The million-dollar question: Suzuki Jimny or Fiat Panda Cross or Skoda Yeti?
The Suzuki Jimny is an awesome car, in fact, there are few in the market that offer so much character and soul in that price bracket.
Well, when I say few, there are indeed some similar cars in the market that can go offroad, stand out from the crowd and is very affordable. Here are two of it's main rivals:
There's the Skoda Yeti, albeit gone for a while, and has been replaced by the Skoda Karoq, but as we proved a few weeks ago, the Karoq has nowhere near enough character, style and coolness as the Yeti (click here for the full article). And as prices of second-hand later models drop to around the same price as the Jimny, it might be worth while to check out the Yeti.
And then there's the Fiat Panda Cross, a jacked up 4x4 that has a surprising amount of offroading capabilities. It may have a funny name, but when put up against the big boys, the Panda sure shines among them. Somewhat like the Jimny, only a bit more civilized inside.
Which one looks the best?
The Suzuki Jimny, no doubt, is fancy looking. Suzuki designers has tough in mind, and boy oh boy did they pull it off. The car looks like the Mercedes G-Wagon and the Land Rover Defender has had a baby, and it does looks smart. They've also stuck some matte black body cladding on the side to toughen up the car and stuck a black grille on the front, which reminds people of the Jimnys of old. And what a car this is...
Then there's the Panda Cross, the relatively unimaginative one out of the bunch, which is weird considering that the Italians are the best designers in the industry, and they're losing out to the supposedly boring Japanese.
The updated Skoda Yeti, on the other hand, looks worse according to the public because Skoda have taken out the round fog lights in the front grille. However, the Yeti has always remained half car in the front, half boxy van in the back to maximise boot space. so it has a split personality...
Which drives the best on road?
Not the Suzuki Jimny that's for sure. It rolls too much in the corners, the engine is gutless, the drivetrain is agricultural, the ladder chassis would mean it's terrible on road, it doesn't even have a rack-and-pinion steering system, which we all thought was standard in all cars now. So the Jimny is out of the question. Worst of the trio by far.
So it was down to these two. They are similar in terms to how they drive, they are both jacked up regular hatchbacks. However, the Skoda would win this test because it's got a 1.2 straight-four turbocharged engine, and the Panda hasn't even got an engine bigger than 1L (for the price that is competitive with the Suzuki, it has to have that TwinAir engine). So in the power side of things, the Panda is worse than the Yeti, and that is very important when you want to overtake a Peugeot on the outside lane going the speed of 30mph.
Which goes offroad the best?
On paper, the Jimny wins this test. Because despite the lack of power, the outdated gearbox and the agricultural driving experience, Suzuki used what was saved, to kit out the Jimny. So the Jimny has got a low range gearbox, hill hold control, hill descent control, even brake LSD traction control, which are all things that only fancy offroaders and cars that costs three or four times the price of the Jimny has. So it's going to excel amongst the trio.
However, people who bought Skoda Yeti have proved that even without the fancy offroad assists, the Skoda Yeti will still go offroad with incredible toughness. In fact, Skoda once brought three of the four-wheel-drive Yetis to Bhutan, and they all survived there. They then brought one single Yeti to Morocco, Sahara and Sengal, it survived too. Then they went all out and took three Yetis to Russia, and guess what, they survived too.
You see, the Fiat Panda Cross is on this list because it too can beat traditional offroaders while having a fraction of the cost. Fifth Gear once took a Fiat Panda Cross against the Land Rover Defender, and it followed the Defender every where it went, proved that the tiny city car is capable of doing great things.
Which one is the coolest?
This is a tricky question, because to see which is the coolest, we have to see who owns the cars, or who has driven and praised the cars, as per the rules of the Cool Wall from Top Gear.
The Skoda Yeti easily takes the top slot because Jeremy Clarkson drove it on Top Gear, beat a Ferrari 308 GTB round Donnington Park, drove through a fiery building while holding a melting ice cream, and even landed a helicopter on top. He calls a Skoda Yeti with a helicopter on top the best car in the world.
The Fiat Panda Cross however, hasn't been tested by Jeremy Clarkson. Nor did this particular 4x4 version of the Panda go on telly as far as I can remember. But, James May did own a Panda a while back (with the registration LN56 YRR), and he drove a regular Twin Air Panda on Top Gear. Also, James King of DriveTribe owns one of the most famous Fiat Panda 100hp in the country, and he claims the Panda is one of the best cars ever, well it's his first car and his only car so the credibility is rather low.
The Jimny, on the other hand, hasn't got celebrities to review it yet. But the coolness of the Jimny is off the scale. Just look at it! It looks like a puppy that encourages you to throw the frisbee every single day. Everybody likes a positive car and the Jimny will make you smile every single time you see one rolling round the street.
Wait, the rules of the Cool Wall state that if any of the trio says it's good, it's uncool...so the Jimny takes the test!
Which is the most practical?
This is the boot of the Panda Cross...
This is the boot of the Skoda Yeti...
This is the boot of the Jimny. Jimny lost for sure...
I'm going to be honest, the Jimny doesn't really have rivals, because Suzuki have made a car for a segment in the market that doesn't exist. And that idea has worked wonders, everybody loves it. The Fiat Panda Cross and the Skoda Yeti might seem to be very different cars, one of them is a city car jacked up to be a pretend offroader that coincidentally goes offroad, one of them is a city car that happens to go offroad. But all of them has one thing going for it: Character.
Character is what is lacking in today's car market. You see Audi churning out cars using it's photocopiers and just setting the scale from 50% to 120% using one photo, and all of them looks relatively the same, they're just copies of others.
But these cars stand out because they're alive. They aren't made by photocopiers, but people with hearts and souls. Everything is there for a reason: to make your live better. Fiat could've just put plastic cladding on the side and call it done. But they've decided to literally go wild with the Panda and make it one of the best budget offroaders which happens to base off of the regular Panda. Skoda could've just built a VW Golf with four-wheel-drive, so could Suzuki, but they didn't. That's what makes them great, that's what separates them from cars and what makes them human.