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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's cheap, rugged and good off-road

Against The quality of the on-road ride and handling is awful and space is limited inside

Verdict Very cheap and tough, but no other redeeming features

Go for… JLX

Avoid… JLX soft-top

Suzuki Jimny 4x4
  • 1. Look out for fluid leaks from automatic gearboxes
  • 2. Driveshafts can wear out quickly
  • 3. The cabin is cramped and uncomfortable; the ride is hard and bouncy, too
  • 4. Head- and legroom are so cramped in the back it’s better to treat the car as a two-seater
  • 5. Go for later, uprated 1.3-litre versions
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Suzuki Jimny 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Jimny’s most significant attraction as a used car is that it provides real 4x4 style and off-road ability at a bargain price. Only the likes of the Daihatsu Terios and Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin can come close to the same deal.

There’s certainly no doubting the Jimny’s ability off-road, but it’s far less happy on Tarmac. It’s very unrefined and, on anything other than a perfectly smooth road, its ride is firm and bouncy, it jolts its passengers around and the body rolls too much in bends.

To cap it all, the Jimny is also narrow and very impractical. Drivers over six feet tall will find legroom tight, and both head- and legroom are so cramped in the back it’s better to treat the car as a two-seater and fold down the rear seats to extend the tiny boot.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Good value and reliable. Go for 02 models which sell easier

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

On paper, it looks as if the Jimny range is pretty basic: there was just one trim and one engine for most of its life, with a choice of hard or soft tops. However, that doesn’t quite tell the whole truth, because the huge range of accessories allowed owners to personalise their cars, so you may well need to shop around to find one that suits you.

Mechanically, all Jimnys are pretty much the same. For most of its life the Jimny had a 79bhp 1.3-litre engine, which was only uprated in January 2005 as part of a major face-lift that also brought a revised cabin. These face-lifted models are the best ones in the range, but steer clear of the soft-top. It doesn’t give a true wind-in-the-hair experience and had to carry on with the weaker, less refined old engine even after the face-lift.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Has undoubted retail appeal, needs JLX spec and alloys

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Jimny has always been one of the cheapest new 4x4s, and it’s the same in the used market. Other than the Daihatsu Terios, you simply can’t find another 4x4 of the same age and with the same mileage for less. It even makes the Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin look dear – no mean feat.

In terms of daily running costs, the Jimny is pretty much on a par with the Terios. It does only a couple of miles less to each gallon (38.7mpg), but the two cars’ insurance costs are virtually identical (groups 7 to 9) and routine maintenance costs are slightly less on the Suzuki.

What’s more, if you need to repair your Jimny, there should be no nasty shocks. According to Warranty Direct, both average repair bills and dealer labour rates for Suzuki are among the very lowest of all makes.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Good value and reliable. Go for 02 models which sell easier

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Only one recall has affected the Jimny: in 2001 almost 4000 cars built in 1998 and 1999 were recalled because of a possible fault with the gearchange.

Other than that, the Jimny seems to be as tough as it looks. Warranty Direct doesn’t publish any separate figures for the car, but there’s nothing to suggest it will be anything other than very solid. The larger Vitara 4x4, for example, has been one the most reliable cars on the company’s books.

The only potential problems we have heard about are fluid leaks from automatic gearboxes, drive shafts that can wear quickly and clips on the soft-top that can break, causing leaks.

If there is a cause for real concern, it’s the Jimny’s poor showing in JD Power reports. However, the concerns were generally about comfort rather than poor mechanical reliability.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Has undoubted retail appeal, needs JLX spec and alloys

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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