It’s not often that a car manufacturer can say they have had a car on sale without major changes for 20 years. That’s how long the previous generation Suzuki Jimny has been on sale for. As of last year, you could still buy them new, which is impressive and a testament to the vehicle itself.
To date they have sold 2.85 million units. The risk for any brand in this situation is if you plan to update it, you better make sure it stands for everything the previous model did.
Some might be wondering why the launch has come after the cars have been available for sale at the dealers. That’s because it was planned to be launched last year, but Suzuki New Zealand had issues getting enough product in the country to launch a new car. The articles you heard about the stink bugs trapped many new cars on freighters for months.
This was not the only issue Suzuki New Zealand had to deal with. Once the new Jimny was launched, there was unprecedented interest for it. The worldwide demand on Jimny has been way over what the factory can produce. There is a 12 month wait list in Japan and the UK, with limited stock arriving in New Zealand. The first shipment that landed in New Zealand sold out in a week, and they currently pre sold the next order. Some new customers will be waiting until November before they see their new cars.
That’s rather impressive for a car that has not had an update since 1998. It’s clear their customers wanted a fresh new look to a tried and trusted vehicle.
DriveLife were keen to see if that 4th generation stood up to the legacy of the 3rd gen model.
The New Suzuki Jimny
Suzuki New Zealand said that the 4th generation needed to have a practical exterior, functional interior, off-road performance, driving support systems, advanced technologies and be a tool for professionals. Thats a tall order for a new model.
At the core of this was its off-road performance, and the new design has improved on its predecessors ability. Ground clearance is now 10mm higher, the approach angle has been increased by 2 degrees, the break-over angle has been increased by 1 degree and the departure ange has been increased by 3 degrees. Size-wise the new Jimny has the same wheelbase, is 30mm shorter, 45mm wider and 50mm taller. It’s still not a big vehicle, but it’s a lot more spacious than you would imagine.
The ladder frame chassis remains, but this has been upgraded with additional X-member and cross member supports for additional rigidity. The body mount points have been redesigned to increase ride comfort and driving stability. Both the front and rear axle have 3-link axle suspension with coil springs, made from stronger more robust high-tensile steel.
The new petrol engine is a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder. This engine produces 75kW – 10kW more than the previous model, and 130Nm of torque, 12Nm more than the previous model. The big changes to the engine are its lightweight construction, more compact design, better performance and fuel efficiency. The new Jimny offers a combined fuel rating of 6.4 l/100kms for the manual model, and 6.9 l/110kms for the automatic model. The previous model was 7.1 l/110kms for the manual model and 7.8 l/110kms for the auto. The manual is more efficient in the new engine due to the additional gear. Manual models have 5 gears, while the auto models only have 4.
Both transmissions come with Suzuki AllGrip Pro system, which allows you to switch between 2WD, 4WD and 4WD-L. In the previous model these modes where selectable by buttons on the dash, apparently customer feedback prefered a gear level to change this. The 4th generation model can select the difference drive modes by the additional gear stick. AllGrip Pro also offers hill start support and hill descent control.
The new Jimny is full of the latest driver support and safety technology. It now comes with dual sensor brake support, lane departure warning, high beam assist, vehicle sway warning and emergency stop signal. You also have side and curtain airbags, auto levelling headlights and headlight washers.
Inside the new Jimny has seen a lot of changes, with an infrared central touch screen which can be used while wearing gloves. There is support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get cruise control with speed limiter, SatNav, climate air conditioning, and a leather steering wheel.
The seats are now larger, longer in the base and higher in the back for more support and comfort. The surprising feature about the front seats is that they can lay down flat, creating a flat sleeping area if required. The back seats can also lay flat, to create a larger, more useable cargo area in the back of the vehicle. The rear of the back seats are covered with a plastic resin, so the boot has a hard wearing flat surface when the rear seats are flat. In the back you will also find a power socket, luggage box and toolbox compartment. Over the previous model, the new boot space has gone from 324 litres to 377 litres.
The 4th gen model is available in a range of colour options. There are 3 two-tone colours; Kinetic Yellow with a black roof, Brisk Blue Metallic with a black roof and Chiffon Ivory Metallic with a black roof. The single-tone colours available are Jungle Green, Bluish Black Pearl, Medium Grey, Superior White and Silky Silver Metallic.
Here is the important information: what they cost. I think you will be surprised, as the Jimny 4WD Manual is $25,990 and for two-tone paint its $26,490. The Jimny 4WD Automatic is $27,500 and the two-tone is $28,000. That’s a lot of car for under $30k.
The Off-road Drive
If the new Suzuki Jimny looks big in photos compared to what you remember of the older model, its not. It’s still a pretty small, but rather tough looking SUV, and my copilot and I were not the smallest of people around. This would be a good test, to see if that additional width makes a difference. You know what, it did make a big difference. Two big tall guys in this small SUV, and we were both pretty comfortable.
Inside it had a familiar feeling, almost Jeep like. A lot of hard plastic, square and tough in design. There was not much to the interior. Basic, while having the info you needed. I did find the aircon controls a bit dated in their operation, and the new 4WD gear stick was not something I enjoyed using. I found it at times rather difficult to put it into the right gear. Not sure why customers prefer this over some simple button selections.
The launch was at the Castaways Resort in Auckland, where they had a 4WD experience track. This allowed us to take the new Jimny off the road and on to some rough terrain.
The morning was clear, but just before we set out, it started to rain heavily. This would be a great test for us, as the wet track allowed us to test the different driving configurations available in bad weather conditions. As we set out we quickly moved from 2WD into 4WD as we worked our way up the steep gravel hill behind Castaways. By the time we got to the top it was time to move over into 4WD-L.
The lead vehicle led us all around the large property, crossing all manner of simple and more complex terrain, up and down gorges, through tight revines and across terrain that forced the Jimny to show off its full capability. Everything we pushed it though, it handled without breaking a sweat. There were even a few occasions we thought it would be too much for the small SUV, expecting it to tip over due to the angle of the turn or lean of the body.
It never budged, it was a very impressive display from a rather humble little vehicle.
The on-road Drive
I was lucky to get a brief chance to drive the new Jimny back from the resort to the Manukau dealer close to the Airport. This gave me a chance to test its performance on the open road.
There was no expectation that the engine would be a powerful one, the 4-speed auto I was driving did rev higher than expected, but the Jimny got up to speed at a reasonable pace. The roads were wet from the day’s rain and I found that the steering and traction on the road felt more planted when in 4WD, I stuck with that for the drive back
Overall the Jimny handled well in the real world, feeling easy to drive and live with as a every day driver. Unfortunately the 4-speed auto had a bit more drone then I would have liked at 100km/h on the motorway. It was not unpleasant, but it was loud in the cabin, drowning out most of the road noise.
It’s not a great test, as many people won’t be doing a lot of motorway travelling with it, however it’s worth noting that the 5-speed manual had less drone inside the cabin at motorway speeds.
We can’t say they will have any trouble selling the new model, even if they cant meet the current demand. Many people who had one will want the updated model. More may want it due to its modern funky design and flexible options. You can’t argue with the price, it’s a lot of kit for under $30k.
We are looking forward to a more extensive review when we get to test the new Suzuki Jimny for a week later in the year.