Updated over the years, the Jimny’s 1.3-litre petrol engine now gives 84bhp and 81lb ft of torque, but it’s still slow. The manual version takes over 14 seconds to reach 60mph and the four-speed auto over 17; top speed is just 87mph (84mph auto). Mind you, given the Jimny’s top-heavy feel and poor grip, you wouldn’t want to go any faster. Off-road, it holds its own.
In a sector where we have come to expect so much, the Jimny is outdated. It is good off-road and can tackle demanding terrain. However, back on terra firma, the ride is uncomfortably firm and bouncy on anything other than a glass-smooth road. It also leans in corners and has little grip.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Suzuki has totally ignored refinement in the Jimny. The engine is coarse when revved hard – something you have to do all too regularly. Out of town and at higher speeds, it becomes unacceptably noisy, with roar coming from the tyres, the engine and wind.
The Jimny is cheap for a fully-fledged 4x4, but residual values are very poor – come resale time, it’ll be worth less than a third of the original price. Fuel economy isn’t great for a car of this size, either. Regardless of which gearbox you choose, you’ll get less than 40mpg. CO2 emissions aren’t brilliant, either. At least Suzuki servicing is affordable.
Having a separate chassis means the Jimny has been constructed with serious off-road use in mind. It can cope with this with no problem, while the engine and transmission should give no trouble. However, the interior feels very tacky indeed, with cheap materials and one or two rough edges.
The Jimny is way behind modern standards now; there are front airbags only, and no traction or stability control - crucial aids in a small but tall, high-riding vehicle with a high centre of gravity. You won't get an alarm or deadlocks, either.
Perhaps surprisingly, given that the driver’s seat has no height adjustment and you can’t vary the rake or reach of the steering wheel, the driving position is quite good, if rather upright. It gives a good view out, although drivers over six feet tall may find legroom restricted. The simple dash has the necessary information clearly displayed, while all of the controls are easy to reach, and all-round visibility is good.
There’s reasonable head- and legroom for two up front, although the narrow cabin may force them to rub shoulders. Those in the rear get a poor deal: legroom is tight and the cushions are too small. The short overhangs which help the Jimny off-road mean there is next to no boot space, so the car is better viewed as a two-seater. At least the rear seats split and fold to boost luggage space.
All versions of the Jimny have front electric windows, remote central locking, roof rails and a CD player. The dearer SZ4 models add part-leather seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, alloy wheels and smarter looks, with two-tone roof rails, tinted glass and body-coloured door handles. However, essential items, like Bluetooth and an MP3 connection, aren’t even available as options.
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