• Off-road capabilities; honest value; simplistic design; strong brakes
  • No ESC available; some drivetrain noise; light steering; fuel economy

OUR RATING
5 / 10



Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
by Matt Brogan

Enjoy life outdoors without breaking the bank

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Suzuki Jimny Sierra; 1.3-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; five-speed manual; SUV – $20,490*

Options Available:

  • Metallic Paint $475; Alloy Wheels $800 (Fitted)

CarAdvice Rating:

Words by Matt Brogan Pics by Brendan Nish

In one form or another the humble Suzuki Jimny Sierra has been with us for close to 45 years now, and true to its origins, remains a simple, no nonsense, light-weight 4WD offering honest value and tenacious off-road performance.

Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test

From the outside Jimny Sierra offers an inoffensive, amiable appearance that, as dated as it may appear, is nonetheless practical when you stop to consider just where the car feels most at home, and how far off the beaten track it’s prepared to push.

You see this isn’t a soft-roader in the true sense of the word, and what I mean by that is that the Jimny Sierra isn’t a front-wheel drive toy made to look as if it can go off-road. No, this little number actually can go off-road, and has the right suspension, low-range gearbox, plus suitable approach and departure angles to do so.

Sure, it isn’t the first 4WD on every one’s mind as they attempt to tackle the Kimberley, but that’s not what the Jimny Sierra is about.

What it is about is fun. A great little couple’s car for camping, surfing, fishing, or just some time in the bush. Enjoying a life outdoors without breaking the bank, but still having enough off-road capability to make sure you get back.

Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test

Inside the Jimny Sierra is simple but effective. The seating is comfortable, driving position spot-on and visibility superb. In fact the only real issue is the lack of elbow space between you and the door.

Even up back there’s enough space for two adults, though headroom may be tight for those over six-foot, while getting in and out is an easy affair aided by front seats that roll far enough forward to make it a one-step task.

Rear seat passengers also gain storage bins and drink bottle holders under the fixed rear-side windows.

There’s a fair list of standard equipment too, considering the price, with a single CD tuner, air-conditioning, remote central locking, roof racks, power windows and mirrors all included.

Storage is ample with map pockets in the doors, drink holders in the centre console, a decent glove box and small oddments tray all within easy reach. Up back behind the large side-hinged door, Jimny offers 113-litres of cargo space that can be expanded to a whopping 816-litres with the rear seats flipped down, perfect for a couple’s weekend away.

Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test

Powering Jimny Sierra is Suzuki’s 1.3-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine that develops a modest 63kW at 6,000rpm. It’s not exactly breath taking in terms of performance, and with 0-100km/h times slower than some cars run the quarter-mile (14.1 seconds), it isn’t exactly what you’d call quick. But again, to think of this car in that light is missing the point.

Jimny Sierra makes a gallant effort with what little it has, and in mating the little 110Nm of torque on offer to a well cogged five-speed manual gearbox (with push button 4WD and low-range settings), Suzuki have extracted an ample level of motivation for most situations, provided that is you don’t wish to overtake anyone.

What does let the Jimny Sierra down is its light steering and super-firm rear suspension that, coupled with a very short wheelbase, cause a complete lack of feel at highway speeds and a susceptibility to both camber and cross wind. Couple this to the obvious mechanical noise from the drivetrain and highway trips are, well… less than pleasant.

Safety comes compliments of dual front airbags, three-point inertia reel seatbelts and ABS brakes, that I might add are surprisingly strong. ESC and Traction Control are not available. Metallic paint and alloy wheels (fitted) are available for a modest cost.

While it’s a great little machine around town and off-road, getting to your favourite camping spot may well be a little tedious given the pairing of a small 40-litre fuel tank to a consumption figure we tested at 9.4L/100km. But if you’re prepared to stop a few times – and endure a slightly rugged ride – the Jimny Sierra may well be a good option to those chasing big fun from a small budget.

Ratings:

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
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SUZUKI JIMNY BREAKDOWN

Suzuki Jimny Sierra Review & Road Test
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  • davie

    I agree with this review. These vehicles are a proper off-road 4WD shrunken down to a small size. The great advantage is that they are so light that they simply roll over the top of mud/sand that heavier vehicles get bogged in.

    We hired one on Fraser island and it was near unstoppable off road. Nothing really phased it and it crossed soft sand, rivers and terrain which some heaver 4wd’s couldnt do (indian head). At times it was quite bouncy though.

    Its nice that after all that off roading, you can put it back into 2WD hit the bitumen and have a nice small city sized car which has great visibility, incredibly easy to drive, is easy to park and no bigger than a Mazda2

    • Tomas79

      I agree this little offroad is a great proper offroader!!
      And it’s little dimensions are what contributes to it’s excellent offroad agility!
      But them being light and just rolling over mud/sand is not quite true…
      This is because they come with fairly skinny tires, even though they are fairly light, they still manage a fiarly average force/area figure in terms of tire/ground contact.

      • Tony

        that explains the fuel consumption

        this would be a great car if you were a farmer used the 4wd ability everyday but it sounds like you are carting around a lot of 1980s technology 90% of the time for that 10% of the time when you are actually offroad

        • Josh

          I get about 12 to 14 km per litre but rarely use the air conditioning, you really need to change down a gear as you turn that on :).

          Josh

      • davie

        dont know the physics of it but when we hit the soft stuff, we didnt have to lower tire pressure and it just kept going through it all.

        I noticed that the big 4wds all had to lower tire pressure or they got bogged.

        Either way, I have a lot of respect for this little mighty-mite. It would be a great 2nd car/weekender if I could afford one.

        • Callous Aussie

          This vehicles has always been great off road. I read a test many years ago where they took all the main 4×4′s around Australia ,there were sonething like 15-29 vehicles involved.

          The sierra came second only to the landcruiser for off road ability. Due to its shorter whellbase it was able to go over obstacles many couldn’t. Its light weight meant it wouldn’t bog when other did. It was more economical also. The only area the big vehicles beat it was river crossing in a current.

          So yeah, it is a truly capable 4×4.

  • Tony

    a 1.3 that only pushes a ton that does 9.4 litres per 100 is pretty poor

    they should make it completely RWD during the city cycle instead of this part time stuff

    • Tomas79

      Tony, Part-time 4wd means it’s only in 2wd(RWD) when in city cycle (on paved roads with high traction). Part-Time only 4wds such as the jimny don’t have centre differential and therefore engaging the 4wd on road would damage the driveline. On Part-time 4wds you are sopousto only engage the 4wd when off-road…

    • G

      It is a RWD when “2WD” is selected. The Jimny is not an “active” 4WD that engages the other wheels like the SX4, for example. The Jimny is a “2WD” or a “4WD”, when “4WD” is selected, and it can actually be selected with the vehicle in motion (up to 100km/h), without affecting anything. You just have to stop to engage the “4WD-L” for low range.

  • Tom R

    Say…. that engine….. you think it wouldn’t mind a turbocharger being plugged on?

    • Simon

      Nice in theory but then you’d get even less mileage and buying cost would go up.

  • Simon

    Begs the question why a small capacity turbo diesel isn’t in the mix.
    Big increase in torque, in gear acceleration and mileage for a small penalty in engine weight.
    Swift has been equipped with a Fiat 1.3 TD in other markets providing 51KW/170NM. With the Jimny you would expect over 600KM per tank and an increase of 35% torque.

    • davie

      I think the european market has a diesel jimny/sierra

      • Andrew S

        the diesel is out of a Pegeot… Turbo Diesel… Australia just doesnt get it as it would be “too functional”…

        • adrian

          the diesel model is only left hand drive for the euro market

  • joe walsh

    Great little vehicle but too expensive, small and underpowered. The Sierra LWB should have been upgraded to take the up the void when the subaru brumby was discontinued.
    The GWM 4×4 x240? thing is larger and cheaper than this suzuki and may steal sales, not that I would touch one.

  • toxic_horse

    I would rather a GWM than one of these.
    to small!!

    • Dlr1

      Suzuki realises that it is too small for some people. Thats why they have a 3 door Grand Vitara. it answers most peoples complaints about the Jimny/Sierra

      • joe walsh

        I’ll take a 3 door Grand Vitara anyday over a GWM x-box240 thing.
        This Jimny Sierra thing is a better buy or the next step up from an expensive quad bike or ATV (of similar cost) for rural use.

  • Callous Aussie

    This vehicles has always been great off road. I read a test many years ago where they took all the main 4×4’s around Australia ,there were sonething like 15-29 vehicles involved.

    The sierra came second only to the landcruiser for off road ability. Due to its shorter whellbase it was able to go over obstacles many couldn’t. Its light weight meant it wouldn’t bog when other did. It was more economical also. The only area the big vehicles beat it was river crossing in a current.

    So yeah, it is a truly capable 4×4.

  • Mitch

    Needs to be modernised but without losing its 4×4 ability

  • Captain Mainwaring

    I can’t believe that this old dog-biscuit of a car is still in production. Great for guys who have to check cellphone towers up in the mountains but pretty compromised for anything else.

    • Callous Aussie

      It wouldn’t be if people didn’t want it. It’s clearly doing something right. It also has a cult following with the surfing community. Light weight and 4×4 is a winner on sand.

  • Whitbomb07

    Throw a turbo diesel in it (pref somewhere around the 200Nm mark) and I’d seriously consider it.

    Regards

    Whitbomb07

  • jay

    It needs the M15 engine frome the Swift at the very least…

  • Robin Graves

    I’ll think you’ll find the economy isnt as good as a FWD of simialr capacity because of the aerodynamics and the friction and inertia associated with turning all the extra driveline equipment. Even if its only RWD when the transfer case is in 2WD mode, the front axles, diff and drive shaft are still passively turned by the front wheels, unless it has free-wheeling hubs? These cars have a niche market and anyone who buys one does so for their unstoppable off-road capabilities, not trendy looks or fuel economy comparable to a mazda2

  • milkyway

    Took this car through a hardcore jungle trail in South East Asia and it was on song the entire trip. Sail through muddy stretches and crossed rivers with the greatest of ease. It led a convoy of landcruisers, RangeRover, Prados, Jeep Cherokee, Pajero and Lada Niva throughout the journey stopping occasionally only to allow the Jeep Cherokee to catch up. The Jeep had to be retired half way and left behind while the Lada surprisingly performed quite well.
    We realised that deep in a tropical jungle, bhp and torque is useless if there is no agility. This car has the right balance of size, simplicity of set up and power-to-weight ratio – features that made it such a jungle warrior.

  • daniel

    I own a jimny for about 1 year now. For my driving style and i drive mostly surburban road with some off road, my fuel consumption is around 6.7-7.5L/100km. The tested consumption stated above of 9.4L/100km seems unusually high. They must be pushing it fully loaded and really revving it.

    • http://www.flectronics.com flectronics.com

      I have owned my Jimny now for 1 year… I only get 400km if that per tank. So if some one could work out that for me would be great. But it doesnt help when i get Piranha Off Roads to do their thing to it before leaving the Suzuki’s factory floor from Brand new hehehehe .. It now has 15″ x 32 mud duelers.. the brand new original suspension has been ripped out & replaced with rock crawling suspension ( with out being over done ) with a lift kit.. It has front & rear ARB air diff locks .. diff breathers modified & higher .. ARB bull bar that has been reinforced to take a 12 lbs winch .. a heavy duty wiring loom to replace the crap Suzuki put in so i can run higher wattage globes … diving lights & UHF radio with custom maid side door protectors for the rocks ..

      now it runs like a 100 year old turtle but it is unstoppable off-road .. i am wanting to take it around Australia & up through the Kimberli’s & cape york .. yes i would need to take a few cans of fuel with me hehehe LOL piss poor fuel consumption..

      plans are for extractors & 2″ exhaust .. and a couple other mods in the future .. maybe a long range fuel tank .. that’s if i can find a spot for it ..

      Long live the Jimny Sierra .. Happy 40Th Birthday Suzuki Jimny Sierra

  • Linas

    I’m a Jimny owner for 2 years now. It’s an amazing little car!
    1. Off-roader – with this car we passed any mud “road” in front of us.
    2. Travel budy – we get about 8l/100km and if you take out rear seats, you get a huge luggage space behind you which is great when traveling. I wouldn’t recommend it for autobahns with 130+ km/h though. It’s most comfortable <100km/h.
    3. Fun car – believe it or not, you can have much fun _drifting_ the Jimny (in RWD mode) on snowy roads. You just need to watch out for that "back swing" as Jimny has a big body roll. As for the power, when you rev up a Jimny, you feel a bit like on a motorcycle (from good side) :)
    4. City car – another place where Jimny shines. Its economy is good, but, most importantly: you sit high, thus it's easy to see what's happening in front. Also, as it's a light car for a 4×4 (1150 kg) and short, in the city it's great to maneuver. But the biggest plus comes when you need to park it: no overhangs nor in the front nor in the back means you'll not hit any high borders, and it's always easy to find a place for a short and narrow car.

  • Andrew S

    alright guys – heres a write up from a guy thats owned one for the last 4 years. I dont care for the rebadging of the Sierra name, thats a load of crap, they changed it to the jimny and thats all it is, the Sierra was a true 4BY but the jimny went soft for the sake of modernisation…

    Now I have driven the Jimny to Bundy twice, Coffs Harbour twice, been here and there and beached it a few times. I have BF Goodies AT’s and a K&N pannel filter thats all… No other modifications other than aesthetic or neccessary…

    The car has a little under 50,000kms on the dial and its suffered its fair share of bad engineering from Suzuki…

    I would find it quiet sure that any Suzuki Australia person from warranty or claims would know me quiet well, although my new mechanic from Zupps has been the best with dealing with the issues that have arrisen.

    I really need to say how lacking Suzuki is in warranty! They are below hopeless unless you really threaten them otherwise they will walk all over you and say ‘tough’, alsoo their network of service departments eg: Von Bibra and Zupps are quiet lacking in technical expertise other than Helensvale Zupps!…

    The car has suffered from King Pin Bearing failure in the right hand wheel, and then the left went a little odd, the steering subsequently was VERY shakey, and yes no steering dampener would fix it. Shims were needed and Zupps didnt have a clue… Its been back and forwards to be fixed on about a dozen times – no joke!!! The last time shims were added and the whole front end rebuilt and even the discs remachined, which this fixed that issue of steering shake.

    The fuel economy thats stated on the Suzuki Australia web page is FALSE, the 7.3 Liters is absolutly garbage, the fuel economy is somewhere about 10liters to 12 liters at times. The engine runs Castrol edge and new plugs every 15,000kms. Although even with inspection the engine remains thirsty, who knows??

    The offroad prowess of the vehicle is exactly that. Its amazing off road be it in long grassed fields, climbing embankments getting off the highway, on the beach and soft stuff or just mucking around its pretty damn good or as good as the driver, although a spare jerry with fuel is absolutly neccessary!!!

    You know the car has been good in general, although coming from a Mitsubishi Mirage that was flogged every day for 6 years this car is somewhat a lot less reliable that that vehicle, and it hasnt done as much hard work.

    For those that want a small 4WD for weekends away its a definate go’er but for those that need to commute and get around the place its a bit o a dog. They’ve been really lazy on the whole interior and making useable room, also the interior plastics arent too bad but in general like someone else said – its 1980′s technology in new skin…

    So the question looms…. Anyone want to buy my Jimny thats had its front end diff rebuilt about a dozen times and although has been really looked after???

    Ha ha thought not…

  • http://franc.lauder@gmail.com Frank Lauder

    I have had 6 Suzies over the years. Currently 1999 Jimny with over 400,000 ks does a mail run 5 days a week about 1500ks each week mainly on rough dirt roads.
    Problems: All shock and swaybar mounts broken, reinforced and OK. Stock shocks last about 6mths, replaced with TJM matched springs and shocks about 2 years ago still OK.
    Front end: king pins break regulary replace all 4 and bearings it is important to replace steering knuckle rubber seal and adjust on a regular basis as this acts as a steering damper.
    Engine, gearbox, diffs oll OK, secret frequent oil and all filter changes.
    Drivers seat replaced about 2years ago. Window glass tracks need to be reinforced as the spot welds break. All plastic body panels secured with junk fasteners. replaced with bolts and tec screws. Overall a great little car, ideal for the job it has to do.

  • Cos Mango

    My truth on this car is that its a little underpowered. Throw in 80kw, a 6th gear and a set of rear speakers and you got yourself an awesome daily driver that can take you well and truly off the beaten track when needed. Bought a 2009 Sierra Jimny, with the revised M13A engine, and its been a pleasure to own and drive. $40 premium gets me 400 to 420 kays and that’s giving it a good serve as often as this bullshit Sydney traffic will allow me to. Seriously stoked with this capable little beast, optioned up with a set of roof racks, luggage box and tow bar and a family of 4 can travel up and down the coast comfortably and safely. Imaging how far the XP coupe or the XY GT would have come if Ford had stuck to such wining formulas. Easy to park and nice to look at – Watching this space for the next update.

  • Lee Mazengarb

    They are a great car.
    For what they are they do a far better job off road then u would think.
    Unstoppable.
    Quite often find urself rescueing much bigger far more expensive cars.
    They float, so watch in deep river crossings. Get out and walk beside it pulling it along.
    Did I mention they are light, easy to get out of odd predicaments that the bigger heavier cars need a lot of help with.

  • colin

    just purchased one 750kms on the clock and has a steering wheel vibration at 70 – 85kmh from new had it back to dealer they did what they could but no fix. Look on the web this is a problem and some say a design fault and difficult to resolve. I have to wait another 2 weeks when a suzuki rep turns up fingers crossed.

  • colin

    found the vibration problem i jacked up the wheels on the front end and spun them by hand the left wheel had a flat spot so i swaped it for the spare tyre and this almost removed all of the steering wheel vibration the right hand wheel must have a slight flat spot the car probably sat in a parking lot for some time at the factory

  • amanda

    I am glad others have come across the dreaded “steering wobble” , i am just going through the start of this always had the odd random wobble between 70-80kms but not constant usually under braking.
    I recently had a rather close incounter with a roo and found the shudder/wobble to be very unerving just acelerating above 70kms-80kms caused severe steering wobble. Had a balance,rotation and aliment today now we are back to wobbling when braking between previous mentioned speeds. i love this little car and have a ball with it offroad. we have even gone places in 2wd where a fully modified jeep couldn’t go in 4wd. hopefully my local 4wd company will help to fix this. go the jimny!!!!!

  • Andrea

    I am on my third wobble! It is the front Kingpin bearings. Suzuki repair agents should know this but I think they choose to ignore it. I had the first one fixed under warranty but have paid for the second and now in need of a third. I would love to know what causes this problem, as It’s not a cheap fix.

  • Robbie

    Looking at a jimney at the moment, bit concerned about this wobble in the steering that people have talked about. Has anyone found out what causes it, and is it a particular year model??? Andrea mentions the kingpin bearings, is this where the problem is?

Suzuki Jimny Specs

JLX : 1.3L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 4 SP AUTOMATIC 4x4 - UNLEADED PETROL - 2D WAGON
Car Details
Make
SUZUKI
Model
JIMNY
Variant
JLX
Series
UPGRADE
Year
2009
Body Type
2D WAGON
Seats
4
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
1.3L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
110Nm @  4500rpm
Max. Power
60kW @  5500rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
57.1W/kg
Bore & Stroke
78x69.5mm
Compression Ratio
9.5
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
4 SP AUTOMATIC 4x4
Drive Type
FOUR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
4.09
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
40
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.8L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1050
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1670mm
Length
3625mm
Width
1600mm
Ground Clearance
195mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1300  Unbrake:350
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
BALL & NUT - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
9.8
Front Rim Size
5.5Jx15
Rear Rim Size
5.5Jx15
Front Tyres
205/70 R15
Rear Tyres
205/70 R15
Wheel Base
2250
Front Track
1355
Rear Track
1365
Front Brakes
DISC
Rear Brakes
DRUM
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Driver
Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 4 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors, Roof Racks
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package
Security
Central Locking Remote Control
Optional Features
Control & Handling
Alloy Wheels
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
12-G-7
Country of Origin
JAPAN