Road­trip­ping with a Jimny

AL­WYN VILJOEN tests Suzuki’s new go-any­where run­about for a lady who wants to buy one

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

I HAVE now spent over 15 hours in the cute-as-a-but­ton Jimny, driv­ing as many dirt roads as I could find from Hazyview in Mpumalanga to Mar­itzburra, and my kid­neys aren’t bleed­ing.

That tells you all you need to know about the soft ride the new Jimny of­fers.

In fact, it’s al­most too soft for some of the muddy slopes I tack­led, but what it loses on the bumps, it makes up on tar, where the new Jimny is as com­fort­able as Suzuki’s en­gi­neers could make a short, light, proper 4x4.

So you can put a “Yes” next to the ques­tion “Can I live with this car in town?”

But let not my need for harder dampers, erm, dampen your en­thu­si­asm for this hardy lit­tle car.

Fo­cus rather on how lit­tle fuel I used — get­ting over 20 km a litre by trav­el­ling at a se­date 100 on tar and av­er­ag­ing 14 km from each litre in town, ac­cord­ing to the on­board com­puter.

Shoul­der-rub­bing tight

In­side, I en­joyed be­ing able to slot my mu­sic in ei­ther an SD card reader or a USB port.

The USB port has a lit­tle cover that you have to slide up with a fin­ger­nail. On a gravel road, this cover promptly slid down, re­quir­ing me to play three-fin­ger twis­ter to lift that lit­tle cover and slot in a mem­ory stick or power ca­ble at the same time.

Suzuki makes much of the big but­tons and in­frared touch­screeen that were de­signed to be used with gloves, but they clearly did not aim that lit­tle USB lid at peo­ple who will wear gloves in a car with air­con­di­tion­ing and a good heater. There is of course a glove box to put gloves in, but all your other para­phanelia bet­ter go in a nar­row bag at the back.

The “cell­phone tray” is only good when parked on the level, and the few hol­lows left will barely fit your smoker’s phara­phena­lia.

So, yes, it’s shoul­der-rub­bing tight in there. This is per­fect if you are tak­ing that spe­cial some­one to a ro­man­tic spot on top of a moun­tain. Just don’t try to load the dogs. Their drool may drown you in that tiny cabin.

What won’t drown you is rain from out­side, thanks to a new drip rail all-round. At the rear this rail looks like a tiny down force wing, but it works well to stop water from run­ning into your neck when load­ing stuff.

Which model?

I re­alise for you “which model” trans­lates to “which colour” and you are spoiled for choice, with eight colours, rang­ing from Jun­gle Green to Brisk Blue and, of course, White.

But what you should be ask­ing is about the spec lev­els, and be­tween the GA or GLX, I’d pick the GLX man­ual.

It can be recog­nised by its 15” al­loy wheels, colour-coded door han­dles and painted ex­te­rior mir­rors. In­side, it boasts cli­mate con­trol, elec­tric win­dows and mir­rors, auto LED pro­jec­tor head­lamps, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and cruise con­trol.

The GLX mod­els are also fit­ted with Suzuki’s Smart­phone Link­age Dis­play Au­dio (SLDA).

This dou­ble-DIN au­dio sys­tem has a 7-inch in­frared-touch screen with An­droid Auto, Ap­ple Carplay and Mir­rorLink in­te­gra­tion. The sys­tem also has Blue­tooth hands-free con­nec­tiv­ity and the most im­por­tant fea­tures can be con­trolled by but­tons on the leather-cov­ered steer­ing wheel.

New, but shorter

The new Jimny is the first model in au­to­mo­tive his­tory that is a bit shorter than the pre­de­ces­sor.

Yet, there is bit more space in­side and with the rear seats flat, you have enough space for a long week­end’s lug­gage.

The engine is larger, up from a 1,3 to a 1,5 that makes 75 kW at 6 000 rpm and 130 Nm at 4 000 rpm. These are high rev­o­lu­tions to do 4x4 crawl­ing with, but some­how the en­gi­neers made the lit­tle engine de­liver the goods even at just above idle.

I tried to stall it by crawl­ing up rocky slopes in first gear with the rev nee­dle un­der 1000, but the Jimny just kept on climb­ing.

It re­ally can climb any­where

I know you don’t want me to bore with the me­chan­i­cals, but at least mem­o­rise All­grip Pro, which is at the heart of the Jimny’s for­mi­da­ble of­froad abil­i­ties,

Un­like the old model, which had but­tons, the 2018 Jimny comes with a 1970s lever to se­lect 4x2, or 4x4 high, or the 4x4 low range trans­fer case.

Don’t worry about the old lever’s ca­ble not be­ing able to shift be­tween 2 high and 4 high on the fly, as it is se­cretly still a elec­tronic but­ton sys­tem that shifts at up to 100 km/h.

And when 4Lo is en­gaged, the Jimny will crawl up any­where while there is grip, thanks to Suzuki’s pro­pri­etary Brake Lim­ited Slip Dif­fer­en­tial and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tems.

The Brake LSD-sys­tem ad­justs torque to the wheel with grip if an­other wheel on the same axle starts spin­ning. Below 30km/h in 4Lo, the sys­tem pro­vides ex­tra power to en­sure it goes up where you want it to.

Brake LSD is sup­ported by Hill Hold Con­trol and Hill De­scent Con­trol, stan­dard on both mod­els. Hill De­scent Con­trol will main­tain a de­scent speed of 10km/h in 4WD high range and 5 km/h in 4WD low range, which is a bit too slow for most ar­eas.

Talk­ing of slow, you can have a four speed au­to­matic or a five speed man­ual. Don’t even think of the auto. Just trust me on this.

The GLX comes with a fouryear or 60 000 km ser­vice plan while the cheaper GA has half this — two years or 30 000 km.

All mod­els are sold with a fiveyear or 200 000 km me­chan­i­cal war­ranty.

Pric­ing (in­clud­ing VAT)

GA MT R264 900

GLX MT R299 900

GLX Auto R319 900

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

The Jimny GLX comes in eight colours. This is Jun­gle Green, which looks very sim­i­lar to the indige­nous Cannabis Sativa at the back, but its dagga-colour is not why the Jimny could drive on wet grass in 2 High. It is be­cause this is the lit­tle 4x4 that can.

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