The Citizen (KZN)

Suzuki Jimny gets practical


- Jaco van der Merwe

Offers decent rear legroom and adequate boot space.

Quirky. Robust. Cute. Rugged. Boxy. Tenacious. You can call the Suzuki Jimny whatever you want, its unique allure has earned worldwide popularity few other car badges can rival.

While the little off-road-focussed SUV that’s name is short for “Jeep mini” has nothing left to prove, there was one area that limited its potential: practicali­ty.

After the first two generation­s only offered seating for two, a longer wheelbase featuring on the next two generation­s meant the Suzuki Jimny finally got rear seats.

The downside was that it still only had three doors and offered limited boot space behind the second row. Anyone with a family will know this is impractica­l for daily life.

Suzuki last year finally answered the prayers of many by introducin­g five-door versions to the Jimny.

After experienci­ng the new addition on an epic adventure to Botswana last year, we received a long-term five-door Jimny on test this month.

While we have a few adventures lined up for it, we’re keen to see how it copes with normal everyday life. That is where most Jimnys will spend their days.

Our tester is the R457 900 top-spec GLX AllGrip derivative with five-speed manual transmissi­on, clad in dual-tone paintwork which combines Sizzling Red Metallic with a Bluish Black Pearl roof.

This colour combinatio­n works a charm with the 17-inch grey alloy wheels, five-door-specific chrome grille and projector-type LED headlights which feature washers along with fog lamps.

Power comes from Suzuki’s tried-and-trusted naturally aspirated 1.5-litre KB14B engine which produces 75kW of power and 130Nm of torque.

The twist is routed to the rear or all four wheels via the AllGrip four-wheel-drive system which features low range.

The transfer case gear lever, which can be shifted from 2H to 4H at speeds of up to 100km/h, gives the Jimny some real oldschool charm.

It carries a type of mechanical assurance akin to an old Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series that simply can’t be matched by more modern electrical systems.

At 3 985mm, the Suzuki Jimny five-door is 360mm longer than its three-door sibling, with the wheelbase increasing by 340mm to 2 590mm.

Its height (1 720mm), width (1 645mm) and ground clearance (210mm) stays the same, with the weight up 105kg to 1 200kg.

To accommodat­e the extra weight, Suzuki tweaked the suspension and front brakes and revised the chassis.

The extra length means a significan­t improvemen­t on the legroom in the rear, with boot space going up from the tiny 85 litres in the three-door to 211 litres.

While four passengers will still struggle to fit in holiday luggage, it is adequate for school and sports bags and maybe even a large dog.

With the rear seats folded, cargo space goes up to 1 113 litres.

Despite the decent leg and headroom in the rear, the fivedoor is far from perfect.

It lacks rear vents, rear door storage space and rear USB ports.

It does offer two cup holders in the centre console, which must be shared with front passengers, and pockets at the back of the front seats.

In the front, the Suzuki Jimny five-door features a nine-inch touchscree­n infotainme­nt system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Being a GLX, it also features cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel, dual zone climate control and revised TFT display in the instrument cluster.

Out on the road, many more adjectives can be found describing the Jimny.

The clutch is easy to operate and short gear ratios mean a lot of rowing around town. While its size should make it easy to manoeuvre in theory, tight turns do require strong input on the steering wheel. Also do not expect to break any land speed records on the open road. With the revs well over at 3 500rpm and with lots of wind noise, the Jimny isn’t the kind of car you want to push to far past 100km/h.

Fuel consumptio­n over the first 1 000km came in at 7.1 litres per 100km, not too far off Suzuki’s claimed 6.3l/100km.

One 200km round trip between Johannesbu­rg and Sasolburg returned a number of 6.8l/100km. Not bad, considerin­g we had four adults in the car which took resulted in some high revving at times to get in reach of the national limit.

But despite it being thin on creature comforts, the four adults on this trip, and two young teenagers on daily school runs, have had nothing to complain about.

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