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New car review

Suzuki Jimny review

The new Suzuki Jimny is a proper SUV just like its predecessor, built for those who really want to take their vehicle a long way off the beaten track.

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Design
7
Comfort
6
Driving
7
Value for Money
7
Safety
6

Summary

The Suzuki Jimny is a proper old-school off-roader equally at home, perhaps more at home on a rocky track as it is the tarmac. It will appeal to a particular kind of buyer who will accept the compromises – a poor safety rating, not a lot of interior room and efficiency figures that don't impress. Off-road, however, it's a lot of fun...

Summary

The Suzuki Jimny is a proper old-school off-roader equally at home, perhaps more at home on a rocky track as it is the tarmac. It will appeal to a particular kind of buyer who will accept the compromises – a poor safety rating, not a lot of interior room and efficiency figures that don't impress. Off-road, however, it's a lot of fun...
 

Inside the Suzuki Jimny

Like everything else about the Jimny, the interior is styled for a purpose – the word used at the launch was ‘functional.’ You won’t find soft-touch plastics here, it’s all about being scratch-resistant and easy to clean.

Notable touches include a lever on the transfer box, for shifting from high to low-range on the transmission. The previous version had a button, which customers told Suzuki did not feel dramatic enough to use. All the controls are chunky, and we are told specifically designed to be used while wearing gloves.

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What there isn’t, however, is a great deal of room. Those who fall in love with pictures of the Jimny might be surprised to find on entering a showroom that it’s not that big a vehicle.

Occupants of both front seats will find themselves close to rubbing shoulders while the mere two rear seats are very cosy. And with them comes boot space of a whole 85 litres! It extends to 377 litres, but only if you fold those rear seats – so take the family, or the shopping, but not both…

Driving the Suzuki Jimny

Engine choices on the latest Jimny are easy as there is only one – a 1.5-litre petrol unit. No diesel is available, as Suzuki is now a petrol-only company.

This is a new engine, replacing the previous 1.3-litre unit, but not one of Suzuki’s latest Boosterjet turbos. The narrow torque band of such units does not really lend itself to what is needed in off-road situations.

Power is 101hp, torque 130Nm, the latter from 4,000 rpm. Official 0-62mph times are yet to be released and will not be that swift. Combined cycle fuel economy figures under the new WLTP measuring protocol are just 35.8mpg, and CO2 emissions an unimpressive 178g/km  – though Suzuki argues that when you compare the Jimny’s price to rivals, fleet benefit-in-kind ratings will actually favour its car.

An elevated seating position, thin metal and wide glass does add up to an impressive view out of the Jimny. But what comes with it is a long gear lever which in manual form can be a little indecisive in use.

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You need a lot of revs to feel like you are seriously accelerating. However, for such a high-sprung vehicle it does ride well, without the spongy chassis that used to be a marker of traditional SUVs. You don’t get a lot of feel when cornering, but equally it doesn’t dip into corners, again, like SUVs used to.

Up at speed on a fast dual carriageway or motorway and engine noise does become an issue. It is too loud – clearly, Suzuki imagines the average Jimny buyer spending most of their time not tooling up a motorway but charging across a field.

And it is in such situations that the new Jimny absolutely excels – Suzuki demonstrated this in no uncertain fashion at the launch with an off-road route that would have very soon defeated the vast majority of the small SUV market. The Jimny lapped it up – whether it was deep holes leaving one wheel suspended in mid-air, very steep gradients up and down (hill descent control is standard) or cloying mud, the car was never halted.

Summary

The retro styling is nice, but that is really a sideshow of the Suzuki Jimny. This is an SUV built to do a job of work – you’d never use the word crossover to describe a Jimny. It is a proper off-roader that will happily tackle basically anything away from the beaten track.

If you are in the market for a Jimny you will be someone who really needs a tough, go-anywhere vehicle, and then your major question will be whether it is big enough, as in the metal this is a smaller vehicle than it looks in pictures.

Decide that it’s right for you, and you will be merely left with the problem of finding a dealer able to supply one any time soon…

Good points

  • Proper tough off-road ability
  • Retro but practical styling
  • More electronic tech

Bad points

  • 3-star safety rating
  • Tight interior, tiny boot
  • Less-than-impressive efficiency

Key specifications

Make & model Suzuki Jimny Jeep Wrangler Dacia Duster
Specification SZ5 Allgrip Sahara GME Prestige 4×4
Price (on-road) £18,484 (range starts £15,499) £43,995 (range starts £43,995) £16,695 (4×4 range starts £12,995)
Engine 1.5-litre petrol 2.0-litre petrol 1.6-litre petrol
Transmission 5-speed manual 8-speed automatic 6-speed manual
Power 101 hp 272 hp 115 hp
Torque 130 Nm 400 Nm 156 Nm
0-62mph TBA TBA 11.0 sec
Top speed 90 mph TBA 106 mph
Fuel economy (combined) 35.8 mpg (WLTP)
41.5 mpg (NEDC)
31.4 mpg (NEDC) 40.4 mpg (NEDC)
CO2 emissions 178 g/km (WLTP) 198 g/km (NEDC) 158 g/km (NEDC)
Insurance group TBC TBC 8E
Euro NCAP rating 3 stars (2018) 1 star (2018) 3 stars (2017)

 

Design
7
Comfort
6
Driving
7
Value for Money
7
Safety
6

Summary

The Suzuki Jimny is a proper old-school off-roader equally at home, perhaps more at home on a rocky track as it is the tarmac. It will appeal to a particular kind of buyer who will accept the compromises – a poor safety rating, not a lot of interior room and efficiency figures that don't impress. Off-road, however, it's a lot of fun...
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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