1 MIGHTY MIDGET
THE JIMNY SIERRA TRACES A DIRECT LINEAGE BACK TO THE ORIGINAL 4X4 CREATED BY SUZUKI NEARLY 50 YEARS AGO.
PRICE $22,990 ENGINE 1.3-litre 4-cyl petrol
THE Jimny is an old-school-tough 4x4. Old-school in this case means a separate chassis and live axles back and front, just like a Toyota 70 Series, a GU Patrol, a Land Rover Defender or a Jeep Wrangler. The Jimny comes with either a fivespeed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, but in one trim level. For a number of reasons we prefer the auto, but there’s a case to be made for the manual (the $2000 discount, for one).
With either manual or auto you get a 1.3litre four-cylinder petrol engine that claims a very modest 62.5kw at a heady 6000rpm and 110Nm that doesn’t come onstream until 4100rpm. The Jimny’s engine features double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on the inlet side, and it was introduced to the Jimny in 2005.
Offsetting the low power and torque numbers is a kerb weight of just 1075kg, so in terms of power-to-weight that’s the same as having a 2150kg 4x4 with 125kw, which is not unusual. However, the engine still needs plenty of revs to give its best, which doesn’t help the otherwise good fuel economy.
The manual is the pick for on-road driving, but the auto comes into its own offroad – particularly for rock climbing, given the gearing multiplier effect of the torque converter helps overcome the modest crawl ratio and the lack of engine torque at low engine speeds. The auto also works better in sand and has the advantage of longer highway legs.
The Jimny ticks all the basic boxes when off-road: light weight, decent clearance, generous wheel travel (thanks to its front and rear live axles), steep approach and departure angles, a tight turning circle and good visibility. The newly fitted electronic traction control (from 2015-on) helps off-road and is a welcome addition.
The Jimny’s light weight makes for a fun on-road drive, but its relatively narrow track and tall stance are limiting factors when pushing on. Surprisingly, for a very light 4x4 with front and rear live axles, ride quality and general stability are both better than expected.
The Jimny’s big limitation is its size. It seats just four, and if you’re going away for a bush weekend there’s really only room for two people plus luggage. The small 40-litre fuel tank and 95RON fuel requirement are also limitations you need to be aware of.
Still, the Jimny is a fun-filled, highly practical, down-to-earth 4x4 that’s great value for the money. Plus it’s supported by a wide range of aftermarket enhancements.