting.
That’s because after 18 years the third-generation model has finally been replaced and it’s anything but a mild face-lift.
In fact, it’s all new with a fresh design that is not so radical that it will scare away loyal customers, but certainly upmarket enough to attract new interest from the next generation of buyers. And it is gaining plenty of attention with a waiting list of over a year for new models in Japan.
Compared to the outgoing version, new three-door Jimny has had a growth spurt in some areas while shrinking in others. For example, it is 20mm higher and 45mm wider, but 30mm shorter. And while other manufacturers strive to develop ultra-efficient streamlined vehicles, Suzuki is very proud of the Jimny’s square and somewhat box-like design – if you squint hard enough it bears a slight resemblance to the good old Land Rover Defender. And like the Defender, the Jimny has stand-out design cues such as a distinctive grille and round headlights that mean it can be spotted from quite a distance.
With prices starting from £15,499 and rising to £18,999, there are just two trim levels called SZ4 and SZ5. The old 1.3-litre powertrain has been replaced by a brand new 101PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which can be mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
When it comes to performance, it’s a tale of two halves really. For its entire history the Jimny has been seen as a vehicle that’s much better grinding its way through a boggy field or clambering over rocks than tackling the school run on perfectly smooth Tarmac. After all it was developed to be a tool for professionals and it has certainly achieved that goal. And although Suzuki has worked hard to improve the Jimny’s on-road sophistication and refinement, it still prefers getting off the beaten track for some hard grafting. And that why the likes of farmers and builders account for about 70 per cent of sales.
With a weight of just 1.4 tonnes, the Jimny has a great advantage over many mud-pluggers – it can simply skip across most surfaces that would trouble hard-core 4x4s.It boasts a tough ladder frame structure, great clearance angles, rigid axle suspension and part-time 4WD with low range gears, which once again would be an expensive option on other all-wheel drive cars.
We tested the Jimny in range-topping SZ5 Allgrip trim with a manual gearbox priced at £17,999 (optional dual-tone paint added £650 to the cost). There is no official 0-62mph sprint time as yet but the top speed is recorded at 90mph and the Jimny can deliver combined fuel economy of 35.8mpg with carbon emissions of 178g/km (WLTP).
On the road the Jimny has certainly upped its game with more refined suspension leading to a much more acceptable ride. It will never compete with a classy crossover due to a fair amount of body sway and noise intrusion, but it’s a vast improvement on the third-generation car.
The highly effective suspension is excellent at ironing out most bumps and dips, but if you hit an unexpected pothole it will send a few shudders through the vehicle.
Comfort levels have also been improved upon with supportive seats that have ample adjustment. The high-sided design means there is lots of head room for all occupants, but the compact dimensions mean back seat passengers over six foot will struggle with the restricted leg space.
Next stop was the off-road, wooded course where the Jimny burst into life. It climbed muddy banks, traversed boggy paths, clambered over rocks and balanced at death defying angles without the slightest hesitation. And all this was accomplished on standard road tyres.
As far as on-board technology goes, the latest Jimny has been brought bang up to date with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and a CD player. Move up to range-topping SZ5 trim and you will see the introduction of 15-inch alloys, climate control, navigation with Smartphone link via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, rear privacy glass, LED headlights and heated front seats.
The Jimny is a firm favourite with tradesmen and farmers and will often be spotted on a building site packed with tools or laden down with bales of hay on a farm, so it needs to be practical. And it is with most controls easy to operate while still wearing working gloves. The boot is accessed via a side-hinged swing door which is fine unless someone parks too close behind you and with all the seats in an upright position the storage limit is 85 litres. The 50:50 split-folding rear seats can be dropped completely flat and then the capacity increases to 377 litres. There is a handy storage compartment beneath the boot and the rear seat backs and boot floor have been plastic-coated so they can easily be washed down. The interior on the whole is very practically designed with lots of wipe down hard plastic surfaces that will prove durable and survive the test of time.
When it comes to safety, the Jimny only managed a three out of five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating. On-board systems include lane departure warning, high beam assist, hill descent control, six airbags and dual sensor brake support which warns of a possible collision with a car or pedestrian ahead and applies the brakes autonomously if audio and visual warnings are ignored.
All in all, the new Jimny is a fabulous little car that does exactly what’s expected of it. It oozes charismatic charm and can hold its own on the open road now. But for the real fun and games, head out into the countryside where it will showcase its outstanding 4×4 ability to anyone willing to watch.
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.