Sam Clark – Suzuki Jimny Review
The Suzuki Jimny has been a mainstay amongst 4x4ers, farmers and outdoorsmen since 1970. Most Kiwis have a Suzuki story: “My uncle had one of those”, “We had one as a bush truck” or “My mate rolled one doing skids”. Kiwis love Suzuki trucks and I was keen to see how the 4th generation Jimny would perform.
I normally drive a Vitara, and the Jimny’s driver’s seat has the same familiar feel. The interior is awash with sturdy black plastic and has an industrial flavour. The gauges, clock and dash almost look like they have been pinched from a Range Rover. The large touch screen has plenty of features including sat-nav and it is easy to connect your phone. Pull away from the car yard and you instantly notice the way it feels; like a proper 4wd. Jimny has amazing ground clearance, the suspension has loads of travel and the ladder frame chassis keeps weight low to the ground.
Putting your foot down doesn’t deliver any surprises; the Jimny isn’t a speed machine. The 1.5L, naturally aspirated engine is vocal but not strained at highway speed, going fast isn’t the purpose of this vehicle. Gravel roads and hill country are where the Jimny shines. The “Allgrip” system sends power to each wheel as needed, and smiles dispersed from one ear to the other.
One tried and true way of testing an off-road vehicle is to head to some sand dunes and try (not) to get stuck. From Nicholson Whakatane we headed out to Thornton beach which is popular with fisher-folk, holidaymakers, and usually one or two folk smoking substances of dubious origin.
Jimny’s transfer case can be operated on the fly; no fiddling around with hub locks. Just push the knob down and shift from 2H to 4H or 4L. My usual strategy is to hit soft sand with speed and plenty of revs. In the Jimny I was able to chug along happily, the electronic diff locks took care of any wheelspin.
An hour is enough to size up most vehicles, but taking the Jimny for a short spin doesn’t come close to exploring its potential. Since production began, Suzuki has sold nearly three million units around the globe, a Jimny even holds the world record for the highest ascent in a 4wd. Nothing in its price range comes close, and considering the last generation didn’t change for 20 years; this Jimny will probably be around for a while too.