Aggro-cute Jimny comes out to play

LO­CAL LAUNCH/ Look­ing like a mini Hum­mer, Suzuki’s new charmer has more power and bet­ter of­froad abil­ity, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

The first new Jimny in 20 years has the 4x4 world in a buzz. There is a world­wide short­age on Suzuki’s lit­tle of­froad ve­hi­cle with a wait­ing list of more than two-and-ahalf years in Ja­pan alone, while the first two South African shipments have al­ready sold out.

It’s the styling that has grabbed at­ten­tion, and the boxy, aggro-cute de­sign gives it the look of a mini Hum­mer. When you stand be­side this short, diminu­tive car you can hardly imag­ine that four large peo­ple could fit in­side it. But they do.

Along with the cute-enoughto-eat styling and a dash of ex­tra power, Suzuki’s ’lil of­froader has taken an in­te­rior growth spurt with 4cm of ex­tra rear legroom. With the rear seats up it still has the lug­gage space of a car­rier pi­geon, but where the pre­vi­ous Jimny’s back seat threat­ened deep vein throm­bo­sis for any adults who ven­tured there, the new car is use­fully spa­cious.

The Jimny 4x4 has earned a David vs Go­liath rep­u­ta­tion for its of­froad skills, be­ing able to scurry over most of the same ob­sta­cles as much more ex­pen­sive SUVs. But it lacked one vi­tal in­gre­di­ent: the abil­ity to get over axle-twisters. Now it’s fixed that by gain­ing Brake Lim­ited Slip Dif­fer­en­tial and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tems. The Brake LSD sys­tem sends torque to the wheel with grip if an­other wheel on the same axle starts spin­ning, en­sur­ing that the Jimny will keep go­ing over un­even ter­rain.

The sys­tem was suc­cess­fully demon­strated at the Jimny’s me­dia launch in Mpumalanga, where the new car was able to com­plete an axle-twist­ing course with more ease than a pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Jimny (with­out LSD) that was brought along for com­par­i­son.

It adds an ex­tra di­men­sion to the Jimny’s trail-tack­ling prow­ess, along with the ground clear­ance be­ing raised to 210mm for even bet­ter ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles.

Hill Hold Con­trol and Hill De­scent Con­trol are stan­dard fare on the Jimny, which as be­fore is built on a rigid lad­der­frame chas­sis (now with 1.5 times more tor­sional rigid­ity) and em­ploys rigid front and rear axles with coil spring sus­pen­sion for max­i­mum wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion in of­froad driv­ing.

The Al­lGrip Pro part-time 4x4 sys­tem al­lows the driver to switch between rear-wheel drive and 4x4 high and low range, old-school style with a sec­ond gear lever.

The launch drive in­cluded some rough gravel roads in the Sappi forests and the lit­tle Jimny scam­pered through the bumpy stuff like a moun­tain goat. Its un­der­sides stayed safely out of harm’s way with the ap­proach an­gle im­proved from 35° to 37°, the breakover an­gle from 27° to 28°, and the de­par­ture an­gle from 46° to 49°.

It felt very sturdy on those rip­pled roads too, with min­i­mal body flex­ing. The ride qual­ity was sur­pris­ingly com­pli­ant and not overtly choppy for such a short wheel­base.

There’s more thrust un­der the bon­net with the en­gine size grow­ing from 1.3l to 1.5l. The 75kW and 130Nm won’t get you any­where in a hurry but it’s a wel­come improve­ment es­pe­cially in open-road cruis­ing. In five-speed man­ual or four­speed au­to­matic guises it cruises with­out the en­gine scream­ing.

The slightly larger new en­gine is lighter and more eco­nom­i­cal than its fore­run­ner, lead­ing to a claimed 14% fuel con­sump­tion improve­ment.

Two grades are on of­fer: the few-frills GA which comes only with air­con and power steer­ing; and the higher-specced GLX which also lays on elec­tric win­dows and mir­rors, a leather­cov­ered mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel, 15-inch al­loy wheels, cruise con­trol, LED pro­jec­tor head­lamps, front fog lights and split rear seats that fold flat into the floor.

The GLA also gets a fancier in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem in the form of a 17.8cm touch­screen smart­phone in­ter­face with Blue­tooth, Ap­ple Carplay, An­droid Auto and Mir­ror Link.

Safety lev­els are iden­ti­cal on both the GA and GLX with ABS brakes, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and dual front airbags.

The cabin draws on the orig­i­nal Jimny (which in past lives was called the LJ and the Samu­rai) with its ex­posed painted me­tal win­dow frames and three-layer dash­board, but it has been mod­ernised for more com­fort with front seats that are longer and wider and have an im­proved slid­ing range to ac­com­mo­date taller driv­ers.

Un­like so many SUVs that spend most of their time on the tar, the Jimny is a hard­core of­froad ve­hi­cle for week­end war­riors who view life through mud-splat­tered wind­screens.

But I sus­pect even the non­mud con­tin­gent will be buy­ing it as their commuter be­cause it’s just so darn charm­ing. Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GA Man­ual: R264,900 Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Man­ual: R299,900 Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Auto: R319,900

All prices in­clude a fiveyear/200,000km war­ranty. The GLX is stan­dard with a fouryear/60,000km ser­vice plan and the GA model with a twoyear/30,000km ser­vice plan.

Left: Boxy styling is rem­i­nis­cent of the first Suzuki LJ (the Jimny’s pre­de­ces­sor) launched in 1970. The ve­hi­cle’s rock­strad­dling abil­ity is bet­ter with raised ride height and a new diff lock, below. The cabin, below left, has been enlarged and mod­ernised.

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