It was during my first weekend with the Jimny, which I had pried from the hands of Wheels’ art direcotr, Felipe, while he was busy sharpening his crayons. I had decided to get some dust in the treads, and escape the urban jungle for some good ol’-fashioned off-roading, with Wheels crew member Tom Fraser along for the ride.
The problem is, I have about as much off-roading experience as a toddler does with theoretical mathematics. But there I sat, looking out the windscreen, desperately trying to figure out where the road had gone. I was perched on the edge of a drastic descent, which was transformed by my anxiety into what was quite clearly the biggest hill in the world, and it dawned on me that I had no idea what to do if things started to go sideways – literally.
I ushered the mental maelstrom to the back of my mind, and carefully crept forward, and then downward. The invisible hand of gravity was held at bay by the Jimny’s hill descent control, the system taking care of ensuring speed was contained while I did my best to keep everything pointed in the right direction.
By the time I’d reached level ground, the Jimny’s faux-leather steering wheel felt like it had spent the night in a tropical rainforest. But I did find the hill descent control rather abrupt and jerky, so I turned the Tennis Ball around, pointed the nose skyward, and headed back for a second go. The ascent was a simple enough affair, with the Jimny’s modest kerb weight allowing it to scrabble upwards without a care in the world. No low-range needed today.
Time for descent number two, and this time I’d be in charge of both the brakes and steering. Taking back my independence from the machine was liberating, and I felt more at ease while in control of all inputs. Despite the mountain I had built up in my mind, the reality was that I was pretty much tackling a molehill.
Full review: 2019 Suzuki Jimny review
After the billy goat action, Fraser and I headed deeper into the surrounding bush. We cruised over rocks and ditches, snuck through gaps in trees, and had repeated attempts at kicking up as much sand as possible on a banked turn. So confident was the Jimny that I had banished all mental queasiness completely, allowing Fraser and I to laugh and cackle at the frankly ridiculous ability of the Jimny. Nothing seemed to faze the thing.
With a couple of hours of bush bashing under our belts, which was raucous fun, we came crashing back to droning, monotonous reality for the schlep back to inner-city Melbourne, with the Jimny’s short gearing meaning the tachometer was reporting 3500rpm at 110km/h in fifth. I’ll be avoiding longer road trips in the future, then.
There wasn’t nearly enough mud and dirt on the panels for my liking once the day’s shenanigans had ended. Round two should rectify this egregious error, and hopefully bring with it a more rigorous challenge.