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    Suzuki Jimny 2021 review: GLX auto off-road test

    Few vehicles can compete with the Suzuki Jimny in terms of pure dialled-in driver bliss straight from the showroom and out onto the dirt.

    This little Zook exists in the rarified air of a vehicular realm only otherwise occupied by the likes of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Toyota 70 Series and Land Rover Defender.

    The Jimny is incredibly popular – that's reflected in rising prices and long wait times for actual stock – but does that mean it's really any good as a daily driver? And is it actually as capable as we all think it is off-road? We spent seven days with an auto Jimny GLX to find out.

    Read on.

    Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    This Jimny has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $29,990 (excluding on-road costs). The grey metallic paint costs $695, so this Jimny's price as tested is $30,685 (excluding on-road costs).

    It has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (75kW/130Nm) and a four-speed automatic transmission.

    Standard features include a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with satellite navigation, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Standard features include a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with satellite navigation, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

    Standard features include a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with satellite navigation, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB connectivity with steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, digital climate control, 12V accessory sockets (in the centre console and luggage area), 15-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, automatic LED headlights, electric folding mirrors, and more.

    Safety gear includes six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, weaving alert, and, yes, more. It has a three-star ANCAP safety rating.

    Exterior paint available include white (no extra cost), Chiffon Ivory Metallic and Bluish Black Pearl (both metallic paint available at extra cost), Kinetic Yellow and Bluish Black Pearl, Jungle Green and Medium Grey (all premium paint available at extra cost).

    It has 15-inch alloy wheels. It has 15-inch alloy wheels.

    Is there anything interesting about its design?

    Yes, if you think a little brick on wheels is interesting. And, bizarrely, lots of people – including me – do.

    The Jimny is a successful blend of enough considerable nods to the past and slick contemporary stylings to turn heads anywhere and everywhere.

    It remains one of the few new vehicles that everyone – drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, unicyclists, pedestrians... everyone – gawks at.

    • Is there anything interesting about its design? Yes, if you think a little brick on wheels is interesting. Is there anything interesting about its design? Yes, if you think a little brick on wheels is interesting.
    • It remains one of the few new vehicles that everyone – drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, unicyclists, pedestrians … everyone – gawks at. It remains one of the few new vehicles that everyone – drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, unicyclists, pedestrians … everyone – gawks at.
    • The Jimny is a purpose-built fun machine and it does that job very well. The Jimny is a purpose-built fun machine and it does that job very well.

    What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

    As mentioned, the Jimny has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm; low figures in the grand scheme of things but plenty enough to punch this 1110kg (kerb weight, auto) off-roader around the countryside. It has a four-speed automatic transmission.

    It has part-time 4WD and an AllGrip Pro system of driver-assist tech includes hill descent control, hill hold assist and more.

    The Jimny has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm. The Jimny has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm.

    How practical is the space inside?

    The interior is neat, simple and very function-friendly. Materials are either cloth (seats) or durable hard plastic (dash and everything else). Otherwise there are rubber mats and the like. It's basic but low-key appealing.

    The Jimny has four barely-there seats, all of them bits of foam clad in durable cloth. They're all quite upright, but are generally comfortable enough for short-distance trips.

    There's a shallow glovebox, a thin open recess above it for stuff, a small bin for pocket rubbish in front of the shifter, two cup-holders, and a narrow hard-plastic pocket on both of the front doors.

    The centre console is a hub of controls – for front power windows, hill descent and traction control – and there’s a USB and 12V power point. The centre console is a hub of controls – for front power windows, hill descent and traction control – and there’s a USB and 12V power point.

    The driver gets steering-wheel-mounted controls for the entertainment system, cruise control etc.

    The centre console is a hub of controls – for front power windows, hill descent and traction control – and there's a USB and 12V power point. There's a 12V socket in the cargo area.

    Everyone except the driver gets an over-door grab handle. The front-seat passenger also has a solid glove-box-mounted grab handle.

    All in all, the cabin is a cramped but basically comfortable space. All in all, the cabin is a cramped but basically comfortable space.

    With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA. That equates to an off-roading first-aid kit, three small daypacks and not much else.

    If you drop those 50:50 seats, the entire cargo area is 830 litres VDA; it's 377 litres if you only pack to the window sills.

    All in all, the cabin is a cramped but basically comfortable space.

    • In terms of touring suitabilty, you can’t really fit a lot of anything in the Jimny. In terms of touring suitabilty, you can’t really fit a lot of anything in the Jimny.
    • With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA. With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA.

    What's it like as a daily driver?

    Not too shabby.

    The Jimny is 3645mm long (from front bumper to back edge of the spare wheel cover), with a 2250mm wheelbase. It is 1645mm wide, 1720mm high, and the auto has a listed kerb weight of 1110kg.

