Is the Suzuki Jimny all the car you could ever need?
I remember seeing LJ and SJ Suzuki's over the years, later badged as a Jimny. They were weird little 4x4's which seemed somewhat unstoppable no matter the terrain, whilst also not costing the earth to own and being cost effective to fix when broken. One year in a heavy snow storm, I saw a Jimny scoot straight past a stranded Defender (which had got dug in) - it was at that moment I realised just how obscenely good they were.
Today's cost? About £16,000 - if you can find one or you're willing to waiting nearly 18 months for delivery. Some dealerships are selling the new ones for as much as £23,000 - and honestly they're actually hard to find in 'ready to sell' condition too. Why are they so popular?
An exterior design you can understand
Lets face it, manufacturers are doing some pretty heavy design language at the moment. How often do you look at a car and scratch your head, not really getting where the design was going? Many refer to the current Jimny as a 'mini G Wagon', whilst I appreciate the sentiment - really it's quite offensive to who did that sort of design first - Jeep.
Externally it's simple, easy to look at and covered in easy to replace plastic should you crunch it off-road. Whilst somewhat of a brick, it's not totally un-aerodynamic and the ride height certainly suits the type of lifestyle Suzuki have envisaged for it.
It's cute, it's not making a fuss, it does exactly what it looks like it should do - simple design is the best design, yes?
Credit: Suzuki UK
A hardwearing and comfortable interior!
For such a small price, you shouldn't really expect much from a car. However, somehow Suzuki fill the Jimny with a good amount of tech as standard - including forward collision assist, automatic climate control and a decent infotainment unit. The speakers aren't up to much, but there are only two for the entire cabin so I'll let it off.
The seats are comfortable, the driving position offers good visibility and it feels somewhat like a long-lasting interior ready to take a lifetime of abuse and neglect. The rear space is somewhat limited, however no worse than the previous generation. If you find yourself taking lots of luggage you will however pop the rear seats down, then the Jimny basically turns into a go-anywhere van.
On longer runs the Jimny is comfortable and quiet, however the engine drone (3k+ RPM at 70mph) does cut through at times. Fortunately it's not too bad, and these aren't made for motorway driving - I've only seen one or two in the last 6 months on a motorway.
The off-road capability is more than the most expensive SUVs...
Yup, you heard me. Put this up against a Range Rover, a Land Rover - heck even the new G-Wagon.. and it'll surprise you in the result. The fact it's so light and nimble means it never gets stuck, the short wheelbase ensures you don't get beached on anything and the low-range box sorts everything else. I took my test vehicle down a green-lane which is specifically for the 'best of the best' off-roaders... and it didn't struggle one bit.
The 1.5 petrol engine produces about 100bhp/95lb ft torque, however because the Jimny does only weigh about 1100kg it's more than enough for general driving. Around town it can nip about, the gearbox does offer a huge throw but it's incredibly engaging and fun. Back roads are with slightly lumber - however it doesn't feel like a total sponge cake in the slightest. The steering isn't totally numb and the pedal feel also doesn't disconnect you from the car.
Economy tends to be around the mid 30s, no matter how it's driven. Hit the motorway and drive at 60mph, you'll likely see above 40mpg with ease.
"Is this all the car I need then?? REALLY?!"
Woah, slow down there. I like to be controversial, it's fun. If you spend your life in a city, parking in tight bays and getting bored in traffic - the Jimny is actually surprisingly good at it. Great visibility is matched with a superb lock and off-the-marque nip. You also sit higher than most of the rest of the traffic so you can see for ages.
The motorway driving scenario is where the Jimny isn't so good, but equally not a total failure either. Whilst the economy is decent and the ride comfort is excellent - being buffeted by wind and hearing the engine hid 3-4k rpm constantly can become a bit much. That said, this isn't a car made for motorways - yet it does it with ease. Just consider your speed and crosswinds and you'll be in comfort.
Country lifestyle is what this is born for, and it does it better than any other vehicle on the market. Those tight country roads with limited passing places can be a nightmare in a big vehicle, however the Jimny just squeezes through or goes over things to get through. Those icy/snowy seasons are nothing to be worried about - the Jimny can surpass with total ease.