2013 Suzuki Jimny review
Instead of laying this ageing SUV to rest, though, Suzuki has given it a further stay of execution with some updates for 2013.
The changes are mostly cosmetic. The exterior gets a restyled front bumper and grille, and a redesigned bonnet with a new central air intake.
Inside, the Jimny now comes with Isofix mounting points, while other updates include new seat fabric and headrests.
The 2013 Jimny is unchanged mechanically, with a 84bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine and five-speed manual gearbox. However, range-topping SZ4 models are available with an optional four-speed automatic gearbox.
What's the 2013 Suzuki Jimny like to drive?
On the road, the Jimny is pretty awful to drive. It might be incredibly short geared, but performance is feeble; 0-62mph takes 14.1 seconds (17.2 seconds for the optional auto).
The steering is light, but extremely slow to react and there's too much play around the straight-ahead. This makes even simple tasks, such as parking and negotiating tight bends, surprisingly difficult.
In town, the ride is poor. Despite chunky tyres, the Jimny is flustered by even the slightest imperfections in the road surface.
Things are even worse at higher speeds, because the Jimny's tall body bounces around nervously over dips and crests. The steering barely weights up at all at speed and there's lots of body lean, so fast sweeping corners are unnerving.
Hard acceleration sends shudders through the gearstick, steering wheel and pedals, urging you to ease off. The gearshift is decidedly agricultural, too, so selecting the right gear isn't always easy. Worse still, the Jimny generates lots of wind, road and, especially, engine noise at speed.
In all, the Jimny feels out of its depth at anything more than 55mph.
The Jimny is remarkably good off-road, though. A lightweight body, four-wheel drive, a low-ratio gearbox, short overhangs and impressive ground clearance mean the Suzuki will tackle all but the roughest of terrains.
What's the 2013 Suzuki Jimny like inside?
The Jimny's no-frills dashboard is simple and well laid out. The dials are clearly visible and the major controls are all within easy reach, even if they look rather dated.
The range-topping SZ4 model we drove is fairly well equipped, too, getting artificial leather seats, electric windows, heated door mirrors and air-conditioning as standard.
However, the Jimny is far from luxurious, with cheap plastics throughout the cabin.
Suzuki hasn't swapped around the indicator and wiper stalks for UK cars, either, which means you have to get used to indicating with your right hand.
The driver's seat doesn't adjust for height and the steering wheel doesn't adjust at all, yet, despite this, the driving position isn't too bad for people of most shapes and sizes.
All-round visibility is good, thanks to those big side windows, a lofty driving position and a near-vertical windscreen.
The Jimny's short wheelbase limits rear legroom, but headroom is impressive in both the front and the back. Unfortunately, the boot is tiny, so carrying anything more than a couple of shopping bags will require the rear seats to be folded. These fall flat, but leave a big step in the floor.
The Jimny has a side-hinged tailgate, which limits access in tight parking spaces, but there isn't a big lip to lift things over.
Should I buy one?
Prices start at £11,995, and even the range-topping SZ4 auto model costs just £13,800. That makes the Jimny significantly cheaper than its closest rival, the Fiat Panda 4x4.
However, there are some good reasons for the bargain price: the Jimny is terrible to drive on the road, is extremely unrefined and, with just two airbags and no stability control, it falls short of modern safety expectations.
If you plan to use it solely for off-road purposes you might be prepared to overlook its flaws, but as a road car, the Jimny is impossible to recommend.
What Car? says...
Fiat Panda 4x4
Engine size 1.3-litre
Price from £11,995
Torque 81lb ft
Top speed 87mph
Fuel economy 39.8mpg
By Dan Alcock
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