Suzuki Jimny 2019 Review
Isaac Bober’s Suzuki Jimny 2019 Review with Price, Specs, Practicality, Performance, Ride and Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: Quirky little off-roader is as small as ever, looks great and gets improved safety and features…did we mention it’s very, very small.
Suzuki Jimny 2019 Specifications
Price $23,990+ORC (manual), $25,490 (auto) Warranty three-years, 100,000 kilometres Safety 3-star ANCAP rating Engines 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 75kW at 6000rpm Torque 130Nm at 4000rpm Transmission five-speed manual Drive part-time 4WD with low range Dimensions 3645mm long (inc spare), 3480mm (exc spare) 1645mm high; 1720mm wide (mirrors included); 2250mm wheelbase Turning Circle 9.8m Ground Clearance 210mm claimed; 200mm (measured to bottom off diff pumpkin but control arms are lower at a measured 190mm) Angles 37-degrees approach, 28-degrees rampover, 49 degrees departure Wading depth 300mm Max braked towing 1300kg Max towball mass 75kg Fuel Tank 40 litres Thirst 6.4L/100km (manual); 7.2L/100km tested
The Suzuki Jimny can trace its heritage back more than 40 years. Across four generations it’s been true to its brief and that is to be light and capable when the going gets rough.
And that’s still the case with this new model, it’s been thoroughly revised with a stronger ladder frame and the coil springs are beefier than on the old model. And the 1.3-litre four-cylinder has been ditched for a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
The Jimny remains a part-time 4WD but there’s now brake traction control (some outlets are incorrectly referring to this as a limited-slip differential) and we’ll get to its capability in the rough shortly…
The retro looks of the Jimny have turned heads all over the world but nothing can prepare you for when you see it in the metal. It really does look cool. But it’s also incredibly small. Indeed, approach it from across the street and it almost looks as if you’re walking towards a toy car.
What’s the price and what do you get? There’s only one trim available for the Jimny and the only choice an owner can make is whether to go for a manual or automatic. The five-speed manual variant is priced from $23,990+ORCs while the four-speed automatic variant lists from $25,490+ORCs.
For that you get a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 75kW and 130Nm of torque, dusk-sensing LED headlights, native sat-nav, as well as Apple Carplay/Android Auto on a 7-inch touchscreen, reversing camera, cruise control with speed limiter and some active safety aids such as autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist. You also get a full-size, door-hung spare but in Australia we miss out on things like heated seats that Jimny offers in Europe.
For the money, it’s reasonably well equipped and there’s no other, brand new car that, for the money, offers either the looks or off-road capability of the Jimny.
What’s the cabin like? Small. Very small. You can almost literally, from the driver’s seat, reach out and touch every single corner of the Jimny. But then, this is nothing new. Dimensionally, the new Jimny is shorter than the old model but slightly wider and a little taller too.
The interior feels very retro but not in a trying-too-hard way. There’s lots of exposed screw and bolt heads and the plastic is hard and strong feeling with a nice texture to it that makes it feel rugged and good quality rather than simply hard and scratchy. The dash design is very square with the 7.0-inch infotainment screen easy to reach and use. The clarity is impressive and the native sat-nav is good and it’s easy to connect your phone and make use of either Apple or Android displays for increased simplicity. The only issue we noticed with the screen was when we shifted into reverse or back into first-gear; the screen would glitch for a moment during the transition.
There’s storage scattered around the cabin but it’s so small that it might as well not even be there. The door pockets won’t hold anything other than some slips of paper, there are cup holders down near the gear shifter and there are a couple of open-topped bins for your phone. But none of the bins are deep and so things will fall out when bumping around off-road.
What are the front seats like? Good. Surprisingly good. Given the size of the Jimny you might reasonably expect to find tiny little seats but they’re a decent size and comfortable too. They could do with some more support for when you’re off-road but the car is so small it’s easy to brace yourself when bumping around. Climbing into the seats is easy too; none of the climbing up into this 4WD; you simply step in but watch the side sill because if it’s muddy you’ll get mud on your pants.
There’s only tilt adjust on the steering wheel which might annoy taller drivers but the driving position, in general, is excellent. You can see the edges of the bonnet which is great for when you’re off-road; in fact, you can see every single corner of the car – there are no blind spots except for rear vision when you’ve got people in the back seats. Fortunately, the reversing camera offers a good wide view.
What are the back seats like? The back seats are 50:50 split fold and there’s enough room, just, for a six-footer like me to sit in them comfortably. That said, legroom isn’t exactly generous but headroom is excellent and there’s good footroom under the front seats which helps a lot. Climbing into the back means you’ve got to slide and lever the front seats out of the way but stepping into the back is easy. That said, my daughter found it easier, and much more fun, to climb into the back seat via the tailgate and across one of the folded-down seats. And for those with kids, you’ll have to fit your childseat via the back of the car.
