The Jimny is a surprisingly fun car to drive in the city and suburbs, and even on a winding road – mainly because it’s so light and manoeuvrable.
However, it rides high and sometimes feels a little unsteady on its truck-style chassis, which at each end suspends the wheels on a solid axle running across the full width of the car. All other small SUVs mount their wheels on shorter, lighter, hinged arms that allow them to move independently, and as a result bring you a smoother ride and more control on bumpy roads.
The good thing about the solid-axle chassis is that it’s ideally suited to off-road driving, as it allows the wheels to move up and down a long way to maintain contact with rough ground.
The Jimny also has plenty of clearance under the chassis, while the front and rear bodywork does not stick out far beyond the front and rear wheels – meaning you can nudge up to and over steep obstacles without grounding the bumpers.
With all that going for it, and its low weight, the Jimny will just about go anywhere off road – sometimes to the embarrassment of a more expensive and sophisticated 4WD vehicle.
For off-road driving, an automatic Jimny has an advantage over the manual on steep climbs (due to different effective gearing). It is also better on soft sand, where a manual will lose momentum when you engage the clutch to change gears.
If you puncture a tyre, you can swap it for the Jimny’s rear-mounted full-size spare without unloading the car. Owners can also feel secure in the Jimny’s toughness and durability, and it has an excellent reputation for reliability.