The Suzuki Jimny is a brilliant, head-turning little car with quirky looks and awesome off-road ability, but it’s terrible on-road and many alternatives would be more comfortable and practical
The Suzuki Jimny could be your ideal car if you are after something quirky or absolutely need a cheap, small and capable 4×4.
The original Suzuki Jimny was launched way back in 1970 as a lightweight, go-anywhere 4×4. The third generation of the car has been on sale since 1998 so the Jimny has been well overdue for an update. This new, fourth generation model aims to keep its lightweight 4×4 ethos but bring it bang up to date with a funky new look and host of tech you’d expect on a modern car.
The Suzuki Jimny is difficult to categorise – sure there are a host of extremely good small SUVs such as the Kia Stonic, Renault Captur or Seat Arona, but the Jimny is the only one you’d happily take up a mountain
And it would get you there looking awesome. The new Suzuki Jimny is such a head-turning car. The combination of its boxy shape and a range of exciting colours means the car really stands out from the crowd. The Kinetic Yellow is eye-catching, spec the car in Blueish Black Pearl Metallic and you’ve got yourself a mini Mercedes G-Class.
The Suzuki Jimny interior is a masterclass of function over style. There’s swathes of hard, scratchy plastics that while not the last word in quality does look cool, chunky and will happily take being covered in mud and look as good as new with a quick wipe down.
The Suzuki Jimny a brilliant little car. In black it’s like a mini Merc G-Class. But it is only going to suit a small minority of people.
You sit much higher up in the Suzuki Jimny than you would in a Captur or Stonic – it’s almost like sitting in a Land Rover. Combine this with big windows front and back and you get a great view out.
It’s not particularly comfortable however. The driver’s seat only moves back and forwards and as it’s only a two-door you have to climb into the rear seats. Once in there, headroom in the rear is OK, but kneeroom is a bit tight.
Boot space is also tight. With the rear seats in place there’s just 85 litres of space. Fold these seats down and storage space increases to 377 – but that’s still less space than you’d get in the boot of a VW Golf hatchback.
For such a cheap car (prices are expected to start at around £16,000) you get a decent amount of kit.
Entry-level SZ4 get 15-inch steel wheels, air-con, CD, Bluetooth and cruise control. Step up to SZ5 and things look more attractive – alloy wheels, LED headlights, climate control, leather steering wheel, 7.0-inch infotainment screen with sat-nav and you can hook up your smartphone with either Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
The Suzuki Jimny has been designed with traditional ladder frame chassis. It also has selectable four-wheel drive fitted as standard and comes with desirable off-roading tech such as Hill Descent Control and brake limited slip differential (LSD) traction control that automatically brakes slipping wheels to redistribute power to the other side of the car to gain traction. It also has a low-ratio gearbox and rigid axle suspension.
All this means the Suzuki Jimny is supremely capable off road. The car can go places that other cars will fear to tread.
However this also means that the car is compromised on-road. True, driving around town or on the motorway is a lot more enjoyable in the new Jimny than in the previous car. But it’s still nowhere near as comfortable as its alternatives.
Drive over any kind of bumps and the Jimny shimmies and shakes and sends vibrations through the cabin. There is hardly any sound proofing, so you hear things like stones rattling against the underside as you are going along the motorway.
On a twisty road the steering is vague. The car rolls around in corners and it pitches and dives when braking and accelerating. It feels very different to drive than a Kia Stonic or Seat Arona.
There’s lots of wind noise and when you are driving at speed the 1.5-litre engine is noisy too. The engine feels lively at slow speeds but with just 100bhp it’s not particularly punchy. Fuel economy is average – expect around 35mpg in real world conditions. The Jimny comes with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed auto.
Euro NCAP has yet to crash test the Suzuki Jimny. Safety kit includes all the four-wheel-drive tech, lane departure warning and hill hold control. And you can switch from two- to four-wheel drive at speeds up to 60mph.
If you are after a cool looking off-roader there really is nothing else like it. It’s brilliant. But most people who want something cool and quirky to nip around town would be better off with a Kia Stonic or Renault Captur or Seat Arona.