Some time back I mentioned online that I liked the look and the capabilities of the Suzuki Jimny and that I possibly wanted one of my own. The powers that be at Suzuki SA got wind of this and were kind enough to let me test one for a week. This was brilliant, but at the same time it was pure torture – well after the test week is when the torture started. I really liked the compact 4x4, so much so that since then I’ve wanted one more than the DA wants payback for Nkandla.
During that week I had to get used to a much slower and higher ride than usual, but it didn’t bother me at all, the fun I had with the Jimny at Bass Lake was an epiphany – there’s more to motoring than power and speed. Yes, I said that, ok! The test week was in October; I think I only stopped smiling in December when there wasn’t one under the tree. That test Jimny was a brand new 2013 model, in manual.
Since then, Suzuki SA has brought out a face lifted Jimny and I just completed a week behind the wheel of one. A week that flew by way to fast again. On this new Jimny, there have been changes to both the exterior and interior. Starting on the outside one colour was dropped from the available options, a light metallic blue, but two really cool colours have replaced it – Khaki Pearl Metallic and Bison Brown. While the khaki is a very cool colour, the Bison Brown is just too damn cool. As you can see from the pics, this is the colour I had, and one day when I order my own Jimny, this will be my choice. I mean come on, metallic brown, is there anything more porno? It’s such a pity that pics don’t do the colour justice. You need to see it with your won eyes in the sun.
To go with the new paint options Suzuki have also introduced a new style of 15-inch wheel that’s finished in a wicked dark silver colour. This new, darker wheel looks great on all the available colours, it just works right. If I had an older model Jimny I’d do my best to get a set of these new ones, and no, you can’t go take the spare wheels from parked Jimnys – that’ll get you arrested and rightly so.
The Jimny was never built for luxury, but it has everything you need in a car, especially one that can cross a continent if needed. For this updated model there were still some interior upgrades though, and they’re all pretty cool. There’s an all-new instrument cluster going on, the speedo and rev gauge are still in play, but they now sport a silver bezel and a carbon-look backing. In the centre of them there’s now a new digital display that shows some info like the engine’s operating temperature, an ambient temperature display, the fuel level and a trip meter. On the auto model it also shows the position of the shifter. Oh, yeah, I guess I should have mentioned that the new Jimny is also now available in auto. I’ll get back to that later. There’s a new steering wheel design too that is now more in line with what you find in the other Suzuki models on the market.
The seats have a new, more durable upholstery, which is good news for those buyers who will be using the little 4x4 in the deepest, darkest recesses of Africa. The rest of the feature list includes remote central locking, a combination radio / CD head unit, electric windows and air-conditioning. On the safety side of things, the Jimny is the same as the pre-facelift model and includes dual front airbags, head restraints, inertia reel seatbelts, and ABS brakes. All the basics that make life behind the wheel comfortable – especially on 4x4 trails.
As said, this is a facelift, so under that hood there’s still the same M13 motor, a typically Japanese lump that likes to be revved. The 1328cc, 4-cylinder engine produces 63kW and 110Nm of torque, which are pretty small numbers but with the Jimny weighing it at 1420kg it can easily keep up with the nutters in the fast lane. That goes for the manual and the auto versions.
So yeah, this test car was the new automatic version that’s been eagerly awaited by many Suzuki Jimny fans. A 4x4 in auto seems to be a much wanted option and I was never really sure why until I tried it for myself. With the manual version you need to learn clutch control for climbing over obstacles or for going down steep inclines. When I did the 4x4 course at Bass Lake the biggest problem I had was to trust the car and being able to just let it ride on the compression and gears instead of constantly trying to get optimal clutch control. With the auto version all you need to do is push the 4WD button and attack the obstacle and the Jimny idles over whatever you put in front of it. For some of the pics I wanted to take, I decided to park the Jimny on the top of a big, smooth rock and in 4WD the wheels started to slip around a bit. All I needed to do to get the little 4x4 into position was to put the thing in 4-Low and give slight input on the throttle.
The shorter gearing in the low range is insane, the Jimny simply crawled up to the top, much to the delight of the onlookers who paused their picnic to watch. From the whistles and clapping I’m positive they were impressed, as was I of course. I never doubted the Jimny could do it though. Also, to further prove to the onlookers just how slippery the giant rock was, I completed a not so gracious slip, slide and tumble all the way down landing firmly on my ass at the bottom but with camera held high and undamaged. I’m half expecting to be tagged in a YouTube clip one day soon…
How’s the auto ‘box on the streets? Look, you’re not going to win any races with the Jimny Auto. First gear sees the revs rise pretty slowly, even with your right foot flat, but as it rounds the 4500 mark it feels much better. The switch to 2nd is seamless, and with your foot still flat the speedo will climb to the 60s. The revs sound high but these little motors like and need to be revved properly to work as intended. The shift into third is where you can back off the gas because you’ve now hit the 80s and are up to speed with the traffic, and as soon as you do, it’ll switch over to 4th where it’s more than happy to tackle the highways. I found that I was always out ahead of the traffic from a standstill pull away anyway. When on the open road and you hit a hill, it’ll kick back down to 3rd and use the revs again to get up to speed. It took me a day or so to get used to the auto and the way it likes to shift, and yeah, now I’m a fan.
As with all cars the Jimny does have some downsides, but for a fan like me I’ll overlook them of course. For a good review they need to be mentioned though. Storage space in the boot is minimal at just 113 litres, but if you’re single or a happy couple, the back seats will serve as storage space or you can fold things away which bumps that up to 816 litres. The fuel tank is small at just 40-litres so coastal trips will need a stopover unlike most small capacity cars these days that can hit Durban in a single go. The radio setup is not the best, I mean you’ll hear your favourite station but cranking your best traffic song up leaves you wondering where the bass went. For most it’ll be adequate, for those that want more there are aftermarket options available to beef things up – just check with your dealer what you can and can’t do with regards to warranties and stuff though.
If you’ve ever followed any of my posts on any kind of social media, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of these little 4x4s with my #JimnyoftheDay posts, and as such, would expect a little (ok, maybe more than a little) bias to creep in. I can’t help it though, this little thing really is that good. Would I choose manual over auto or visa versa? I’m easy either way, but the old man in me really likes the auto option to navigate the ever-worsening JHB traffic. If you’re after a small, capable 4x4, a Suzuki Jimny is definitely something you should take a look at. As a daily it’s great and as a dedicated weekend 4x4 it’s even better. The host of approved Suzuki aftermarket parts can turn the Jimny from very capable to pretty much unstoppable; lift kits, bigger wheels, bash plates, radial cup protectors and full off-road bumpers are among the options list.
The manual Suzuki Jimny Manual will set you back R224 900 and the Suzuki Jimny Automatic is R239 900. Both come with a 4-year / 60 000km service plan and a 3-year 100 000km warranty. The latter will probably never be used though. I know a few people who work for Suzuki at dealerships and whenever I visit I like to take a look in the workshop and the only cars I ever see are there for services or the fitment of approved accessories. That should tell you something…
For more info, head on over to www.suzukiauto.co.za.
Once again, thanks to Megan at Suzuki SA for organising me this Jimny Auto. If it's ever in your way at the head office, I have space for it. Just sayin'...