Its certainly been a long wait for a change to the last Suzuki Jimny, 20 years to be exact, but judging from the positive remarks of those that had driven it, and the fact that it had been named a finalist in the prestigious Car of the Year 2019 competition. I knew that I was in for a treat when it was scheduled to Ride & Drive for test. And a delight it turned out to be indeed. From the cool looks that seem very retro, to the wider body to accommodate more fleshy persons, such as myself, to the absolute joy of driving this diminutive(only in size) Jimny on a challenging off-road track.
It comes in two derivatives, namely: the GA & GLX, either manual- 5-speed, or four-speed auto, and includes the ALLGRIP system which has 4×2, 4×4-low range and its famed rigid ladder chassis. We tested the auto version, and although being a bit apprehensive about power issues, it really was a good option. The compact SUV segment is important, for people wanting a capable off-road car that is affordable, fuel efficient and can take them to destinations that are a call to adventure, and the Jimny delivers that in spades.
So lets look at the exterior design of the all new Jimny. It looks the part and then some, with its clam-shell bonnet and squarish design that evoke thoughts of rugged off-road vehicles of the past, but the upturned fenders and round headlamps and some clever styling cues, make it look modern as well. And judging by the waiting lists in various parts of the World, as well as our own country, it must have struck the right chords with buyers. A whole lot of thinking has gone into its design, from the angled front & rear bumpers that keep them from being scratched by rocks, but also increase the entrance and departure angles.
The front bumper design also exposes more of the tyre tread on a horizontal plane for greater climbing capability in rocky off-road conditions. The spare wheel is fitted to the rear door for easy accessibility, while also freeing up space underneath the luggage floor and allowing for an improved departure angle. Fans of the Jimny series will also recognise the design of the GAspecification’s steel wheel, which looks similar to those from previous generations.
From outside, you can distinguish the GA and GLX models by the GLX’s 15” alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles and painted exterior mirrors. The Jimny has a ground clearance of 210 mm, which is 20 mm more than the previous model. We received many admiring glances from other motorists, and you could put this down to curiosity of a new model, but is more likely to be a potential buyer.
Interior design .
The first thing we noticed when getting into the cabin was the increased width- 45mm, which was an issue for bigger people in the previous model. We were quite comfortable sitting two abreast in the front area, being two fairly bigger people. What baffles me somewhat, is the fact that the length of the vehicle has been reduced by 50mm, and this is a drawback, as the boot space is very limited indeed. The dashboard has three distinctive layers, with the retro looking tachometer and speedometer housed in separate square binnacles.
The strong horizontal lines act as visual reference of the horizontal plane when driving off road and it cleverly incorporates an assist-grip and cell-phone tray on the middle level and a glovebox on the lower level. The upholstery is comfortable but hard-wearing, and the moulded dashboard features hard-wearing resin with a mix of a repeating line pattern and, on the lower parts, the same type of grippy texture as on a professional DSLR camera body. We found all the knobs and stalks necessary, tended to be easy to use and reach.
Among the design highlights is a ride-in assist grip for the front passenger, a centre console tray that comfortably fits a phone and houses the accessory and USB sockets and a floor console tray that can hold smartphones upright and can securely hold 500 ml drinks bottles.
All versions of the Suzuki Jimny have air conditioning, power steering and the complete ALLGRIP PRO 4×4 system with Brake LSD, ESP, Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control. The GLX models get a host of additional features, including climate control, electric windows and mirrors, Auto LED projector headlamps, remote central locking and cruise control.
The GLX models are also fitted with Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA). This double-DIN audio system has a 7” infrared-touch screen with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and MirrorLink integration. The system has a USB connector, SD-card slot and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and the most important features can be controlled by buttons on the leather-covered steering wheel.
A huge plus for the all-new Jimny, is that it has replaced the M13A 1.3 litre engine with a new 1.5 litre K15B petrol engine.
The new engine has a higher compression ratio (10.0:1) and greater thermal efficiency to deliver more power, while using less fuel. The new engine is rated at 75 kW at 6 000 rpm and 130 Nm at 4 000 rpm. This gives the Jimny more punch through traffic, but it still seems lacking on a Highway or open road. Around town and on a dirt road this is not as prevalent.
Fuel consumption on a combined cycle has been tested at 6.3 litres for the manual models and 6.8 litres for the automatic model. In contrast, the previous generation Jimny was rated at 7.2 litres and 7.8 litres per 100 km respectively. #(manufacturer claimed figures)
Buyers will have a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. Both gearboxes’ gear ratios have been optimised for the new, more powerful 1.5 litre engine.
The automatic gearbox has also been improved. The internal components were improved to reduce friction and improve shifts, while the gear selector gate has been replaced with a straight shift gate for easier operation. We found the gear change to be smooth, and the ratio was much better between gears.
Off–Road curriculum vitae.
We would be remiss, if we did not expand on probably the strongest feature of the Jimny, which is its prowess off-road. And the back bone of this is the ladder frame chassis. In the new model, Suzuki’s engineers have added a patented cross member, the Suzuki X-member, between the two rigid axles. The X-member consists of two diagonal cross members that further strengthen the chassis. This helps to limit body flex in serious cross-axle off-road driving and also creates a very sturdy platform for the fitment of the body and the underbodyparts. As an additional benefit, the additional torsional strength has improved the Jimny’s on-road driving dynamics and overall crash safety.
The very rigid ladder frame is the basis of the Suzuki Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) system, which integrates high-strength steel, computer-aided design and the rigid platform for greater crash safety.
Sitting atop the ladder frame are eight new rubber mounts. These mounts are vertically softer and horizontally harder than before, for a more comfortable ride and more responsive handling.
The second essential element of a true off roader is the rigid axle suspension system. Rigid axles greatly improve serious off-road capabilities, as they mechanically force one wheel down if the opposite wheel is raised from the ground. Furthermore, the axle system prevents the nose from diving under speed, which is a boon when driving in dunes, and it handles rutted roads with greater ease.
The rigid axles are connected to the wheels with three links – a lateral rod on each wheel and two leading (on the front) and trailing (on the rear) arms.
Suzuki has strengthened the axle housings by 30% and has added a steering damper to the front suspension to limit steering wheel kickback and vibration on rough terrain. The third element: ALLGRIP PRO four-wheel drive with low range transfer gear. The all-new Jimny replaces the push-button selection between 2H (rear-wheel drive), 4H (4WD high gear) and 4L (full low range, 4WD) with a shift lever that is directly connected to the transfer gear and can switch between 2H and 4H on the fly at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
The mechanical four-wheel drive system is greatly enhanced by Suzuki’s proprietary Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control systems.
The Brake LSD-system adjusts torque to the wheel with grip if another wheel on the same axle starts spinning. The system has an extra-power mode, which kicks in below 30km/h in low-range mode for the best possible traction.
Brake LSD is supported by Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control, which are standard on all models. Hill Descent Control will maintain a descent speed of 10km/h in 4WD high range and 5 km/h in 4WD low range, which allows the driver to focus on navigating obstacles, without having to operate the brake pedal.
All these integrated 4×4 assist systems are combined as Suzuki’s proprietary ALLGRIP PRO off-road system and are standard on all models of the new Jimny. The fourth essential element of a good off-roader is its approach, departure and breakover angles.
The all-new Jimny improves on its predecessor’s off-road angles by offering an approach angle of 37 degrees (35 degrees on the previous model), a departure angle of 49 degrees (46 degrees on the predecessor) and a breakover angle of 28 degrees (previously 27 degrees). The departure angle is especially impressive and benefits from the slightly shorter body and redesigned rear bumper.
We have include all this info as it illustrates the reason why this vehicle is so highly rated off-road. We drove it on a fairly technical track, and it completed all tasks and obstacles without getting stuck. This included thick mud & water, and very steep entry and exit angles, obstacles where only three wheels were touching earth. We had a few people from the 4×4 community that were looking on, and they were suitably impressed as well.
Suzuki has made every effort to ensure the safety of the Jimny’s occupants and of pedestrians. The new model has impact-absorbing zones in the bumper, wipers, cowl, bonnet and hinges, and fenders to protect pedestrians. For occupants, the TECT-rated body, additional side-impact bars and two front airbags ensure the best possible passive crash safety.
On the active safety side, all Jimny models are fitted with ABS brakes with emergency brake assistance (BAS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to prevent wheel slip on all wheels and to help the Jimny track true on slippery surfaces and at high speed.
All Jimny models also have ISOFIX child seat anchors, a high mounted brake light and an emergency pedal release system.
Suzuki will offer a wide range of accessories for both city-dwellers and off-road enthusiasts. These include mud flaps, side under-garnish strips, under-garnish for the front bumper, front and rear differential guards, utility and luggage hooks and side body mouldings. There are also an optional SUZUKI heritage front grille that makes reference to the SJ413 Samurai model and a rigid spare wheel cover for enthusiasts who would like to maximise the retro design theme.
Buyers of the new Suzuki Jimny can choose between three dual-tone and five single-tone colours. The dual-tone colours are a new high-visibility Kinetic Yellow, Brisk Blue Metallic and Chiffon Ivory Metallic. These models have a gloss black roof.
The single tone colours are Jungle Green, Bluish Black Pearl, Medium Grey, Silky Silver Metallic and White.
Like all Suzuki models, the Jimny is priced to be accessible to as many people as possible. The GLX model is standard with a 4 year / 60 000 km service plan and the GA model with a 2 year / 30 000 km service plan. All models are sold with a 5 year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty.
JIMNY 1.5 1.5i GA MT (2 yr / 60 000km service plan) R 264 900
1.5i GLX MT R 299 900
1.5i GLX AT R 319 900
Price includes 5yr / 200 000km promotional warranty Retail price includes a 4 yr / 60 000km service plan
To sum up, its clear to see what the furore has been around the launch of the all new Suzuki Jimny, and why it has been made a finalist in Coty 2019, and might I add, probably one of the favourites. It has good looks, is far more comfortable, has been improved with more power, and is still highly regarded and affordable. What’s not to like?