In 1970, the first Suzuki Jimny made its debut. That means that in 2020, we saw 50 years of Jimny! That is pretty epic. There were a few more generations to come, one being launched the year I was born (don’t guess), but it was the fourth generation that really got people talking. It came in hot! There was more than a year waiting list to get your hands on one. The demand was so great that Suzuki SA changed tactic and sourced the Jimny from India instead of Japan and in so helped with demand.
In 2022 the Jimny received an update and remained a hugely popular choice among adventurers – and city slickers to boot (wait for the pun). As much as I adore the look and capabilities of this off-roader, its lack of practicality was a let down if it was space you needed. The boot in the three-door version is almost non-existent, it was 85-litres for crying out aloud. I am certain that most three-door Jimny’s never have the rear seats up. Suzuki has again addressed this ‘issue’ by introducing its five-door model.
I headed to Botswana to see if this family version Jimny would cut it, after all, it is right up my alley. There is an extra 340 mm in this car. The rear seats provide ample legroom and the boot, although not humungous at 211-litres, can comfortably fit a few carry-on bags and extra bits and pieces. The rear seats fold flat and if you pop the front seats down you have enough space for a bed. Which I almost tested out when I first saw that we were camping in the middle of the Tuli Wilderness area where we were informed of the many leopards roaming about. Even though the tents were made up to be ever so comfy, I did not sleep a wink. I kept envisioning a herd of elephants trampling over me while I ‘slept.’ I would have been very happy in the back of the Jimny!
If there is one thing I could change about the Jimny, it would be the engine. The naturally aspirated 1.5-litre from the three-door is also found in the five-door, and as much as it is still perfectly adequate around town and in urban areas, on the highway, at national speed, it is just not that great. Our Jimny featured the five-speed manual ‘box (there is also the four-speed auto), and I longed for a sixth gear. With that said, if you are happy to cruise along between 80 km – 100 km, then you will not be bothered. It is only really when you are hitting the national speed limit that the engine starts to take strain. You also need to carefully plan any overtaking manoeuvres – which, to be fair, you should always do.
But where this little guy shines is off road. My goodness me. It is easy to forgive the compromised highway ride when you’re tackling anything but tar. It really is called the world’s most authentic off-roader for good reason. The Jimny can take on products that sell for more than three times the cost of it. It’s only real obvious rival, though, is the Duster. Which although capable, just doesn’t have the charm that the Jimny has. We drove it through a sandy river bed and at no point did I think I was going to get stuck. I don’t think one Jimny in the 15 or so convoy, had any issues. I was torn between wanting a manual for on-road and an auto for off-roading. It has been some time since I 4×4’d with a manual. The Jimny made it quite easy. But if it is off-roading you are keen on, I would rather opt for the auto, if only to make things almost effortless.
For me, the Jimny is one of a kind. And I know I am not alone in this thought. It’s looks are enchanting even. I love everything about it barring the engine ‘issues’ I write about earlier. But if the three-door sales are anything to go by, Jimny lovers couldn’t care less about its on-road manners. And so they shouldn’t. This little go getter was born for the road less travelled.
PRICING OF THE FIVE-DOOR JIMNY
1.5 GL Manual – R429 900
1.5 GLX Manual – R457 900
1.5 GLX Auto – R479 900