What’s the boot space like? Well, if you’re using all four seats then it’s almost non-existent but it’s not totally space-less. The gap between the back of the rear seats and the tailgate will take a couple of shopping bags (85 litres), although if you’ve got a child seat then the straps and top tether anchor will wipe out what little boot space there is. Fold down the two back seats, or even just one of them and the back of the Jimny becomes quite usable. And drop down both back seats and you get a handy 377 litres of space. So, for two people the boot’s not too bad.
The tailgate is assisted which makes opening and closing it easy and it means even on a slope once openend it won’t try and close on you like some side-mounted tailgates, unless locked, will.
What are the infotainment and controls like? The infotainment screen dominates the dashboard and while it’s only 7.0-inches it looks huge in the tiny-tot Jimny. The screen is nice and crisp in its display and connectivity is a cinch if you want to run either Apple or Android smartphones. The mapping is basic but effective and while off-road managed to show a selection of side tracks that don’t normally appear on some vehicle sat-nav systems we’ve tested which is great. But what isn’t so great is the touch sensitivity of the screen; you’ve got to give the buttons a good stab or two to get a response and the fact the audio is always on is annoying, meaning when you switch the car on you’ve got to turn off the radio. But, overall, it’s a good system with a shallow menu structure meaning you’re not going to get lost looking for features.
The climate controls are easy to use although I defy anyone driving the thing not to accidentally try and turn the temperature up or down via the temp display roundel. It’s only single zone climate control and there are no vents in the back but the thing is so small anything other than single-zone would be unnecessary.
What’s the storage like? We’ve covered off the boot space and touched on the interior storage but it’s worth noting that it’s limited. The glovebox holds the owner’s manual and that’s about all. You’ll likely get a torch, a multi tool or some gloves in it, there are two cupholders and some small smallow bins for your phone, wallet…being shallow, though, means things can fall out of them when you’re bumping around off-road. And the door bins are only about as wide as a letterbox slot, so, they’ll be good for maps only. If there’s only two of you, by folding down the back seats you’ll get a decent sized boot but with a payload of only 360kg you’ll need to be careful how you pack…and if you’re carrying four people, well, you’ll likely just be limited to just a bottle of water each.
What’s the performance like? Well, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine makes 75kW at 6000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4000rpm and it’ll get to 100km/h from a standstill in around 12 seconds. So, it’s not quick. But it just about gets away with it by being lightweight at 1095kg. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 6.4L/100km (for the manual) but on test we averaged 7.2L/100km with a mix of around town, slow crawling off-road and gravel roads as well as long stints on the highway. Our test car was fitted with a five-speed manual but it feels like it needs a sixth gear for highway cruising at 100km/h (revving at around 3200rpm).
Driving the Jimmy comes down to momentum and maintaining it. It’s not a vehicle that likes you to lift off the throttle and expect it to pick up again with any sort of urgency. Long hills, even with the throttle pinned to the floor in fourth, and trying to maintain 80km/h with just the driver on-board can be a chore let alone trying to do it with any more than just one in the car.
But, that said, this is not a vehicle for schlepping up and down highways or cross continent runs. It’s just way too buzzy and underpowered. But for getting about town or along gravel roads the thing has enough pep if you’re prepared to keep using the gears and maintaining momentum. Fortunately, the gear shift is a slick one and while there’s no feel through the feather-light clutch this is a very easy car to drive.
Although it gets a little trickier when driving off-road and while the Jimny has hill descent control it doesn’t go down slow enough in low-range (5km/h) and that means you can overbrake and stall the thing as none of the pedals have any feel. The throttle is just as dead and trying to inch up and over obstacles saw us constantly stalling when trying to let the thing idle over obstacles. This is an issue that familiarity would eliminate.
What’s the ride and handling like? The Jimny is actually very comfortable for such a small vehicle, and that’s thanks to the soft suspension set up – with this comes lots of body roll through corners, though. The front end is particularly compliant and while the rear end is generally well behaved sharp-edged hits can see it buck. And it’s not fond of mid-corner bumps taken with any sort of enthusiasm which will see it skip, and quick direction changes need to be avoided because of its high centre of gravity… What gets you about the Jimny is how nimble it feels both on- and off-road but as much fun as it is to drive there’s a real lack of connectivity to what the car is doing. All that said, when you’re behind the wheel of the Jimny you forgive it its failings because in manual form, at least, it really is a lot of fun to drive. But that’s largely because this thing feels like its straight out of the 1980s.
