Suzuki’s Jimny tested in the concrete jungle

2019-02-27 06:00
The retro-modern and mini-Hummer like design of the all-new Suzuki Jimny has many elements that pay homage to those of its predecessors.                     Photos:Supplied

The retro-modern and mini-Hummer like design of the all-new Suzuki Jimny has many elements that pay homage to those of its predecessors. Photos:Supplied

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IT has a rather cramped interior, hardly has any room for luggage or stowage space, and offers a rugged ride. Yet, there is a big waiting list for it – and the list is growing.

Yes, it is the all-new Suzuki Jimny, which was launched at the end of last year – 20 years after this fun 4x4 vehicle had last been updated.

And it has also received the prestigious accolade of being named one of the 12 finalists in the 2019 AutoTrader SA Car of the Year competition held in conjunction with the Guild of SA Motoring Journalists.

Say “Jimny”, and you will undoubtedly hear a chorus of people singing its 4x4 praises and its impressive ability to climb just about any mountain. Express on Wheels spent a week test-driving the 1.5 GLX manual version of the new Jimny to find out if it can conquer the concrete jungle as easily as a mountain.

And while this column looks at vehicles from a mom’s taxi perspective only, with no 4x4 driving, one sees enough of them being driven on the urban commute to merit giving it a test drive to show its prowess in the concrete jungle.

The all-new Suzuki Jimny features a new, more powerful and frugal 1.5 litre engine.

It is available in a choice of two specification levels (GA and GLX) and two transmissions – five speed manual or four speed automatic.

Standard in all the models in the range is the ALLGRIP PRO mechanical shifting 4x2, 4x4 and 4x4 low range transfer case and the rigid ladder frame chassis for off-roading.

Exterior design

There is no question about it – with its retro-modern and mini-Hummer like design the all-new Suzuki Jimny certainly stands out in the crowd. Its design, which is very similar to that of its predecessors, makes it look like a vehicle you could go to war with or traverse the sand dunes of an island paradise like the Camel man.

According to Suzuki SA, every detail of the design is aimed at making the journey easier for those who like to drive and be in the outdoors in all weather conditions.

For instance, the upright design of the roof pillars enables the roof to carry more weight, which is ideal for a roof rack, rooftop tent and for rollover safety in case of an accident.

The new Jimny also features an all-round drip rail, which has been designed to allow for easy clamping of roof racks, while also keeping passengers dry from water on the roof as they enter or exit the vehicle.

Its angled front and rear bumpers not only keep them out of the way of rocks and shrubs, but also increase the approach and departure angles.

Interior design

The retro-modern design is carried on into the interior with a funky looking dashboard housing the touchscreen – giving this rugged looking vehicle a high tech feel inside.

Its lack of space and the fact that it is a three-door vehicle with difficult access to the back seats, as well little stowage space – and only enough boot space for about two sportsbags – means it’s not the usual family vehicle.

But people don’t buy a Jimny for the family, but rather for the fun and exploring the outdoors, and the Jimny will not disappoint in this regard.

Also on the positive side is the easy to operate touch screen, the steering-wheel controls for the audio system and other modern conveniences.

The GLX models are also fitted with Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA). This double-DIN audio system has a 7-inch infrared touch screen with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and MirrorLink integration.

The system has a USB connector, SD-card slot and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

In between the two front seats is the separate gear lever to select 4x2, or 4x4 high, or the 4x4 low range transfer case.

All versions of the Suzuki Jimny have air conditioning, power steering and the complete ALLGRIP PRO 4x4 system with Brake LSD, ESP, Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control.

The GLX models get a host of additional features, including climate control, electric windows and mirrors, Auto LED projector headlamps, remote central locking and cruise control. The front seats have been redesigned to fold completely flat with the rear bench to allow someone to sleep inside the cabin.

The flat-folding passenger seat and foldable rear bench allow for a completely flat loading surface for long equipment, such as surfboards.

Although the cabin has been made roomier than that of its predecessor offering more legroom for both the front and back passengers, I still found it to be very cramped – especially for the backseat passengers.

Engine

For the all-new Jimny, Suzuki’s engineers have replaced the 1.3 litre engine with a new 1.5 litre K15B petrol engine.

The new engine has a higher compression ratio (10.0:1) and greater thermal efficiency to deliver more power, while using less fuel.

The new engine is rated at 75kW at 6 000rpm and 130Nm at 4 000rpm.

Fuel consumption on a combined cycle has been stated as 6.3 litres for the manual models and 6.8 litres for the automatic model.

During Express on Wheels’ week-long test drive, which was on the urban commute only, the average fuel consumption was 12,5km per litre according to the trip computer (or 8 litres/100km).

On the open road, as well as around corners, the Jimny does feel a bit floaty at times and the five-speed gearbox and smallish engine make overtaking not as hassle-free as one would want on the long road. But even though it prefers to be off-road rather than on the quick highways, it will get you to your destination in a fun drive with all the modern conveniences at hand.

Its ability to deal with rocky an uneven terrain is, however, a big plus point when having to deal with all the potholed roads and speedbumps on the urban commute.

Safety

All Jimny models are fitted with ABS brakes with emergency brake assistance (BAS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to prevent wheel slip on all wheels.

All Jimny models also have ISOFIX child seat anchors, a high mounted brake light and an emergency pedal release system.

Price and warranty

The GLX model is standard with a four-year/ 60 000km service plan and the GA model with a two-year/30 000km service plan.

All models are sold with a five-year/200 000km mechanical warranty.

The GLX comes with a four-year or 60 000km service plan while the cheaper GA has half this — two years or 30 000km.

All models are sold with a five-year or 200 000km mechanical warranty.

GA MT R264 900

GLX MT R299 900

GLX Auto R319 900

Suzuki also offers a wide range of accessories for both city-dwellers and off-road enthusiasts.

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