Suzuki’s iconic Jimny has gained a longstanding reputation as a little 4x4 with a big heart, and despite its humble power it’s always had the ability to tackle offroad trails like SUVs twice its price.
The all-new Jimny is set to fill its predecessor’s muddy shoes when it goes on sale here in November, but visitors to this past weekend’s Festival of Motoring at Kyalami were given a sneak preview.
With prices to start at an estimated R265,000 for the three-model range, the Jimny will continue to be the most affordable way to go exploring the untarred wilderness, albeit now with some interior modernisation and a bit more thrust under the hood. A 1.5l four-cylinder petrol engine with outputs of 75kW and 130Nm replaces the old 63kW/110Nm 1.3l unit, and this feeds both axles through either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
The slightly larger new engine is lighter and more efficient than its forerunner, leading to a claimed 14% fuel consumption improvement.
As before, the Jimny’s built on a sturdy ladder-frame chassis (albeit now with 1.5 times more torsional rigidity) and employs rigid front and rear axles with coil spring suspension for maximum offroading ability, but its legendary terrain-tackling skills have been further uprated by improving the approach angle from 35° to 37°, the breakover angle from 27° to 28°, and the departure angle from 46° to 49°. Ground clearance has improved from 190mm to 210mm.
Second gear lever
The AllGrip Pro part-time 4x4 system allows the driver to use a second gear lever to switch between rear-wheel drive and 4x4 high and 4x4 low range, while offroad traction is enhanced by a stability control system and limited slip differential.
To make steep hills easier to navigate for the driver, the Jimny also comes with a Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control.
All this trail-taming ability is packaged into a new body with the quintessentially boxy styling of its forebears. The bold and angular design is reminiscent of the first Suzuki LJ (the Jimny’s predecessor) launched back in 1970, as are the round headlamps with the separate round orange indicators.
The new Jimny adds some unique features of its own, which include a full drip rail around the roof, which allows for the fitment of a number of roof rails and other accessories.
The cabin also borrows from the Jimny’s past with its exposed painted metal window frames and three-layer dashboard, but it’s been modernised for more comfort with front seats that are longer and wider and have an improved sliding range to accommodate taller drivers.
Front legroom has grown by 30mm and rear legroom by 40mm to make this the roomiest Jimny yet. Interior practicality has improved with the addition of some smartphone-sized storage bins.
In the more expensive GLX model a 17.8cm touchscreen smartphone interface with Bluetooth, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirror Link brings the new Jimny into the 21st century.
The luggage area on models with split seats is covered in hardy moulded plastic and has several tie-down hooks, and a 12V socket (on the GLX).
Both the GA and GLX specification levels are sold standard with a full-sized spare wheel, ABS brakes, electronic stability control and dual front airbags.
The GLX version in addition comes with a leather-covered multifunction steering wheel, electric windows, 15-inch alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps, cruise control, remote keyless access, front fog lights, split rear seats that fold flat into the floor and the choice of an auto gearbox (the GA is only available as a manual).
The all-new Jimny will be in SA’s showrooms on November 1 and estimated pricing, which includes a service plan and mechanical warranty, is:
• Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GA Manual: R265,000 (estimated)
• Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Manual: R300,000 (estimated)
• Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Auto: R320,000 (estimated)