Suzuki Jimny SZ526 | 11 | 2018Scotcars rating

    It's a case of "See You Jimny", as Suzuki launches tiny car with big boots to fill

    IT’S TITCHY; IS ONE of the most anticipated cars of the year; will only sell around 1200 in the UK annually; and there’s already a 12-month waiting list. The second generation Suzuki Jimny has, indeed, caused quite a stir. (Watch our video as we take the new Suzuki Jimny offroad)

    Why the massive anticipation? The first-gen Jimny, which was on sale continuously for 20 years, has something of a cult following. Why? It’s as hard as nails; and it has this inherent ability to conquer whatever is thrown at it when it comes to heading offroad. (Related: Suzuki reveals 2019 Jimny prices)

    First-off, there’s no getting away from the second-gen car’s retro looks. Forget any thoughts of aerodynamic lines honed in wind tunnel tests. The new Jimny is akin to a shoe box — ok, it measures 3480mm, but you get the gist — on wheels. A Tonka toy come to life. It’s all right angles, straight lines and pointy bits. (Related: Subtle facelift for Suzuki Vitara)

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    Priced from £15,499 for a manual SZ4 to £18,999 for an automatic SZ5, I grabbed the keys to a Jimny SZ5, which will set you back £17,999.

    Powered by a naturally aspirated, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder 101bhp petrol engine, and combined with its ladder-frame chassis and three-link rigid axle suspension, the Jimny is totally focused on filling a very small niche. But such is the demand for the car, that it appears to be a ‘small niche’ filled by a lot of people. (Related: Roadtest — Suzuki Swift Sport)

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    Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first: how does it cope as a road car, given the previous generation’s reputation for bouncing about all over the place, and having the sound insulation akin to sitting next to a drummer in a rock band.

    Well, there’s a definite improvement. Don’t get me wrong; you wouldn’t want to tackle a lengthy drive on either a motorway, or even a good A-road in it because there’s still — certainly by modern day standards — a lot of noise from the tyres, engine and around the mirrors, and the steering’s a tad vague. But over all, it’s a massive improvement over its predecessor.

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    Sure it leans into corners, and you do find yourself constantly adjusting the steering and having to raise your voice to speak to your passenger. But strangely, stick with it till the cars reaches around 60mph and there seems to be a sweet spot where the reasonance of all the sounds balance. Ok, it’s not peaceful, but it’s certainly quieter than bouncing around at 30mph.

    Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who buys a Jimny knows what they’re getting, and will trade any perceived weakness in its ‘road car’ performance for it’s core strength: mudplugging.

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    No surprise then that I headed into the mud and glaur of a demanding offroad course deep in the Stoneleigh Park near Coventry. This is the true domain of the Jimny. In these conditions, it’s damn near unstoppable. While a Land Rover Defender got stuck and had to be hauled out, the relatively lightweight Jimny — it tips the scales at just 1135kg — merrily skipped through the same section untroubled.

    Boasting better approach, departure and rake angles, allied to huge articulation from its rigid axles, the wee Suzuki is also fitted with hill descent control and the Japanese carmaker’s most advanced All Grip Pro four-wheel-drive system.

    Challenged by axle-deep mud, and whether climbing up or easing down brutally steep, slippery and slimy muddy slopes, the Jimny destroyed whatever was put in front of it.

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    Quite simply, it was in its element. This is why the Jimny has such a massive cult following. Where others fail to succeed, the wee Suzuki will plough on remorselessly and ensure you don’t need to get your best brogues muddy.

    There are other major plus points to the new Jimny. The cabin is a pretty neat place to be. Despite the Jimny’s relatively diminutive 1.7m height, occupants get a commanding view of the road thanks to the seats position. And because of its boxy shape, visibility is excellent. Controls are chunky and easy to operate — Suzuki highlight they’ve been special designed to be able to be operated by someone wearing gloves! — and there’s even a seven-inch infotainment system.

    Surfaces, rather than soft-touch are — sensibly — wipe-clean. And there are creature comforts, including DAB radio, cruise control, air con and, certainly in SZ5 spec, heated seats. Hurrah!

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    Boot stowage is functional … as long as you’re not planning on taking a lot: with the rear seats in place you can just about squeeze in 85-litres of stuff.

    Its other big attraction is its cute, purposeful looks. Honestly, it’s one of the best-looking cars of the year. It’s like a ‘baby’ Mercedes G Wagon or Hummer. The upright pillars boost visibility, while the flat bonnet ensures you can always see the corners of the car. Suzuki designers even created a dip in the front side widows to improve the view out.

    The Jimny is one of these cars which definitely stand alone. There really isn’t anything quite like it in the market. On paper, it’s a B-segment SUV, which would put it against the likes of the Kia Stonic, Nissan Juke and Ford Ecosport.

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    The reality though is somewhat different. While they are road-focused, the Jimny’s favoured environment is offroading, and scampering through mud. It’s also nowhere near as refined or spacious as the three mainstream models.

    In many ways though, that’s what sets it aside. It is different. It has its own identity. It has its own skill set … and it is tiny. Personally, I love it: but I know I couldn’t live with it on a daily basis.

    For those who know and love the previous generation Jimny, switching to this new model is a no-brainer. If you’re planning to become a new member of the Jimny family, just make sure you’ve done your homework and you’re sure it meets ALL your requirements.

    Related: Roadtest — Suzuki Swift

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill

     

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £17,999 / £17,999
    Engine / Power: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, petrol with 5-spd manual / 101bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph n/a / Max 90mph
    How big/heavy?: L3480mm W1645mm H1725 / 1135kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 41.5mpg combined / 154g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / £515 Year 1; £140 Year 2
    Alternatives: Jeep Wrangler, Kia Stonic, Nissan Juke and Land Rover Discovery

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