What have Clinton, Lewinsky, the Euro, Britney Spears, Microsoft, Saving Private Ryan, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, All Saints, Furbys, The Chamber Of Secrets and James Cameron’s Titanic all got in common? Given up yet? The answer is that they all rose to prominence way back in 1998, the year that the Titanic Suzuki Jimny was released on to an ever grateful public. And then here we are, at the tale end of 2017, testing the latest iteration of the ever youthful Jimny, a SUV before we knew what an SUV actually was. Perhaps even more surprising though is the fact that that the little Suzuki has barely changed in the intervening years and that what is sat in the car park here at MotorMartin Towers, would still be easily recognisable to those who purchased the original 19 years ago.
But what you’ve got to ask yourself is why? Why have Suzuki, with all of their research and design geniuses beavering away behind the scenes, decided to leave the Jimny pretty much as it was for all of this time? It can’t just be apathy can it?
Suzuki themselves state that: ONE SHORT DRIVE IS NEVER ENOUGH. A sentiment shared by everyone who experiences the Suzuki Jimny. Because with its tough off-road ability, compact dimensions and rugged looks, this unforgettable 4×4 will leave you feeling like you’ve got to get out there again. And again. When the road ahead beckons, what can you expect? A great journey every time. Because while the Jimny is strong and reliable with plenty of solid capabilities, its lightweight body ensures it’s agile and easy to manoeuvre too. A statement that cleverly draws you in and one that gives you an early insight into the reasoning behind any perceived lack of development. Simply put, Suzuki have faith in their little SUV and it’s myriad abilities, making sure that the Jimny was a perfect example of being ‘right first time’
The Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 on test is a striking piece of design that certainly stands the test of time, even in today’s ultra competitive environment. The look of the Jimny is rather set in stone now and that’s no bad thing as what you have is the perfect example of function dictating form. There is nothing on, or indeed in, this little SUV that is unnecessary or extravagant with everything having a purpose an that purpose defining the overall cohesive whole. There’s the tidy, short overhangs that ramp up its of-road ability, smart front fogs, vertical grille and bonnet shape that leave you in no doubt as to this cars reason for being. 190mm of ground clearance not only provide a superb vantage point for the driver and passengers but allow the Suzuki’s 15” alloy wheels to stand out, providing enough bling to satisfy. Tough looking side panels and wheel arches, rear privacy glass and that iconic spare wheel perched on the rear door complete the look and draw you in from the get go.
Inside the cabin and the exteriors successful utilitarian look continues with subtle updates present to raise the quality of the interior over those original cars from way back in 1998. The dashboard epitomises function, telling you exactly what you need to know offering clear dials and a central information panel highlighting fuel and temperature as well as the drive mode selected. The interior is a comfortable place to spend time despite the compact exterior dimensions whilst the large expanses of glass, allow the driver and their front and rear passengers an airy cabin in which to enjoy the drive. Practical features abound with a pair of handy cup holders, a lockable glove box, pockets in all four doors and a decent size storage compartment in the centre console, all of which combine to make journeys of varying length not only possible but positively encouraged. 50:50 split folding rear seats make all kinds of luggage easy to transport and when you need additional boot space, there are 324 litres of space with the back seats folded and 113 litres when they’re not, enough room for the supermarket or a weekend away. You choose.
And when looking at the specifications you begin to realise what excellent value for money the Jimny offers here’s what you get as standard with this SZ4 edition on test: Driver and front passenger airbags, remote central door locking, front fog lamps, black roof rails, spare wheel, CD tuner with DAB digital radio, air conditioning, a 3-spoke leather covered steering wheel, 2-tone black and silver roof rails, body colour exterior door handles, 15” alloy wheels and stunning rear privacy glass that really completes the car and brings it stealthily into the 21st century. Impressive indeed.
Pulling away in the Jimny brings about the first surprise of the day with the throttle unleashing a satisfying amount of ‘go’ allowing the Suzuki to squeeze out into gaps in the traffic whilst making the most of it’s compact exterior dimensions, compact dimensions that also allow the Suzuki great manoeuvrability meaning that getting into and out of tight spots is easy. As is parking of course.
Suzuki have garnered an enviable reputation for their recent run of superb, characterful engines as powering their Swift, Vitara, Ignis et al and the one in this Jimny is no exception to the rule. With 84bhp @ 6000rpm and torque of 81lb/ft @ 4100rpm this is not an engine that will threaten or intimidate but that’s perhaps one of it’s strongest features as this means that you can really use all of the Suzuki’s performance when traversing this green and pleasant land that we are lucky enough to call home. The Jimny is more than able to traverse town centres with ease, using the pull from the 1328cc engine available from low in the rev range whilst it’s raised driving position and immediate steering meaning that effective progress can be made. Outside of town and the Suzuki is more than capable of holding it’s own on both A-roads and Motorways whilst a potential combined mpg of 39.8 is more than acceptable and helps make longer journeys much easier on the wallet.
A 160 mile round trip from Bradford, West Yorkshire to the Crich Tramway Village, Matlock, Derbyshire, undertaken with a full complement of passengers, highlighted the practical nature of the Suzuki and the ease and comfort with which the Jimny transports you and your family to your chosen destination and beyond.
But the Jimny’s bonus card has surely got to be the impressive off road ability that Suzuki have designed into their compact SUV from the very start as with a selectable 4-wheel Drive system, the Jimny can adapt to any terrain you may come up against at the push of a button. Options available are 2WD: for normal on-road driving, with all engine torque going to the rear wheels. 4WD: splits engine torque between the front and rear wheel, for normal off-road conditions or driving in difficult conditions like snow. 4WD-L: engages low ratio gears for maximum off-road performance when it’s needed. In a nutshell, it’ll go anywhere and do anything, and all from just £12,999.
Overall then, the Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 is a retro off roader that just so happens to find itself on the road in 2017 and hopefully beyond. It offers fantastic value for money, especially when you consider that the Suzuki is able to perform superbly off road as it is equipped with exactly the technology needed rather than just paying lip service like some other SUVs that could be mentioned.
On road then or off and the Jimny is a charming mix of old school and modern. It has an engine that delivers in ‘real life’ situations and offers go anywhere, mile eating ability. Combine that with styling that has never gone out of fashion and has, in fact, aged extremely well, a comfortable and practical, well specified interior and what you’ve got is an SUV that is far, far greater than the sum of it’s parts. A contender for MotorMartin Car Of The Year 2017?
Don’t bet against it.
Where will you go?