Suzuki Jimny

“What are Suzuki Jimnys like to drive?” asks Mrs B from across the dinner table one evening. “One of those might be very useful around here, for me, you know, when it snows. Hmm… a little 4x4, handy … Have you ever driven one?”

“No” I reply “I’ve never really seen the appeal. And besides, isn’t the Jimny getting a little long-in-the-tooth now – it’s a bit dated isn’t? Still, if you really want to find out what a Jimny’s like to live with, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find out”.

A couple of well placed emails and a few weeks later, and Suzuki’s press demonstrator Jimny SZ4 – that’s the top-of-range one,-  rolls up outside. Were it not for its late 2012 “62” number-plates it’s virtually indistinguishable to my eyes at least, from the many other Jimnys I soon discover that are to be found on the driveways and in the garages of the more remote small holdings and houses that litter this, one of the hillier parts, of The Marches. They’re everywhere. Suddenly I’m beginning to see what inspired Mrs B’s initial inquiry.

I was right about the dated part though. Despite a thorough freshening up for 2013 that sees the Jimny gain a new front bumper, restyled grille and new bonnet complete with air scoop, compared to nearly every other car  I can think of that costs the better part of £13,750 these days it does look decidedly narrow. And it’s tall too, it might be the smallest SUV on the market but it still towers over most family hatch-backs. But then you knew that already, the Jimny’s been around since 1998 and it’s simple, squared-off, wheel-in-each-corner, spare-on-the-back, Land-Rover-that’s-been boil-washed stance has never really changed.

Tug open the Jimny’s rather light feeling door and an equally simple interior greets you. The steering column is fixed so there’s no adjustment, and the seats move merely fore and aft. Ahead lays a logically laid out dash that houses both speedo and tacho, as well as the gauges for fuel and water temperature. To your left, in the centre consol you’ll find the controls for virtually everything else, including that all-important 4 wheel-drive button plus another to select low range. Make no mistakes, despite its size, a Jimny will go practically anywhere you point it.

When it comes to luxuries however, and what’s now considered by many as standard equipment, the list of what you don’t get is almost as long as the list of that of what you do. C.D. player? Yes: Bluetooth? No. Air-con? Yes. USB input? No. Sat-nav, heated seats, DAB?  Don’t be silly, even legroom for rear passengers seems to have been left out. The Jimny’s interior is every bit as small and utilitarian as you expect it to be. Although, if you plump for the range-topper, part leather trim is standard. But don’t expect any soft touch plastics - there’s even the odd exposed screw head in places. Funnily enough though, up-front it’s surprisingly comfortable, as long as you don’t mind a slight lack of right-side elbow room of course, – you do sit rather close to the door. Visibility on the other hand is excellent, in every direction.

The way the Jimny drives and its performance, also seem to be from another much simpler era. With a beam axle back and front, and a ladder chassis to hold them together, plus a very short wheel-base, the ride can only be described as bumpy. On all but the smoothest of surfaces the Jimny bounces around, there’s little in the way of grip and the steering feels both loose and vague. With only 84bhp and 5 very short ratios in a gearbox that combines all the feel and directness of a stick in a bucket Suzuki’s little SUV is anything but quick: 0-60 takes nearly 15 seconds and terminal velocity, I’m told, is just 87mph. Frankly, I wasn’t brave enough to find out; 40 feels more like 80 thanks to a heady combination of wind noise and transmission whine. And because of those barn-door aerodynamics, for a car of its size the Jimny’s fuel consumption and its eco-credentials are pretty scary too.

 The Jimny was with us for a week. After just 6 miles of driving Mrs B declared “I just can’t get on with it, I never know if it’s in gear or not. It’s noisy, it skips all over the place, and even the indicator stalk is on the wrong side. I’m not sure I could live with one of these at all”

 At first I had to agree, but… After spending time in the Jimny’s company I began defending its idiosyncrasies; surely, they add to its character? I found myself taking it out just for the sake of it. And, I actually like the fact you have to drive the Jimny rather than, like you do in so much of today’s modern machinery; just merely guide it up the road. It’s gone now; I’m beginning to miss it.  I’ve even started scouring the small-ads for a cheap one.

 You never know, a small 4x4, it might be handy, you know, for me, around here, when it snows…

 

Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4

 

Engine: 1328cc 4Cyl 16V petrol

Transmission: 5 speed Manual, Selectable Four wheel drive.

Power:  84 bhp @ 6000pm

Torque: 81 lbft @ 4100rpm

0-62MPH: 14.1 Sec

Max Speed: 87 mph

CO2: 162 g/km

MPG: 39.8 combined

Price: £13,295

Many thanks to Jade at Suzuki’s UK press office for the loan of the Jimny

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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