What’s it like off road? This is where the Jimny comes into its own. But, while this thing has had so much back-patting it needs to be said, and I’m sorry if this comes across a little doom and gloom, the Jimny’s off-road advantages are also its disadvantages and that it’s not as easy to drive off-road as you might think…there are no clever terrain systems and so how far you get off-road comes down to you and the lines you pick.
Okay, let’s unpack this. The Jimny’s a pretty simple formula, live axles at the front and back and coil springs all-round with power getting to the ground via a part-time 4WD system. So, you’re in 2WD on high-traction surfaces and 4WDH on lower-traction surfaces like gravel and then 4WDL for when the going gets really rough.
The approach and departure angles are impressive at 37-degrees and 49-degrees respectively with a rampover of 28-degrees. Ground clearance isn’t the 210mm claimed; we measured it at around 200mm to the bottom of the diff pumpkin (wading depth is around 300mm). Add to this the lightweight (meaning it doesn’t sink into the ground the same as bigger 4WDs) and pocket-sizing of the Jimny and it becomes capable of covering some seriously rough terrain. But what’s even better is the tight turning circle of less than 10m which allows the Jimny to be turned around in spaces that bigger 4WDs just wouldn’t be able to. But, it’s size and the fact it’s quite top heavy are also a disadvantage with side slopes a real issue to be mindful of.
Moving from 2WD to 4WD can be done on the fly but you’ll need to be virtually stopped to engage low-range which is doen by pushing the selector lever down and back. Selecting low-range switches off stability control but leaves brake traction control on – more on this shortly.
On our off-road tracks, in situations where bigger 4WDs we’ve tested will rub parts of their body, particularly the nose and the rear, or even side steps, the Jimny had no such issues and there was one short, steep downhill slope we’ve not been able to drive because of overhangs on other 4WDs but the Jimny managed it with ease.
Driven across ruts the Jimny’s suspension flexes nicely with a reasonable amount of wheel travel for such a small vehicle.
Glance through the Jimny press kit and any other review of the thing and there’s mention of ‘Brake LSD’ which some motoring writers have mistaken as something other than what it is…I’ve seen some mention the Jimny as having a rear locker or a limited slip differential. It doesn’t have any of that. Brake LSD is a marketing term for brake traction control and it’s a good thing the Jimny has it. But what is it? It means that if a wheel lifts off the ground the system will ‘brake’ that wheel and stop it from spinning uselessly and apply more torque to the wheel with traction and thus maintain forward momentum.
This is where my time with the Jimny gets interesting. See, the test car I collected had been damaged by the writer who had it before me and while on the outside the damage looked like nothing more than a scuff, it had clearly damaged the wheel sensors and knocked the steering out of alignment. This meant that brake traction control, nine out of 10 times wouldn’t work and in a cross-axle situation the Jimny ended up ‘stuck’ with wheels spinning uselessly. However, when we tested the brake traction control at the Jimny’s local launch earlier this year, Robert said, “The brake traction control is highly effective, maybe not quite Land Rover or Toyota standard, but it comes in early, smoothly, and effectively for the most part, unless really stressed”. So, until we’ve had a chance to test another Jimny, Robert’s assessment from the launch will have to suffice.
In the end, as it is on the road, the Jimny is a lot of fun when the going gets rough and it’s incredibly capable. But, just remember that some of its advantages, short and narrow, are also some of its disadvantages. If you learned to off-road drive, say, a Defender, then the Jimny will feel familiar and you’ll love it, if you learned on something like a Prado, then you’ll need to reprogram your thinking to get the most out of the Jimny.
Does it have a spare? Yes, the Jimny has a full-size spare mounted on the tailgate.
Can you tow with it? Yes, Jimny has a maximum braked towing capacity of 1300kg although the towball download is just 75kg. Ordinarily, we’d run the numbers for towing, but the Jimny isn’t a great towing platform and, so, if you really need to tow something, then you’re probably best off looking at a different 4WD.
What about ownership? All new Suzukis come standard with a three-year, 100,000km warranty which is very ordinary. However, owners who ensure their vehicles are serviced through a Suzuki dealership become eligible for a five-year, 140,000km warranty. Jimny gets capped price servicing of $175-$399 but servicing is ever six months “or earlier if travelled 10,000km” so you’re best off allowing around $476 per annum for servicing.
What about safety features? The Suzuki Jimny only managed a three-star ANCAP and EuroNCAP rating with the safety bodies noting things like improper airbag inflation which allowed for the crash test dummy’s head to contact the steering wheel and excessive deformation of the body in the frontal offset crash test. And while the Jimny has autonomous emergency braking, ANCAP criticised the system saying it has no cyclist detection or night-time functionality.
The Jimny, as mentioned, gets autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane weave alert and lane departure warning, reversing camera without dynamic guidelines and no sensors, six airbags, ISOFIX mounts and top tether anchors.