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2019 Suzuki Jimny – Car Review – Tonka Toy

2019 Suzuki Jimny – Car Review – Tonka Toy

Suzuki’s new Jimny has been getting a lot of attention online, mainly because of its looks. And it does look awesome. John has already had the chance to play with one off-road at the launch. But what is it like to drive daily? We drove one over the long Easter weekend to find out.

The Range

There are four options for the Jimny, but they’re all the same general spec, with the same 1.5-litre 4-cylinder 16-valve engine, making 75kW of power and 130Nm of Torque. The differences between the models are; 5-speed manual manual or 4-stage auto, single or two-tone paint. Starting at $25,990 for manual or $27,000 for auto. Add $500 to either for the two-tone paint.

The spec includes remote locking, cruise control with speed limiter, electric windows, rear privacy glass, satnav, Bluetooth head unit with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, climate control, LED projector headlamps with washers and auto high beam, 15-inch alloys, lane departure warning, weaving alert, ESP, ABS, EBD, brake assist, hill descent control, 6 airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, and LSD traction control.

The base version is available in dark green, black, white or silver. The two-tone in either beige or the rather lurid shade of yellow as tested, both with a black roof.

First Impressions

In this colour – Kinetic Yellow – the Jimny really knows how to make a first impression. People point at it, and it almost always raises a smile. I love it. I think the car looks fantastic in such a bright colour with the contrasting roof and arches. At first glance, in photos, it looks big and chunky. But when you see it in real life it’s tiny, at less than 3.5 metres long.

I think Suzuki have done a cracking job in styling this car.

The Inside

Inside, the Jimny is, er, utilitarian. The dash is all black plastic, and the whole cabin has that sparse Land-Rover type feel, with that high, square roof. But the plastics are chunky and feel strong enough to take some punishment.

You’re not short of mod-cons. There’s a 7-inch touch-screen head unit with Bluetooth, USB, satnav, Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Climate control is standard, controlled by chunky controls in the centre of the dash. The stereo sounds pretty good at low volumes, but crank it up and there’s a lot of distortion, and the bass rattles the metal around the speakers.

The driver’s display has two big analogue gauges for the speedo and rev counter – designed to look like they’re bolted in place in square mounts. In the centre is a digital display for the trip computer, fuel economy etc.

The steering wheel is leather-trimmed and has thumb controls for the stereo, phone and cruise control functions, which all fall nicely to hand.

The seats are trimmed in hard-wearing cloth and are comfortable enough. Likewise the rear seats are pretty comfy, and have a surprisingly large amount of legroom. You’d definitely get four adults in there. The passenger seat slides forward to allow access to the rear seats, and all of the adjusters are simple levers. Everything feels workmanlike and tough.

With the rear seats up there’s barely any room behind them but there is a box in the floor, giving a total of 85 litres of storage, or 377 litres with the seats folded flat. The rear seats split 50/50 and the backs are tough plastic so you can chuck your gear in there without worrying too much about dirtying them.

The boot door is pretty big, and swings outwards, and can be a little awkward depending on how you park, but it gives you a very easy-access space to cram the bigger stuff in.

The Drive

We’ve already talked about the Jimny’s off-road abilities in our launch article, so I decided to stay on the tarmac for the duration of this test. So what’s this little off-roader like as a daily drive?

The Jimny’s suspension is pretty soft, obviously set up for off-roading. Fire up that little 1.5-litre 4-cylinder and give it a rev, and the car rocks as you push the throttle. Like a V8 does. It made me grin every time. Looking out over that square bonnet, with the chunky arches and high driving position gives you a very similar feel to a big ute. Then you remember you’re in a tiny Jimny.

I’m happy to say that our review car came with the 5-speed manual, and it’s a good one, easy to shift and with a tight, satisfying feel. Given the fairly basic feel of the rest of the car, I didn’t expect the shift to be as good as it was. What about performance? The 1.5-litre 4-cylinder makes a respectable 75kW, but the Jimny is hardly quick. It’s not meant to be, but the high driving position and the noises it makes, make you feel like you’re going quicker than you are. What this adds up to is an enormously fun little car to drive. It put a grin on my face every time I drove it. You feel like you’re zipping around, rolling on corners, shifting up and down that great gearbox, when in reality you’re doing about 40. I absolutely loved it.

It can be a bit less fun on the motorway. It’s not bad noise-wise when travelling at the 100kph limit, but at one point I was driving along the Wellington motorway, and was caught by a gust of wind. It gave the car quite a wobble and you have to be ready for it! Less than 1100kg in a high-sided vehicle definitely makes it susceptible to winds.

But generally, driving this car was a pleasure. It’s small and easy to manoeuvre and park, visibility is great, it fits in small spaces. I was surprised it didn’t have a reversing camera as they are pretty much standard on everything these days. Not that it’s really needed but the spare wheel does take up a bit of your rear view, so a camera would be handy in some situations.

Suzuki quote a fuel efficiency rating of 6.4l/100km, and on longer trips I was averaging less than that. Most of my use was shorter journeys around town, so my overall average was 7.5 Still not bad, and it would definitely drop if you were doing a few more km than I was.

The Competition

This is a tough one. It’s hard to think of anything else in the same category as the Jimny. When it comes to SUVs, everything else is much more expensive and luxurious, so the Jimny seems to be in a class of its own.

Brand/ModelEnginePower/TorqueFuel, L/100kmSeatsBoot Space, LitresTowing Capacity, KgPrice Highest to Lowest
Suzuki Jimny manual two-tone1.4-litre 4-cylinder75kW/130Nm6.4485500/950$26,490

The pros and cons

ProsCons
  • Basic
  • A pleasure to zip around in
  • Roomy for 4
  • Easy to drive and park
  • Big truck feel!
  • Off-road ability
  • Great value
  • Basic
  • Tiny boot
  • Noisy
  • Stereo not great
  • Body roll

What we think

Lots of people asked me about this car, everyone was interested in it. People pointed at it, almost everyone smiled. It has something about its design that makes people like it.

It’s easy to find things to pick at with this car – it’s basic, quite noisy, rolls on corners, etc etc. But that would be missing the point, which is that it’s enormous fun to drive. Then consider that it has great off-road abilities with its four-wheel-drive, low-ratio gearbox, and a short wheelbase.

There’s nothing else close to it on the market in this price range, with these abilities. And it has some decent comfort and safety features included. I loved it.

drivelife-car-review-chevrons-four-and-half

Rating – Chevron rating (4.5 out of 5)

2019 Suzuki Jimny

Vehicle TypeCompact SUV

 

Starting Price $25,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $26,490 plus on-road costs
Engine1.5-litre 4-cylinder 16-valve
Power Kw / Torque Nm75/140
Transmission5-speed manual with low-ratio
0 – 100 kph, secondsN/A
Spare WheelFull-sized
Kerb Weight, Kg1095
Length x Width x Height, mm3480 x 1645 x 1720
Cargo Capacity, litres85 seats up

377 seats folded

Fuel Tank, litres40
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  6.4L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  7.5L / 100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing500kg unbraked

950kg braked

Turning circle9.8

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty5 year extensive warranty programme
ANCAP Rating3 stars

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