In the life cycle of the automobile there are some designs that seem to old and dated almost as soon as they launched, while others endure for four or so years until a ‘refresh’ is required and then, there is the Suzuki Jimny.
With some refreshes along the way the little 4×4 has endured for 20 years, in the process becoming a legend in its own lunchtime and now, the really, truly, genuinely, absolutely all-new model has been launched in South Africa as a two model range.
“The new Jimny not only shares many of the design cues of its forebears – the LJ, SJ and Jimny – it also shares their engineering ethos of providing a no-compromise off-road capable vehicle that is accessible to everyone.
“In the absence of many affordable 4×4 vehicles, this philosophy of building a compact and capable off-road vehicle at an affordable price is now more needed than ever. And it has seen the Jimny quickly log multi-year waiting lists in many of the countries in which it has been introduced,” says André Venter, divisional head for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa.
Venter explains that every one of the four generations of the Suzuki Jimny has kept to the same design brief – m build a compact, lightweight, affordable off-road vehicle with true 4×4 capabilities.
In the new generation, this is in its most concentrated form, thanks to the Jimny Chief Engineer Hiroyuki Yenezawa’s philosophy of “making the Jimny more attractive by refining every small detail of the model’s design.”
The new Suzuki Jimny’s angular design pays direct homage to the original LJ Series (1970 – 1981) and SJ Series (1981 – 1998). The new model has the same upturned front fenders, round headlamps and round orange indicators of the LJ Series and the side slits in the clamshell bonnet of the SJ Series. The upright grille is reminiscent of the previous generation’s Jimny (1998 – 2018) and the SJ Series.
The upright design of the roof pillars enables the roof to carry more weight, which is ideal for a roof rack, rooftop tent and for rollover safety in case of an accident. This is further supported by the new model’s all-round drip rail, which has been designed to allow for easy clamping of roof racks, while also being a practical way of keeping passengers dry from water on the roof as they enter or exit the vehicle.
More applicable for overland enthusiasts are the angled front and rear bumpers that not only keep them out of the way of rocks and shrubs, but also increase the approach and departure angles. The front bumper design also exposes more of the tyre tread on a horizontal plane for greater climbing capability in rocky off-road conditions.
At the rear of the vehicle, Suzuki designers have moved all the lights into the horizontal rear bumper, which has allowed them to create a wider rear door, for increased practicality.
The spare wheel is fitted to the rear door for easy accessibility, while also freeing up space underneath the luggage floor and allowing for an improved departure angle.
From outside, the GA and GLX models are distinguished by the GLX’s 15-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles and painted exterior mirrors.
The dashboard is designed in three horizontal layers. The strong horizontal lines act as visual reference of the horizontal plane when driving off road and it cleverly incorporates an assist-grip and cell-phone tray on the middle level and a glovebox on the lower level.
The same horizontal lines flow to the moulded door panels with partly exposed body-coloured metal sections. These panels were designed to be easy to clean, robust and fit into the overall angular style of the new Jimny.
The upholstery is comfortable but hard-wearing, and the moulded dashboard features hard-wearing resin with a mix of a repeating line pattern and, on the lower parts, the same type of grippy texture as on a professional DSLR camera body.
The instrument panel housings have been finished in a brushed metal finish and the door handles have been enlarged for easy operation (or to hang on!) even when wearing work gloves. Similarly, the switches and dials have been designed for easy operation with work gloves and all stalks and dials have been tested for easy, intuitive operation.
The backbone of the new Jimny’s capabilities is the ladder frame chassis. In the new model, Suzuki’s engineers have added a patented cross member, the Suzuki X-member, between the two rigid axles.
The X-member consists of two diagonal cross members that further strengthen the chassis. This helps to limit body flex in serious cross-axle off-road driving and also creates a very sturdy platform for the fitment of the body and the underbodyparts. As an additional benefit, the additional torsional strength has improved the Jimny’s on-road driving dynamics and overall crash safety.
The X-member is supported by the addition of two extra horizontal cross members. The first is located just behind the front wheels and under the gearbox bell housing and the second links the furthermost two points of the ladder frame under the rear bumper. Interestingly, the cowl member on which the windscreen wipers are mounted is now also made from metal and works with the additional cross members for greater rigidity and body strength.
The rigid axles are connected to the wheels with three links – a lateral rod on each wheel and two leading (on the front) and trailing (on the rear) arms.
Suzuki has strengthened the axle housings by 30% and has added a steering damper to the front suspension to limit steering wheel kickback and vibration on rough terrain.
The new Jimny replaces the push-button selection between 2H (rear-wheel drive), 4H (4WD high gear) and 4L (full low range, 4WD) with a shift lever that is directly connected to the transfer gear and can switch between 2H and 4H on the fly at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
The mechanical four-wheel drive system is greatly enhanced by Suzuki’s Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control systems. The Brake LSD-system adjusts torque to the wheel with grip if another wheel on the same axle starts spinning. The system has an extra-power mode, which kicks in below 30 km/h in low-range mode for the best possible traction.
Brake LSD is supported by Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control, which are standard on all models.
The new Jimny improves on its predecessor’s off-road angles by offering an approach angle of 37 degrees (35 degrees on the previous model), a departure angle of 49 degrees (46 degrees on the predecessor) and a breakover angle of 28 degrees (previously 27 degrees). The Jimny has a ground clearance of 210 mm, which is 20 mm more than the previous model.
For the all-new Jimny, Suzuki’s engineers have replaced the M13A 1,3-litre engine with a new 1,5-litre K15B petrol engine.
The new engine has a higher compression ratio (10.0:1) and greater thermal efficiency to deliver more power, while using less fuel. The new engine is rated at 75 kW at 6 000 r/min and 130 Nm at 4 000 r/min.
Fuel consumption on a combined cycle has been tested at 6,3 l/100 km for the manual models and 6,8 for the automatic model.
Buyers will have a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. Both gearboxes’ gear ratios have been optimised for the new, more powerful 1,5-litre engine.
All versions of the Suzuki Jimny have air-conditioning, power steering and the complete ALLGRIP PRO 4×4 system with Brake LSD, ESP, Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control. The GLX models get a host of additional features, including climate control, power windows and mirrors, Auto LED projector headlamps, remote central locking and cruise control.
The GLX models are also fitted with Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA). This double-DIN audio system has a 7-inch infrared-touch screen with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and MirrorLink integration. The system has a USB connector, SD-card slot and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and the most important features can be controlled by buttons on the leather-covered steering wheel.
The front occupants have 30 mm more legroom, the steering wheel can now be vertically adjusted for even more space and the rear passengers have 40 mm more legroom and a higher hip point for greater comfort on long journeys.
On the active safety side, all Jimny models are fitted with anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assistance (BAS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to prevent wheel slip on all wheels and to help the Jimny track true on slippery surfaces and at high speed.
All Jimny models also have ISOFIX child seat anchors, a high mounted brake light and an emergency pedal release system.
The GLX model is standard with a 4 year / 60 000 km service plan and the GA model with a 2 year / 30 000 km service plan. All models are sold with a 5 year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty.