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.
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.
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.
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.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: