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Wheels spin: Suzuki Jimny 2019 review

By Alex Rae, 24 Apr 2019 Reviews

Wheels spin: Suzuki Jimny 2019 review

An evergreen carpark of rides at Wheels HQ gives us the perfect opportunity to take our readers for a quick Wheels spin - short, sharp and to the point.

What’s in the garage?

Wheels subscribers and regular readers might recognise this boxy, bright green Suzuki Jimny that’s been a staple of our long-term review updates. Having been around the block a few times at the office even the janitor has a good read on what the Japanese brand’s fourth-gen four-by-four is like.


What we reckon


Cameron Kirby
Staff Journalist
Outside of ostentatious supercars, few cars grab attention on the road like the Suzuki Jimny. Its ability to turn heads means you’ll be the centre of attention whether you are driving to the shops or heading bush. Despite its immense off-road capability, the little Suzuki is surprisingly adept in an urban environment thanks to a tight turning circle and short length. However, the ride is busy, and highway driving is best reserved for short bursts only.

Andy Enright
Deputy Editor
The Jimny has so many objective faults, yet so many seem to love it. Can you imagine if a mainstream hatchback had this many shortcomings? The press would undoubtedly slaughter it. It may be divisive, but I’m still on the ‘love’ side of the ledger. It’s too much fun not to paint a giant, dopy grin on your face. One change I’d want to make right away is to cover the back of the seats in some kind of flock or carpet. I drive with them folded down and the hard plastic is shinier than Tom Cruise’s chiclets, sending bags and dogs skidding all over the place with any minuscule application of throttle, brake or steering.

Alex Rae
Online Editor
Suzuki’s retro-cool Jimny offers a lot for little money, if you can live with some compromise. While it’s easier to enjoy as a rough-and-ready weekend car than an everyday commuter, its modern touches, safety tech and surprisingly forgiving ride make it a worthy upgrade for many four-wheel-drive enthusiasts with just the one car. Roof racks with a crate would be top priority for increased cargo capacity, though, which is hard to live with on a long trip.

 


Specs and compared to rivals

  Suzuki Jimny Toyota LandCruiser 70 Workmate Jeep Wrangler Sport S
Price $23,990 $63,740 $48,950
Engine 1.5L 4cyl 4.5L V8 turbo 3.6L V6
Output 75kW/130Nm 151kW/430Nm 209kW/347Nm
Transmission 5spd MT 5spd MT 8spd AT
Fuel Petrol Diesel Petrol
Efficiency (combined) 6.4L/100km 10.7L/100km 9.6L/100km
Drivetrain 4x4 4x4 4x4
ANCAP rating 3 STAR NA 4 STAR
Warranty 3 years/100,000km 5 years/unlimited 5 years/100,000km
Service Interval 6 months/10,000km 6 months/10,000km 12 months/12,000km
Seats 4 5 4
Wheel size 195/80 R15 225/95 R16 245/75 R17
Boot space 85L 720L 197L
Length 3480mm 4870mm 4334mm
Width 1645mm 1790mm 1894mm
Height 1720mm 1955mm 1821mm
Wheelbase 2250mm 2730mm 2459mm
Weight 1095kg 2275kg 1762kg
Towing capacity braked 1300kg 3500kg 1497kg
Front suspension live axle live axle live axle
Rear suspension live axle live axle live axle
Country of origin Japan Japan United States

  


Review

Power and performance

A small 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with lowly 75kW and 130Nm output figures is nothing to write home about, but with a featherweight 1095kg performance on the scales the Jimny doesn’t need much oomph to get moving. Still, it feels leisurely accelerating above 60 km/h and needs to rev to make the most of its power. It’s not a car to be in a rush with, but it does have an energy about it that’s pleasing when schlepping along, and the long-throw five-speed manual transmission is nevertheless positive in its action and engaging to use. Below that is an old fashion shift lever for selecting part-time two-wheel-drive (rear), locked 4x4 high and locked 4x4 low range.

Off bitumen and with four-wheel-drive engaged, the power delivery feels well-judged and it’s enough to scrabble on just about anything suitable to the car’s 210mm ground clearance and skinny 195mm wide road-biased rubber. And it’s probably more than apt to push on harder with some suitable mods to get really serious.

Ride and handling

Built on a ladder-frame chassis with front and rear live axles, the Jimny’s solid off-road credentials compromise some of its on-road compliance. But given there is a lightweight body on top it feels relatively light on its feet. It’s not a loud, clunky four-wheel-drive by any means. Small dimensions and light but direct steering provides an almost comically tiny turning circle that’s better than many city hatchbacks, placing the Jimny as the perfect urban dweller cum weekend warrior. Tip it into a corner at speed, though, and the softly sprung body begins to feel uneasy. It’s also very susceptible to a bit of rock and roll in crosswinds on the highway.

Low gearing in the manual transmission helps when climbing off-road and crawling along rocks but it does need some momentum to get over bigger obstacles and bumps, which in turn gets pretty bouncy on the soft suspension. In this situation a larger off-roader with longer wheelbase and wider tyres cruises along, but as long as you’re fine with being bumped around a bit, the Jimny’s a very capable 4WD with excellent vision out of the cabin.

Interior and comfort

Mirroring the boxy retro styling outside, the interior feels plucked from the 1970s - in a good way. There’s a dash of modernism, such as the 7.0-inch infotainment system with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (but only two front speakers), and automatic electric windows and climate control bring convenience to what is a sparse but rugged cabin.

The front seats are simple and supportive, whereas the rear two pews are thin fold-flat supports that will likely serve most time out of the way so that the diminutive 85L ‘boot’ can claim some extra space. At least the seats are ISOFIX compatible and there’s decent legroom for small kids.

Scoring


Verdict

As a logical choice in the new car market, it's doubtful the Jimny's numbers stack up well against most vehicles; it's simple, nuts and bolts transport that feels behind the times. But heart over head, you'd be hard pressed to find a better choice for something that has the same vibe and panache at such a price point, and one that goes where not many new cars can.