It’s hard to think of another automobile that was as hotly anticipated as the Suzuki Jimny. In its twenty years of being pretty much the same car, it has managed to amass a sizeable fan base and a significant cult following.
It’s easy to see why. Small, compact, affordable, and capable of going anywhere as a true off-roader, the Jimny had a niche appeal that no other manufacturer rivaled, or even offered. So you can imagine why expectations were extremely high. Everyone wanted to know how they’d improve a twenty-year legacy.
Was it even possible? Then the first photos were revealed, and the internet went crazy. Such is the spell that the Jimny casts on all of us.
I’ll be the first to admit that Suzuki did a great job with the Jimny’s exterior styling. Its retro-inspired vibe is impossibly charming, and contained in such as small, squarish package, it’s the ultimate cute-ute.
Everything else, though, is down to business. No overhangs mean that the Jimny can take on steep inclines with no trouble at all, and a decent minimum ground clearance of 210mm gives you all the room you need to negotiate large rocks if you have to. Its 195 / 80 R15 tires on alloy wheels are a good fit for the arches, with a lot of room left for some serious off-road flexing. The bumpers, grille, skirts, and wheel arch extensions are in plastic, giving you the impression that if you damage them, they’re easy replacements. So yes, the Suzuki Jimny may be cute on the outside, but don’t let that detract you from the fact that it’s a fully capable off-roader when it needs to be.
The inside sees some definite improvements from the previous model, while retaining some important features that were essential to its nature. The interior is generous with the use of plastic, specifically in this base-model GL variant, and that’s a good thing. If you’re going to take your Jimny out to play in mud and sand, you’ll want an interior that can take the beating and more importantly, is easy to clean. No leather or fancy soft-touch fabrics here. The Jimny makes its utilitarian nature clear, and we’re perfectly fine with that.
However, there are some modern amenities that make the cabin a much nicer place to be in than the previous model. Most apparent of them is the large touchscreen that dominates the center dash. It runs the same software as the rest of the Suzuki lineup all the way down to the Dzire, meaning you have Bluetooth connectivity as well as MirrorLink options for those with Android devices.
The two large analog displays for the tachometer and speedometer are highly legible in any lighting condition, with a monochrome digital display giving you your odometer and fuel information. No clinometer display for pitching, rolling, compass, barometric pressure and altimeter here however, that’s reserved for the top-of-the-line GLX variant.
There’s more than enough room for two adults up front, but make no mistake, this is a 2+2 vehicle, with small platform seats in the back just barely able to fit two adults comfortably. With the two rear seats down, you don’t get a lot of room to play with. You can fit a duffel bag or three, but that’s about it. Luckily, a quick tug on the release latch and the two rear seats fold down for a relatively flat bed to store larger cargo. And really, that’s about all there is to the interior. But that’s why we love the Jimny in the first place. It’s simple, and down to the point.
The engine gets a definite upgrade from its predecessor, as the Suzuki Jimny is now powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 101 hp and 130 Nm of torque. With a curb weight of 1,090 kg, there’s more than enough power here to get you through most off-roading scenarios, and is good enough to return around 11-12 km/L.
On the streets, though, the Jimny isn’t the most graceful kid on the block. It presents a lot of body sway when turning a corner at speed, and its less-than-stellar NVH levels and short gearing makes it infinitely more at home where there are no roads.
At P975,000, the Suzuki Jimny comes in slightly more expensive than we would’ve liked, but honestly, it doesn’t have a true competitor, so we can’t complain. Thankfully, even the base model retains some safety features found in the top-of-the-line GLX variant such as SRS dual front airbags, ABS, stability control, hill hold control, hill descent control, reverse parking sensors, and even ISOFIX latches.
But fans of the previous Jimny don’t even need to know that, because they’ve already made up their mind – they’re getting this Jimny anyway. And if you’re looking for a reliable, fully-capable, fun-to-drive car both for recreational play and for some hard-core off-roading, you should too.
Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven