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REVIEW – Suzuki Jimny SZ5


Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ5 ALLGRIP
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
3

Summary

Although it only arrived in 2018, the end is in sight for the new Suzuki Jimny. EU regulation – which require manufacturers to achieve fleet-average emissions of 95g/km CO2 – have sealed its fate. A poor 3 star Euro NCAP rating and distinct lack of space don’t help either. But there is something here: charm ad charisma. The Suzuki Jimny is an icon, with a loyal fan base. And after spending a week behind the wheel, it’s easy to see why.


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Exterior Styling

To say this is a completely new car, Suzuki has done a grand job with the styling. You instantly recognise this as a Jimny thanks to its cutesy take on a rugged off-roader.

That’s not to say that this is a novely car: the Suzuki Jimny proudly displays its off-road capability. There’s plenty of ground clearance, for one. The lower edges of the car are no-frills so they stay out of the way when the going gets tough.

At the front you get circular headlights with separate indicator bulbs, just like on the Suzuki LJ10 from 1970. And the front grille, with vertical openings, can trace its origin back to the SJ10 of the mid-70s.

To the side, the Suzuki Jimny gets 15inch alloy wheels, but these are dwarfed by 195/80 tyres. They may not be proper knobbly offroad tyres, but they do still look like they’d be at home on a gravel track.

Privacy glass brings an element of class to the rugged appearance, while the Kinetic Yellow paint brings a bit a sense of youthful energy. With gloss black roof and door mirrors, there’s a nice contrast going on.

At the back it’s a classic 4×4 recipe, with a side-hinged tailgate complete with spare wheel. For towing purposes this creates a bit of a logistical issue in that the tow bar must clear the spare wheel, resulting in a rather elongated swan neck. Better watch those shins…

Interior Finish

On the inside, the Suzuki Jimny adopts the same concept as it does on the outside: functional with a flourish of retro style.

The seats are very plain. Little in the way of bolstering, and the pattern leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, a bit of mud would give them a bit more character!

The dashboard is as square and boxy as the exterior lines, which is endearing: it looks like is could have been lifted straight out of a car from the mid-70s…

What’s not so pleasant is the amount of hard, scratchy plastics used throughout the cabin. We get it, the Jimny is aiming at ‘functional’, but nonetheless in 2020 standards are higher than cheap materials, even in the cheapest of cars.

There are some upsides. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is a nice touch, bringing a touch of elegance; however slight that may be. In front of this is a set of round dials in square bezels, which is exactly like the headlights. They may be traditional, but at least there is a TFT trip display in between them to bring some modernity.

The star of the cabin is the 7-inch touchscreen which, like the Kinetic Yellow exterior, brings a youthful energy.

To the Suzuki Jimny’s credit, it has a distinctly robust feel. The plastics may be naff, but at least they feel well put-together. And on a car that could be bouncing along a rocky path being shaken about, that’s reassuring.

Engine/Performance

The engine in the new Suzuki Jimny is a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Gone is the smaller 1.3-litre unit from the previous model. But don’t go thinking this bigger engine suddenly turns the Jimny into a performance machine. It doesn’t; not even slightly.

Power of 101PS and torque of 130Nm is not exactly what you’d call plentiful. Power goes to all four wheels via an ALLGRIP ‘PRO’ selectable four-wheel drive system. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a 4-speed automatic gearbox is optional.

Performance-wise there’s not a lot to tell you: Suzuki doesn’t cite a 0-62mph figure but I can tell you it’s not quick. It is possible, though, because the top speed is a whopping 90mph.

That means the Suzuki Jimny is most at home away from the motorway, where it is noisy and just generally unpleasant. But around town it zips around quite happily.

The ALLGRIP ‘PRO’ system includes three modes: 2H, 4H and 4L. 2H and 4H are rear-wheel and four-wheel drive respectively. 4L engages the low-range transfer box which is a great for serious off-roading.

We haven’t driven the automatic, but expect that the majority of Jimny’s sold will be the manual. It’s actually a decent gearbox, with a solid, robust change.

Ride/Handling

The Suzuki Jimny has a short wheel base and is designed to be a capable off-roader. Both of those things result in compromised on-road handling.

With its high ride height and forgiving suspension, taking corners at any sort of speed involves comical amounts of lean. Thankfully the Jimny can’t is never really going that fast when you get to a corner.

On the motorway things can get a little bit bouncy which, when coupled to the rather noisy engine, makes a long journey anything but refreshing.

It has to be said that the ALLGRIP ‘PRO’ system is brilliant. The Jimny is, and always has been, a proper off-roader. It can overcome some of the toughest obstacles that would halt bigger, more expensive machinery.

And with only 101PS, there is no issue whatsoever in putting it down, whatever the road surface and whatever the weather.

The steering is decidedly vague: you can wiggle the steering wheel a fair amount before any direction change actually occurs. Although to some degree the vague steering is a relief: any sharper and there’s a good change the Suzuki Jimny could tip over…

Economy

When it comes to economy, the Suzuki Jimny starts off with a positive: the fuel consumption. Because the Jimny is compact, it only weighs 1,135kg. As a result the combined fuel consumption is 35.8mpg on the combined WLTP cycle.

