ROAD TEST: Suzuki Jimmy 1.3 Adventure
It's a word banded about a lot, usually unjustifiably and frequently for expensive, exclusive, often pretentious and predictable stuff in the car world.
But the humble Suzuki Jimny – now an incredible four decades into production and with tens of thousands of units sold globally – wears the tag well, we think.
Suzuki's diminutive 4WD takes its roots from way back in 1968, with the LJ10 and its tiny 359cc two-stroke motor, leading to the LJ20 (Little Jeep BTW) and then SJ10/20 models, which were the first to bear the Jimny nomenclature, way back in 1975. And the first generation of Jimny as we know it started in 1981-1998, when the current design style took over, recently and radically updated in 2013 with its retire-modernity branding and now with a new primarily digital dashboard design, cool wheels, improved safety and tech-boost.
The "high value, high fun" 4x4, with its dash-mounted, on-the-move-switchable 2WD (rear, one of the Jimny's core fun characteristics), 4WD and low ratio transfer 4WD system, rugged retro looks, peppy & economical (c40mpg combined) 85 bhp, 81 Lbft, 1328cc 16V M13A engine and compact size starts at just £12,499 OTR, for a SZ3 model. Bargain!
Then there's the range-topping SZ4 from £13,949 (manual) and £14,849 (auto, which is nowhere near as economical or fun, so the dealers tell me!), offering leather seats, air con and nicer 15-inch alloys. Or you can now plumb for the limited edition Jimny Adventure, as tested at £14,949 OTR.
Suzuki says: "The classic design, small lightweight chassis and rugged 4x4 capability are exactly what you’d expect from the Jimny but the limited edition ‘adventure’ gives you even more. There’s Satellite Navigation, limited edition 2-tone metallic colour and a unique hard spare wheel cover (with Adventure logo), all of which really make the adventure stand out from the pack. If you want to get your hands on the limited edition Jimny Adventure then hurry as you really don’t want to miss out."
Truth is the Sat Nav/Infotainment system is a tad on the clunky side compared with other systems out there and the two-tone colour/spare wheel cover aren't to everyone's taste. In fact, adding all this rather detracts from the Jimny's USP: Simple smiles. Trying to keep up with the Jones' is a hiding to nothing for the Jimny, as it just inflates the price into a territory it can't really cut it in and detracts from the affordable, enjoyable, simplicity of it's core appears, in our view.
But cut back to basics and the Jimny is fun on and off-road, bringing a smile to your face and air of competency and sense of security way beyond its size... and whatever the weather.
There's bags of grip on offer and the bouncy ride is soft enough to make mincemeat out of urban obstacles like speed humps and curbs. Plus, it's compact size makes it a dream to park, whizz down narrow back streets and in and out of traffic gaps. Nippy doesn't even cover it.
Then there's the visibility. At 1705mm tall, and sitting high up, it's got a vista not unlike a mini Range Rover – allowing you to see over traffic safely, and over people's hedges, nosily! That's a big plus.
We wouldn't say Jimny's most natural environment is on the motorway, but the baby 4x4 is more than capable off cutting it in the outside lane with the big boys, despite its V-max only being 87mph! And although 0-62mph is quoted at 14.1s, tbh, it feels more brisk than that, as light, small cars often do: It certainly couldn't be described as slow, especially with the nuts cornering speed you can do in it, where it feels like a jacked-up classic Mini, with its wheel at each corner, cocking an inside rear-wheel, rear-steer attitude! Folks who expect it to be quiet and refined and good at cruising or think it "can't do corners" are just that, fools. Get with the Jimny program guys!
Venture off road (and we suggest you do, or what's the point?!) and the Jimny's impressive 190mm ground clearance and lack of overhangs, combined with its low 1090Kg kerb weight and tractive 4WD system make it a extremely capable – easily going where a lot of so-called-4x4 SUVs would bog down and fail on their road rubber. Fit a set of knobblies and a winch and you could literally pretty much go anywhere in a Jimny.
And Even without, it can cope with 34 degree approach angles, 46 departure and 31 breakovers! It really is like a mini Land Rover – with its upright (comfy) high drive POV over its vented, flat-topped bonnet and with the superbly wobbly, long-throw manual gear lever, which we love!
A lot of people don't get the Jimny, calling it out-dated, old fashioned and a lot worse. But, they're totally missing the point. That's it's appeal: Good, honest simplicity and fun from something that dares to be niche and different.
Yes, there are cars that are more capable off/on-roaders, with more space, better finish/engines/rides/tech/interior/styling blah blah blah. But most are not the great giggle, brilliantly clunky, cheeky little Jimny with its smile-inducing unique blend of muscular masculine fun femininity. Go test one if you've never driven one. We gurantee you will get out smiling. This is why people who do get it, keep theirs for years... then get another, because they're so great, and ultra reliable too (another core Jimny value).
Road Magazine's better half, design queen Bonnie & Road Magazine toddler G loved the Jimny so much, we're seriously considering getting one to replace Project UP! Toddler G cried when it left! And having just spotted the awesome range of accessories on offer, I'll be more than happy creating a micro Dakar raider project car and bouncing down a few green lanes in it... so watch this space!
If you're looking for old skool cool, fun-filled, unpretentious practicality (the load area with the seats down is massive at 324-litres!) with some serious character and that's something very different from the normal drones that people respond so positively too... get into the rugged little Jimny.