Rarely does a vehicle model last almost half a century but Suzuki has achieved just that with the Jimny Sierra, the iconic compact 4X4, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
The Jimny over the years has evolved to meet the changing needs of its users in 188 countries and regions around the globe, additionally it has always remained true to the concept of compactness and full-fledged 4x4 capabilities.
Suzuki Australia General Manager, Tony Devers says very few vehicles can lay claim to creating history but the Jimny has earned its place in the history books.
Devers believes the success of the compact 4x4 boils down to the versatility and substance that the Jimny Sierra offers to its legion of dedicated fans.
“It has carved out a unique market position thanks to versatility that enables it to handle everything from the urban jungle to working in the toughest 4x4 arena,” says Devers.
In 1968, Suzuki began engineering a new breed of vehicle, the compact 4x4, which was built on a ladder frame and powered by a tiny 360cc two-stroke engine developing just 24 horsepower.
The engine, which produced just 19 kW and 36 Nm, was a solid performer in tough, off-road conditions, making Australia’s rugged terrain an ideal choice for Suzuki as an export market.
It was not until the second generation LJ20’s debut at the 1974 Melbourne Motor Show that Australians first witnessed the Jimny.
Maintained by a two cylinder 360 cc two-stroke engine, it quickly garnered a legion of Australian fans for its competitive pricing against the bigger, more expensive 4WDs of that time.
In 1975, the more powerful three-cylinder LJ50 and LJ51 pick-up arrived, many of which can be found still performing farm duties today across the country.
The LJ50 and LJ51 were upgraded in 1978 with an 800 cc four-cylinder, before being replaced in 1981 by the second generation Suzuki Jimny, codenamed SJ410.
With an enlarged wheelbase of 203 cm and a length of 319.5 cm, the engine grow to 1.0 litre, lifting power to 34 kW and torque to 74 Nm.
In 1984 it was replaced by the SJ413, with engine capacity increasing to 1.3 litres and boasting a five-speed transmission, figures rose to 47 kW and 104 Nm.
This vehicle stayed in production, with various versions including pick-ups and soft-tops, until October 1998, when the current generation Jimny arrived.
The completely redesigned Jimny still offered the same value for money but with a newer, rounded look and the option of automatic transmission for the first time.
Despite added extras of a CD player and air-conditioning, engine capacity remained the same at 1.3 litres, but now featured an all aluminum construction and power of 62.5 kW.
With a starting retail price of just $20,490, the Jimny Sierra continues to also be the most fuel-efficient petrol SUV in the country, with an economy rating of only 7.0 L/100 km.
“It continues to attract new fans, with 2010 sales up 18 per cent and we look forward to another record year as one of Australia’s favourite 4x4s celebrates 40 years,” says Devers.