I’VE had to wait a long time to review this car. And that’s not because they’re rare, it’s because journalists have been queuing up to try it.
Suzuki’s Jimny is a bit of an automotive legend. It’s had a long and fruitful history and it can trace its roots back to the 1970s. Remember the SJ410 that we often referred to as the “Rhino”? Its DNA is all over this new Jimny.
The last Jimny, which was actually the third generation of Suzuki’s lightweight off-road offering, paid homage to its predecessors, whereas this one celebrates them with a smattering of visual tributes.
It was that previous version that gathered up a huge cult following, especially among the off-roading and green-laning set because it could out-perform cars twice this size.
SUSuzuki is well aware of its successful formula, so it’s not changed it all that much for the newcomer, but it’s embraced its opportunity to plug a gap left by the Land Rover Defender and it’s created another car that’s sure to be a hit with the mud-plugging community.
Its strength lies in its outright simplicity. It has a robust ladder-frame chassis, rigid axle suspension and a tough four-wheel drive system that’s controlled with a lever, rather than a switch.
The interior isn’t without its modern touches, but it does have a whiff of Land Rover Defender about it, with its tough plastics, simple layout and switches you can operate wearing gloves. True to its heritage, this is a car that you can rely on as a tool, as well as a vehicle with which to get you from A to B.
SUSurprisingly, the new Jimny is 30mm shorter, 45mm wider and 20mm taller than the outgoing model, yet it has a bigger boot, a wipe-down interior and hill-descent control – along with a host of new safety gear and other modern touches.
It’s powered by a new 1.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 100bhp and 95lb ft, which is also better than its predecessor.
And then there’s the looks. I love its steel wheels, the big, black plastic bumpers and the various nods to older Suzuki models.
On the road, its ladder frame makes for a lively, bouncy ride and its deliberately vague steering is easy to get used to. It’s handling is fit for purpose, and it feels as stable as it needs to on the road.
SUStorage space is a bit of an issue. You’ll have no problem getting two small adults in the rear seats, but that’ll put paid to pretty much anything going in the boot. Fold the seats down and the problem is solved, but it does mean you’ve a choice to make between people and luggage. Front cabin storage is also a little on the stingy side.
The Jimny range starts from £16,000 and you might think that’s a lot of money for such a back-to-basics vehicle but, trust me, it really isn’t.
They’re already selling like hot cakes and I’m sure Suzuki could have got away with charging more. This will bode well for residual value, too.
If you’re after something with a cossetting ride, a surround-sound stereo and sharp handling, it’s not going to be the car for you.
There are cars that will out-perform it on the rough stuff, too, but none of them are this charming and adorable. The Jimny is filled to the brim with character. It’s a genuinely loveable car and, for the people it’s aimed at, it’ll be considered close to perfect.
As a dependable tool, or for a bit of weekend fun, the Jimny has plugged a gap in the industry that’s been gaping for years. No wonder it’s been so popular.