…if you can still find one out there

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! -

I DROVE Suzuki’s funky­look­ing new Jimny the other week.

It was a strange event.

Well, maybe not the event it­self but the sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing it.

It tran­spires only 600 Jim­nys are com­ing to the UK and most of that piti­fully small al­lot­ment are al­ready spo­ken for. So pub­lic­ity is the last thing Suzuki UK wants.

Not sure what the col­lec­tive noun for a load of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists is (it’s prob­a­bly un­print­able) but there we were be­ing asked not to write reams about this new Jimny but, in­stead, the new Vi­tara’s soft-touch dash­board.

So there we are. Con­sider the dash­board (not ac­tu­ally that soft to touch in re­al­ity) duly men­tioned.

You might won­der. I know we did. It’s all about emis­sions – or CO2 to be pre­cise. For ex­actly the same rea­son you can’t get your sticky mitts on the sub­lime Re­nault Sport Me­gane this side of a po­ten­tial blue moon, the Jimny is in short sup­ply be­cause it coughs out more than its fair share of green­house gasses.

Suzuki, like any other man­u­fac­turer, will there­fore be fined by some depart­ment in Brus­sels/Stras­bourg (delete as ap­pli­ca­ble) if their group CO2 out­put ex­ceeds 90g/km.

So the Jimny, which emits an of­fi­cial WLTP 178g/km, is an un­help­ful ad­di­tion to Suzuki’s cur­rent line-up, par­tic­u­larly if sold in large num­bers.

The fact it’s Euro6 com­pli­ant ap­pears not to mat­ter a jot.

Here’s an in­ter­est­ing point. While man­u­fac­tur­ers have known some­thing like this was go­ing to hap­pen for a cou­ple of years, the de­tails have only been made clear in the last 12 months.

That’s a rub­bish sit­u­a­tion, when prod­uct plan­ning and sales fore­cast­ing can take up to five years. But hands are tied and it is what it is.

The Jimny looks bet­ter in the flesh than it does in pics. Sort of rugged and pur­pose­ful. Tonka-ish yet cute and fun, like some kind of Manga toy that mated with an H3 Hum­mer.

The re­al­ity is that un­der­neath it’s just an old Jimny with a 35mm wider track and a more rigid body.

Yes, it’s still a bit of a hor­ror show on tar­mac – skit­ter­ing and jit­ter­ing over bumps with loads of body lean and a dis­tinct lack of re­fine­ment on al­most ev­ery level – but it’s soon for­given.

Af­ter the first few me­tres of tricky off-road driv­ing – trans­mis­sion locked in low-ra­tio – ev­ery­thing be­comes crys­tal clear and the Jimny re­ally comes into its own. Even on road-spec Bridge­stone Dueler tyres, this light­weight, all-wheel drive Tonka toy will go pretty much any­where.

Be­cause of the com­i­cally short front and rear over­hangs it’ll cope with pretty se­vere gra­di­ents with­out chin­ning it­self or ground­ing out its rear end.

The only short­fall is its travers­ing ca­pa­bil­ity be­cause it’s so nar­row and tall. Even so, what it can do off-road will make your eye­balls bulge.

And that’s the whole point of a Jimny – this is pocket-sized Land Rover/G-Wagon go-any­where ter­ri­tory…at a quar­ter of the price.

The Jimny might be the dif­fer­ence be­tween starv­ing and eat­ing when you live in the Cairn­gorms and it’s been snow­ing hard for a week. It’s sim­ply a mo­torised goat with a de­cent heater and space for four adults.

Fold the back seats flat and there’s room for two adults and a boot-full of crazed bor­der col­lies.

This is a car I could own if I lived back in my na­tive Lake Dis­trict. It would have a tow bar and a spare set of wheels with snow boots on. The tow bar would al­low it to oc­ca­sion­ally per­form the func­tion of a small but cheap trac­tor.

Trou­ble is, if I did want one I prob­a­bly couldn’t have one be­cause there won’t be enough to go around.

Did I men­tion the soft-touch Vi­tara dash­board?

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■RUGGED: Jimny’s a star off-road but not so great on the tar­mac

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