Super capable Jimny performs beyond its vast pedigree
This quite delightful three-hundred grand Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX All Grip is borne on a legend that stretches half a century back to the 1970s. Conceived as a capable off-road 4x4 deliver on Japanese Kei small car tax breaks as an air-cooled 359cc two-stroke two-cylinder puddle jumper, a liquid-cooled version followed, then a 539cc 3-cylinder and then Jimny became an 800cc four-stroke 4-pot.
That grew to a litre and then 1300cc in the previous model, before gaining variable valve timing in 2005. Also subjected to continual refinement in all areas, Suzuki has sold almost 3 million Jimnys over five decades.
Boasting contemporary cubist 4x4 looks, the little Suzuki certainly delivers that go-anywhere promise in a retro-classic style that touches all of yesterday, today and tomorrow so well. Simplistic and superbly proportioned, subtle touches like auto LED projector headlamps add supreme style without needing to go over the top in any way.
Hop inside and you are greeted with a cheeky, grippy and sparse but well equipped cabin that splendidly reflects it's fifty-year history as it packs most impressive spec from climate control to power steering, windows and mirrors; remote central locking and cruise control. It is also clear that a hell of as lot of thought has gone into the Jimny’s now also roomier cabin...
This GLX model adds a leather multifunction steering wheel-controlled bright and cheerful Android Auto, Apple Carplay, MirrorLink, USB, SD-card and Bluetooth integrated 7” infrared-touchscreen infotainment on the dash and a good old always-lit analogue tacho and speedometer in front of the driver.
One of tis latest Jimny’s best party tricks is however its completely re-designed and far more adjustable and versatile fold-flat front and rear seats to allow one or a couple to sleep in the car, or pack in a surfboard or similar long load over the passenger seat if needed. So cool!
But the big Jimny plus as always, is its unstoppable all-terrain ability. To be honest, this little Suzuki is quite phenomenal off the beaten track. Spun around a sturdy high-strength steel X-member ladder frame triple-linked to each its two solid axles, its AllGrip Pro 4x4 has a shift lever to transfer between 2H two and 4H four wheel drive on the fly at up to 100km/h and of course, a transfer put it into 4L low range. All of which makes this little critter pretty much unstoppable as it stands before you.
Add proprietary Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control to send drive to the wheels with the most grip and an extra-power mode below 30km/h in low-range and Jimny will quite literally take you anywhere. The Suzuki also packs Hill Hold and Descent Control to its quite stunning pedigree, never mind that it also improves on its predecessor’s agility with 37 degree approach, 49 degree departure and 28 degree break-over angles and an increased 210 ground clearance.
Jimny's new 75kW 130Nm 1.5-litre K15B petrol four-pot is likewise much improved over the now familiar Suzuki 1500 lump via a higher 10:1 compression ratio and enhanced thermal efficiency. It’s a great little engine and brings newfound spirit to an already sprightly vehicle. It’s no slouch either, as our test data attests.
Ten seconds zero-to-hundred is quite acceptable in this five-speed manual get-up and the Suzuki also delivers well on its frugal 6.3 litre per hundred economy — just another win for the little Samurai. You can of course also get an auto of you want one. Talking gearboxes, this stick-shifter is an absolute pleasure — direct and honest, just like the rest of this little gem.
problem is, while Jimny is so capable of conquering the world, how many of the people that buy one will actually exploit it’s extreme off-road capabilities? Not many that I know, for sure — maybe they're just not brave enough to go play, or if they just don’t want to, but their cars are more about the free-living image than their capability.
The advantage, I suppose, is that they know their Jimny’s great pedigree and that is more than enough to justify it... - Michele Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX AllGrip
Engine:75kW 130Nm 1499cc petrol I4
Drive: 5-speed manual 4x4
0-60km/h: 4.54 sec
0-100km/h: 10.96 sec
400m: 17.5 sec @ 122km/h
80-120km/h: 9.57 sec
Fuel: 6.3 l/100km
Warranty/Service: 3y 100Kkm/4y 60Kkm
LIST PRICE: R305K