In truth, that figure is beatable on a longer drive. Proof? When it arrived to us, the car had averaged 41mpg on the journey up. That’s pretty impressive. That being said, it’s easier to drive economically on the motorway, because it’s too unpleasant to drive quickly.

When it comes to emissions, the Suzuki Jimny emits 154g/km of CO2. VED costs £530 when you register the vehicle, and £145 thereafter.

Those emissions don’t sound too bad on the face of it, but it’s given Suzuki a bit of a headache. You may or may not be aware that new regulation is coming that requires manufacturers to have fleet-average CO2 emissions of 95g/km in 2021.

Ultimately Suzuki can’t make the averages work, and the Jimny will not be on sale after this year; which is a shame. So although the Jimny isn’t particularly expensive to run, it’s being killed off.  At present there are no plans to give it a lower-emission engine.

Practicality

A compact size brings disadvantages when it comes to spaciousness. For starters, the Suzuki Jimny only has four seats. And even then the rear seats are a little bit on the cramped side; even for me at only 5ft7in tall. Kids will be fine, but you can forget full-size grown-ups.

And things only get worse when you come to load the boot. Quite frankly, there isn’t one. Considering the tailgate is pretty large, swinging it open to find the 85 litres of space that awaits feels like wasted energy.

Sure, you can fold down the rear seats, but then the Suzuki Jimny becomes a two-seater. And that does no favours to its appeal on a practical level.

Putting spaciousness aside for the moment – not everyone needs a Transit van after all – the Suzuki Jimny has a lot going for it. It will get you where you need to be; whether that be to the top of a mountain, the bottom of a quarry, or anywhere in between.

And being on the compact side has its uses, too. Supermarket car parks are far less scary when your car isn’t too large for the spaces. And driving through small villages is far less stressful in the Suzuki Jimny than it was in the Ford Ranger Raptor.

That tow bar on the back of the Jimny isn’t just for show, either. It can tow 1,300kg braked, and 350kg unbraked. For a small, light car with a 1.3-litre engine, that’s an impressive feat.

Equipment

There are two trim levels of Suzuki Jimny available. The SZ4 may be the ‘entry level’ model, but it comes with a generous specification.

ALLGRIP ‘PRO’ with selectable 4WD including low ratio is standard in the Jimny, ensuring all models boast the same impressive off-road capabilities. You also get air conditioning, a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control.

Move up to the SZ5 model – which is the one we tested – and this specification is bolstered further by the addition of 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, climate control, heated front seats, privacy glass and body-coloured door handles. The infotainment system gains navigation and smartphone link capabilities.

Significant effort has been put into giving the Suzuki Jimny a decent array of safety equipment. All models get Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS) which detects risk of collision with other vehicles or pedestrians, warning the driver and even braking autonomously if required.

In addition, there is a lane departure warning system and weaving alert system designed to help the driver stay alert. High beam assist automatically switches between high and low beams at speeds over 25mph.

However despite all this technology the Suzuki Jimny achieved a Euro NCAP rating of only 3 stars. For a modern vehicle complete with these safety systems, that is a little disappointing. When choosing a car for the family safety is an important consideration, and a 3 star rating would make me think twice.

Value For Money

There are not many Suzuki Jimny models to choose from. There is the SZ4 manual, priced at £16,249. Then there is the SZ5 manual and automatic, priced at £18,749 and £19,749 respectively.

Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. You see the Suzuki Jimny is a bit of an icon, and has a loyal fan base. As a result, demand for this new model currently exceeds supply. The waiting list for new cars is currently around a year which, considering the Jimny won’t be sold next year, creates another headache for Suzuki.

But what that means for purchasers is that you can expect decent resale values. If you have a car on order, don’t panic. Suzuki has promised to increase the allocation coming to the UK as it is determined to fulfil customer orders.

But if you’re in two minds with this car, you haven’t got long to decide. I’d have to suggest you buy one while you still can.

Sure, it’s not perfect. If you need a spacious family car, or if you have more than two kids, then the Jimny is unlikely to fulfil your needs. But if you want a car with a go-anywhere attitude but don’t have an unlimited budget, the Suzuki Jimny is hard to beat.

It has a fun sense of style, and if you pick a colour like Kinetic Yellow it will stand out and turn heads wherever you go. What it lacks in refinement, the Jimny makes up for in charm and character; both of which it has in abundance.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Max power 101PS at 6,000rpm
Max torque 130Nm at 4,000rpm
Drivetrain 5-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive with low-ratio
0-62mph Not stated
Top speed 90mph
Fuel tank size 40 litres
Fuel consumption 35.8 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 154 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,135kg
Towing capacity 1,300kg braked / 350kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 85 litres
NCAP rating 3 stars
Base price £18,749
Price as tested £18,749
Company website cars.suzuki.co.uk/new-cars/jimny/

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