It all began in 1970 with the first one. It was relitively tiny but robust, boasting a two-stroke 25bhp engine. It was the first four-wheel-drive kei car out there because, in Japanese laws at the time, it had less than 360cc (At 359!) in that motor. This LJ10 model could do a mesmerising 48mph and weighed no more than 600kg. Thats 1323 pounds, American friends. Awesome, right? Nible and lightweight but when it needed to, it could step up to the challenge by going off-road. The car underwent a few tweaks in it's life, such as going to water cooling and minor power increases.
Generation two came in 1981. You could have either 550cc or 660cc from a 3-cylinder unit. Also in this generation came a 1.0 four-cylinder engine known as the F10A, with a 68mph vmax and a claimed power output of 50. It was a car that came with many names - Jimny, Samurai and Gypsy to name a few. This was because of different names under different production companies and due to different countries that it was sold in.
In 1998, the Jimny we knew until now came. It was a funky, sizeable and capable thing once more. It had the same recipe as the original. It was cheap and small but rugged at the same time. Unlike most of the competition at the time, the Jimny featured a low-range gearbox for those neccessary moments and troubling terrains. In Japan, a 660cc engine was available to retain the kei car credentials but in Europe, a 1.3 VVT unit was used. It was the G13BB, with its rev-happy attitude and formidable 80 horses. There was a point where it had a 1.5 diesel from Renault, badged at Suzuki as a DDIS. But, it was discontinued. Probably because the 1.5 DCI isn't a very reliable engine.
This new Jimny really is a tough little cookie. It boasts small dimensions, but it's absolutely capable. It always has been. It isn't revolutionary. It's an evolution of the Jimny model, a modernisation of what it means to be the alleged underdog in the offroad game. But, is it really an underdog? Because that second image seems to show a great deal of wheel articulation and great achievements. Sure, if you compare it to a G-Class or a Land Cruiser, it might not go to the same places as easily. But, it won't be far behind. Talking of G-Class, doesn't that rear end seem to take a great deal of inspiration from it? To me, it does. And, this is no bad thing. The G-Wagon is a handsome brute and Suzuki have every right to believe it's a great piece of design. It suits the Jimny's automotive soul - A minute tough-guy ready to take it to the big boys.
The front grille is very much the same as before, with those five rectangular entrances. It's simple but presentable, no need to design anything beyond that. The beauty of the Jimny has always been it's simplicity. The Jimny doesn't care about being advanced or technologically flooded. No. It focuses on doing what it's always been good at - Delivering offroadability at a fantastic price. More on that later. The headlights have been rounded from Gen 3, returning to the roots of the original. Nothing about this car is over the top. Well, perhaps that lime-green paint is but, it's funky! It's supposed to be. The plastic bumpers are design features (Though, in reality, it's just a cost reduction. Bit like a bog standard Sandero.) and really encourage you to believe that it isn't coloured for a reason - Because it's ready to hit a dirt track.
The extended wheel arches that surround the wheels can actually be body coloured, but stick to the standard plastic look and you won't be dissapointed. This car is really rather fun, bringing joy to the class. It isn't graceful like the Mercedes or luxurious like the Land Cruiser. What it is, is different. And in a very, very good way. Simplicity for the win. Especially this simplicity, because it has been thought through with added care. It's new where it needs to be and traditional everywhere else. Points to you, Suzuki. It still has good old-fashioned door handles that probably sound cheap as chips to the ear (and probably feels very hard to the touch) but that, again, is the whole point of the Jimny.
This just keeps getting better and better, I think. The Jimny seems to have a blend of new and old in it's interior design. The wheel is multifunction and taken from every other new Suzuki model, with the current infotainment and switchgear visible to anyone who's sat in any new Suzuki. I really like the wheel, it seems to have a positive size with well laid out buttons (Might be because it looks like our Accord. Might be bias there.) and simplicity. Now, with that simplicity comes a drawback. Cheap plastics. I have no doubt in my mind that the plastics are rock hard and scratch at the slightest suggestions. But, if you think about it, who actually bothers testing the quality? Whoever decides on a car judged by the feel and solidity of the materials is a fool. Unless you're buying something very luxurious like an S-Class or Bentley. Then, it should be plush. Otherwise, no.
One thing I can see immediately are the buttons. I put my hands together for the people at Suzuki because they've really, really thought this interior through. Notice the centre console and all of the buttons and dials. They're BIG. Why? Winter - You're wearing gloves, you want easy access to the climate. You get it. Little things like this add to the whole experience and Suzuki should, once again, be congratulated for their work. Notice how big all the windows are. You sit pretty high in this thing and pair that with those windows and you have a traditional, Land Rover-like experience.That infotainment system is far, far off the best in the business but like any system out there, it can become something you're easily accustomed to. Even if it's a bit laggy and not graphically great.
This is quite an analogue thing. This is part of the Jimny's ''New and Old'' charm, I think. Notice how the gear lever looks. Just like my uncles 1990s Isuzu Trooper. Chunky, simple and tall. Easy access and solid. That's neccessary. What you'll also notice is the low ratio gearbox lever. Placed beside the main gear lever like in a traditional offroader, it is accessible but away from you. Why? Avoidance of accidental touches while moving. Little things. The dials too, are simple. Speedometer and a tachometer. None of the digital stuff, no. Simple, analogue dials. Although, that orange is a bit weird.
Expect the Jimny to start at around £15,000. That's cheap for it's capabilities and, actually, it'll have a good deal of standard kit. SZ4 (Entry level) trim will give you 15 inchers made from steel, air conditioning, a CD Player matched to an infotainment system that has bluetooth and cruise control. Step up to SZ5 and you get climate control, those big circular headlights with LEDs, a leather wheel and an upgraded infotainment screen with connectivity to both IOS and Android with their respective systems.
The ladder-frame chassis helps to make it traditional, alongside modern tech like a limited-slip diff, hill descent control and a smart traction control system that redistributes power around the car's sides. Also, what isn's so traditional is the new engine. It's a 1.5 petrol, naturally aspirated and with a cylinder count of four. 100bhp is what you get and paired with 130nm of torque you'll get to a top speed of 90mph. You can either have a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. I think an auto kills the point of this car, so go manual. It'll be more reliable, too. No official economy figures yet, but expect mid-30s for the mpg.
I'm very much excited for this new Jimny and hope Suzuki does well with it because they deserve to. It has been thought through, big time. It still has traditional elements that a traditional car should have like a ladder-frame chassis or manual low-range gearbox. But, it also has enough modern features to make it stand out to the crowds.
While I have gone on with great positivity about this car, it isn't for everyone. Firstly, it's a 2-door with 4 seats meaning it isn't exactly the best and easiest thing for small families. This is especially the case since, with all seats up, the boot is pitifully small. It's also likely not to be the most economical thing out there, so it won't be a fantastic daily driver. And, to those who feel quality for cash is supreme - The interior will bother you. It's made to save money, but I feel that the Jimny can be excused for this. It's supposed to be a cheap car with expensive car abilities. On that ground, it delivers without failure.
I hope that Suzuki continue to make cars such as this because they're a real eye-opener. They show that you can keep traditional car dynamics and characteristics while also making them exceptionally good to look at and modern. Others should certainly look into this and be jealous, because Suzuki has really pulled one off in my opinion. Well done Suzuki.