By Ian Strachan
Sometimes it’s nice to drive a car which doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. There are far too many “crossover” vehicles which look as if they could take on any terrain but would struggle to cross a grass verge. Equally, too many four wheel-drive vehicles have been given the “sporty” treatment – meaning they may not be as rugged as they pretend to be.
With the Suzuki Jimny you get exactly what it looks like – a small lightweight, four wheel-drive go-anywhere off-roader. The Jimny has been doing what it does best for nearly 50 years, and its fourth generation loses non of its practicality or functionality.
Sure, the latest Jimny has a few more creature comforts and some useful technology, but it retains its traditional ladder-frame chassis for optimum off-roading, its lack of weight which prevents it getting bogged down, and long travel suspension.
The Jimny sits high on the road, giving it a purposeful ready-for-anything stance. It is unashamedly box like, making maximum use of its interior space, and its low clamshell bonnet gives the driver great visibility.
Despite its lack of weight, it isn’t particularly frugal. It will give you 41.5 miles to the gallon in mixed driving, but this is essentially a short journey vehicle and its engine isn’t exactly cutting edge. That said, it is the most technically advanced Jimny, giving you dual sensor brake support, hill descent control, lane departure warning and high-bean assist; things you wouldn’t have dreamed of in the Jimny when it first hit the streets in 1970.
The Jimny I tested was powered by the 1.5 litre four-cylinder 101 bhp petrol engine. It’s not the quietest engine in the world – and you don’t get much sound-proofing – but it has sprightly performance with a maximum speed of 90 mph. My test car came with a pleasant five-speed manual box. A four-speed automatic is available.
The Jimny has an upright but well laid out and comfortable interior. Seats are quite small, but comfortable and supportive and instruments are clear and well laid out. The whole of the interior feels pleasant and light – a nice place to be. Luggage space is as small as you would expect. With the rear seats up you’ll fill the luggage capacity with a briefcase and a handbag, but fold the rear seats down and you have a small, square van.
The latest Jimny gives you a stable and safe ride, with less body roll on cornering than I remember from previous iterations. The car feels glued to the road, but still provides light handling and driver involvement.
Equipment levels on the Jimny in the SZ5 trim level I tested are surprisingly good, with climate control, cruise control, DAB radio and CD player, satellite navigation with Smartphone link, Bluetooth connectivity, front foglamps, 15-inch alloys and heated front seats. The Jimny 1.5 in SZ5 trim level comes at £17,999 on the road.
The latest Jimny hasn’t lost any of its charm, while sitting comfortably in the 21st century. It will still put a smile on your face.