Let’s just park all this serious car-buying chitchat for a few minutes and talk about the 2021 Suzuki Jimny.
As it is clear that regardless of your requirements for a three-row family wagon, a luxurious tech-fest saloon or perhaps a multi-tonne tow-capable double-cab, you kind of want a Jimny.
Not for any real reason, just to have one. And, yeah… I get it.
Suzuki’s ultra-lovable $28,490 (before options and on-road costs) lightweight go-anywhere cheer box is like one of those ridiculous puppies that seem to be made out of a bathmat. There’s no rational reason for owning one, but you can’t help yourself.
And really, is this a bad thing?
Can’t driving be about irreverent fun?
|2021 Suzuki Jimny|
|Engine configuration||1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||75kW @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||130Nm @ 4000rpm|
|Drive type||Selectable four-wheel drive with low-range|
|Power to weight ratio||69.8kW/t|
|Fuel claim (combined)||6.4L/100km|
|Fuel use (combined)||8.2L/100km|
|Main competitors||You buy a Jimny or you don't|
As when you are the Mayor of Jimny-town, it is certainly not about practicality. The swing-out tailgate, with spare neatly mounted, reveals a paltry 85L shelf that can barely fit a backpack.
Fold the 50:50 split seats down for a total of 830L, and enjoy the neat and easy to clean resin floors of your now flat-floor two-seat runabout. Don’t feel too bad either, as rear-seat access is hard enough for anyone over the age of six, let alone the provision of any adequate space and comfort back there for passengers.
Again, this is okay as your friends will probably want to just stand outside and take photos of your Jimny for Instagram. Which is naturally assuming your car has its own account, because of course, it does.
Available in six fun colours (metallic is a $695 option, whereas two-tone like our Chiffon Ivory car is $1295), the Jimny nails the ‘modern-retro’ brief in the same way the first ‘new’ Mini did in 2001.
Big round headlamps, chunky contrasting grille, fender flares and bumpers, and a literal two-box design, the little Suzuki is the most compact 4x4 on the market. At just 3480mm long, the Jimny is shorter than a Kia Rio or Toyota Yaris.
There’s plenty of function in the form, too. For example, the roof that at first seems too big for the car is designed to catch water so that you don’t get wet when opening your doors (assuming that it has stopped raining when you do this). And, the flat bonnet is there to make sure you have an understanding of where the extremities of the car are on challenging terrain.
|2021 Suzuki Jimny|
Behind the wheel, retro design and functional simplicity are also key.
The instruments, two large dials that flank a small LCD screen, are clear to read and provide decent basic information.
The rest of the switchgear is easy to use on the move, with larger buttons and grip surfaces used in place of more ‘modern’ touch surfaces. The materials are honest and hard-wearing, but at no point will you describe the cabin as luxurious.
You will find some niceties like digital air-conditioning controls, power windows and mirrors, and Suzuki’s simple but well-featured 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as offering an integrated navigation system, vision for the rear-view camera, and support for Bluetooth telephone and audio functions.
There’s plenty of storage, too, with twin cupholders, phone, coin and wallet holders, and a reasonable glovebox. You also get a traditional ‘geezus-bar’ for your not-so-adventure-centric passenger to grip with white knuckles. Fun!
The seats are also a no-fuss affair, with cloth trim, decent base support and good bolstering.
|2021 Suzuki Jimny|
|Colour||Chiffon Ivory – Metallic|
|Options as tested||$1295 (paint)|
|ANCAP safety rating||Three-star (2018)|
Powering the Zuke is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a suitably modest 75kW and 130Nm available. And no, compared to the just-announced Land Rover Defender V8’s 386kW, this isn’t much – but if you consider the 1991 Suzuki Sierra (the Jimny’s grandparent) had just 49kW, this one does okay.
To be fair, though, the five-speed manual transmission makes our car feel a little more sprightly and fun around town, but as soon as you find a decent hill or need to maintain a head of speed above 80km/h, the anti-aerodynamic blocky body and severe lack of horses do become more apparent.
On the open road, too, the Jimny’s composure is more newborn foal than a seasoned racehorse, as the skinny 195mm Yokohama tyres and 210mm ground clearance give it an elevated centre of gravity and somewhat twitchy nature.
It is light, too, both on its feet when steering and in general, as it tips the scales at just 1075kg.
That means corrugations, wind gusts and occasionally even large bugs can be felt by the Jimny as you power along. One upside, however, is a claimed fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km on a combined cycle. Our week saw a bit higher than that, at 8.2L/100km, but it did include a fair amount of urban plus some off-road driving.
It’s quite noisy, though, with wind, tyre and engine noise resonating into the cabin. Lucky for that CarPlay support, huh!
But all of those tarmac touring foibles are instantly forgotten once the going gets rough.
The Jimny’s simple ladder-frame chassis, coil springs and solid axles at both ends give it a tremendously capable and reliable amount of ability and articulation over challenging terrain.
There is a 37-degree approach, 28-degree break-over and massive 49-degree departure angle set, too, meaning that the lack of big numbers under the bonnet is no longer a concern for being able to traverse some tricky terrain.
Suzuki’s Allgrip Pro four-wheel-drive system offers high- and low-range gearing with support for both an uphill hold and downhill descent function.
What’s more, the traction-control program includes a ‘simulated’ locking system, whereby free-spinning wheels will be automatically braked, allowing tyres with grip to receive power and drive the car forward with traction.
We put the little guy through some light-duty obstacles and found it only struggled with very slick mud sections under low momentum. Each time we needed to clear, it was simply a matter of getting a better run-up and trying again. Success every time.
Engine response works best at mid-to-high engine speed, with peak torque of 130Nm available at 4000rpm.
The power steering also feels more accurate in off-road conditions, as you are able to easily manoeuvre and position the little Suzuki as needed, the light touch assisting with any finer adjustments needed on the fly.
In fact, the only thing that impresses more than the Jimny’s ability off-road is the sheer amount of fun you have while driving it. You bump around in inelegant ways, you hear everything that is going on under the bonnet and then under the car, there’s not a lot of refinement anywhere near you, but I can guarantee there’s a smile on your face a mile wide while doing so.
No, it doesn’t have a five-star ANCAP rating, but there are six airbags and AEB. It won't tow much, carry much or even fit much, but you can get roof racks from the dealer. And after spending a long day behind the wheel, you’ll probably need a good old stretch, but in the world of Jimny that’s just what you’ve signed up for.
The 2021 Suzuki Jimny is the car we all want, for the very simple reason that it doesn’t take its life too seriously. It is a capable and cost-effective little adventurer that’s low on luxe but big on heart.
It makes very little sense for most of us to drive, and even less sense for any of us to own, but in terms of allowing a great big slice of cheery fun into your life, the Jimny simply delivers where very little else can.