    It's light and narrow with a truncated wheelbase so – surprise, surprise – it's a fun little drive around town, highly manoeuvrable – with a turning circle of 4.9m – and punchy enough off the mark or on the go to make entering traffic from a standing start or overtaking on the highway simple enough tasks.

    It feels like you're driving a go-kart on the road. In a good way.

    It does, however, feel underpowered and vulnerable on highways. Watch out for the 'wash' of passing bigger vehicles, especially trucks, and drive with extra care on stretches signposted "High Wind Area" or "Caution High Winds" because the little Jimny can be rocked quite severely by surprise gusts.

    Overall, on-road ride and handling are okay for something so diminutive. Ride is firm and jittery via a light narrow body on a ladder frame chassis and coil springs.

    Also, be warned, it is noisy inside.

    The Jimny is on 15-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts (195/80R15) and those are fine for on-road driving, but far from ideal, for obvious reasons, for off-roading.

    In terms of comfort, all seats are more firm than comfy but they're fine for short trips.

    What's it like for touring?

    Great and it's a lot of fun, but there are a few trade-offs.

    First though, the Jimny's numerous positives: its size means it is well suited to off-roading. In the 4WD world when it comes to off-road measures, the bigger the number the better, and the Jimny has impressive approach, departure and ramp break-over angles of 37 degrees, 49 degrees, and 28 degrees respectively.

    And because of its size, offering up plenty of visibility and with a wheel at each corner, the Jimny is supremely easy to steer through rough terrain, because the driver knows where the tyres are at any time.

    It has good low-range gearing, decent engine braking, and a quietly effective off-road traction control system, with a reliably low-speed (3km/h) hill descent control (it has been a bit patchy performance-wise in the past).

    Its size means it is well suited to off-roading. Its size means it is well suited to off-roading.

    In 4WD High or Low, the Jimny just keeps trucking on the rough stuff. It doesn't have a diff lock, but because it's so small and light it still manages quite nicely without one.

    You have to use plenty of throttle, keeping the revs up and wheels spinning in order to get the most out of that traction control, but that's part of the fun.

    What makes it such a lively drive on-road and such an engaging drive off-road can pose a few substantial challenges on some tough terrain though.

    Because it's so small and light, the Jimny can really be unsettled by corrugations, shallow and deep, skipping around lightly as it attempts to find its footing.

    Also, when low-range 4WDing, dramatic changes in terrain or driving conditions – a surprise wheel drop into a deep rut, or a shift in onboard load, or a wind gust while driving up a rocky hill – can become tricky, even serious, issues to overcome.

    There's a lot of in-cabin noise from any track surface, and a noticeable transmission whine.

    Its standard road tyres are a let-down in terms of suitability for 4WDing, but those are easily replaced with decent all-terrain rubber. It has a full-sized spare wheel mounted on the rear door.

    Bloody hell, the Jimny is a lot of fun to drive off-road. Bloody hell, the Jimny is a lot of fun to drive off-road.

    Ground clearance is 210mm and we bellied out on the crown of a particularly deep set of mud ruts after slipping sideways into them from a section off the track, just a little bit higher up a muddy hill.

    Wading depth is a guesstimated 300mm, but the air intake is quite high in the engine bay so shallow water crossings shouldn't be a problem.

    A diff lock, aftermarket suspension and off-road tyres would go a long way to boosting the Jimny's off-road capabilities.

    Bonus: there are numerous OEM and aftermarket accessories available for this Zook.

    In terms of touring suitabilty, you can't really fit a lot of anything in the Jimny. With the second-row seats up, there's 85 litres VDA in the back. With those 50:50 seats down, cargo space increases to 830 litres VDA, if you load up the entire space; it's 377 litres if you load to the window sill.

    Towing capacity is a claimed 350kg (unbraked) and 1300kg (braked). It has a claimed GVM of 1435kg.

    How much fuel does it consume?

    What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    The Jimny has a five-year/unlimited km warranty.

    Service intervals are scheduled for every 12months/15,000km and cost an average of $331 for a total of $1655 over five years.

    Pricing & SpecsInsurance Quote

    Bloody hell, the Jimny is a lot of fun to drive off-road, nice enough to drive on-road and it's easy to forgive it a few foibles if you're in it for the sheer driving joy of it.

    If it sounds like I had a go at the Jimny earlier in this yarn, I didn't really. I like the thing; I like the fact that it's noisy and you get bounced and jolted around inside of it, and you have to really concentrate when driving. This is an engaging driver experience, the likes of which are few and far between these days in contemporary vehicles.

    But, even though none of those characteristics are deal-breakers for anyone determined to get in a Jimny no matter what, it's worthwhile noting them.

    The Jimny is a purpose-built fun machine and it does that job very well.

    $29,990

    Based on new car retail price

    VIEW PRICING & SPECS

    Daily driver score

    3.5/5

    Adventure score

    3.6/5

    adventureguide rank

    • Light

      Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

    • Medium

      Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

    • Heavy

      Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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