4WORD

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - MATT RAUDONIKIS

AS WE head into the last quar­ter of the year, the launch I’m most look­ing for­ward to is the Suzuki Jimny Sierra. The pint-sized off-roader gets a new body and pow­er­train for 2019, yet it re­tains its lad­der chas­sis, live axles and dual-range trans­fer case, so it should re­main a great lit­tle 4x4.

Suzuki has al­ready shown the new Jimny to the world, but it won’t be on sale here un­til early next year. The new three-door body is as boxy as ever, box­ier than the last model in fact, and it just looks like a 4x4 should: func­tional and built for pur­pose, de­spite its size.

Suzuki has a long his­tory of great four-wheel drive ve­hi­cles, start­ing with the tiny two-stroke LJ mod­els right up to the new car. Most of them have been two-door soft- or hard-top ve­hi­cles, and there were a few long wheel­base and cab-chas­sis vari­ants along the way. The LWB cab-chas­sis was called the Stockman, and it’s still a farmer’s favourite thanks to its of­froad abil­ity, func­tion­al­ity, sim­plic­ity, light weight and dura­bil­ity.

We reckon Suzuki would be on a win­ner if it repli­cated the ute in the new model. In fact, we reckon Suzuki could re­ally use the in­ter­est in this new Jimny Sierra to launch a fam­ily of great lit­tle 4x4 wagons and utes. Think back to when Jeep launched the JK Wrangler in 2006. The Wrangler had al­most al­ways been a SWB two-door soft-top, but when Jeep launched the JK it also de­buted a four-door Un­lim­ited ver­sion built on a long wheel­base, it re-en­gi­neered the re­mov­able hard-top to make it more ver­sa­tile, and a diesel en­gine was even fit­ted to it.

These new vari­ants of the iconic Wrangler proved to be a sales boon for Jeep, and they sold a heap of them. Here we are about to see the JL Wrangler suc­ceed the JK in Aus­tralia, and Jeep will even be adding a dou­ble-cab pick-up to the mix.

Imagine a LWB Jimny with four doors to make it more ap­pli­ca­ble to fam­ily use; and sin­gle- and dou­ble-cab Stockman utes with a lit­tle diesel en­gine in them would be pop­u­lar with both fam­i­lies and farm­ers. A whole fam­ily of new Jim­nys would rein­vig­o­rate the name plate by ap­peal­ing to a much wider buy­ing au­di­ence. This would spark a new breed of Suzuki en­thu­si­asts mod­i­fy­ing them to suit their needs, in-turn fu­elling the af­ter­mar­ket in­dus­try to pro­duce prod­ucts for them. It would be a win-win sit­u­a­tion for buy­ers, the in­dus­try and the man­u­fac­turer. So what do you reckon, Suzuki? What else have your engi­neers and de­sign­ers got on their notepads and wish lists?

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