My thoughts quite often turn to one vehicle which impressed- the little Suzuki Jimny. Mind you, a lot of thoughts go through my mind; they say that on average you have some 60,000 thoughts per day!
Half a century ago, Suzuki laid plans to develop a mini car with 4WD. This resulted in the birth of the LJ10 in 1970 and it was to prove to be the foundation for the Jimny and hence we now, have the fourth generation model. For many, just like the Mini and the Beetle, the Jimny has become a motoring icon and when I attended a Paris Motor Show, the little Japanese 4WD was attracting a good deal of attention perched high on a stand in close company with supercars costing ten and twenty times more.
Over the years it has built up a strong following; the new model has proved more popular and dare I say- trendy. Global demand is high and already those who want to get behind the wheel of a Jimny may have, as they say, missed the boat and currently it is not available in the Republic of Ireland market, which seems a shame. However with the time clock running out on Jimny, I have no doubt that throughout this island there will be a demand for pre-owned models. However there is good news Suzuki has introduced a Light Commercial version, a two seater, an authentic off roader with practical luggage space and a number of advanced safety features. Returning to the Passenger version, Two grades, SZ4 and SZ5, it is the most technical to date and it is powered by a new 1.5 litre four cylinder petrol engine delivering 101PS and its lightweight construction plays a part in providing better fuel economy. When it comes to transmissions, a choice of two, a four speed automatic complete with paddles behind the steering wheel or a five speed manual. The new model is higher, wider but shorter than the previous model; the body frame rigidity is now 1.5 times higher and results in better on road and off road performance. The company’s 4WD system ALLGRIP PRO is standard fitment and it enables the little Jimny to tackle the toughest of terrain, as I discovered over a challenging off road course, which I am quite sure most owners would not dare to tackle. The exercise did display just how good this Suzuki is when the going gets tough, though. Dual Sensor Brake Support, Hill Descent Control, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and the range topping SZ5 has in addition, LED lights.
My drive time on the vehicle launch was with the SZ5. Checking standard equipment and the Jimny does not disappoint. The SZ4 has air con, cruise control, CD player/radio, Bluetooth connectivity and front fog lamps. Move up the ladder to the top grade and it adds, 15 inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, climate control, sat nav with Smartphone link and for added comfort on these chilly days, heated front seats. There are three key elements to the newcomer, a practical exterior, a functional interior and uncompromising performance. Exterior styling is box-like in a manner refreshing from other vehicles that we encounter everyday, wheaeas the interior in a way is humble but extremely practical with the design of the controls providing ease of operation. The big surprise for those who have never known or owned this Suzuki model comes with performance as it remains true to its character with four key elements, ladder frame chassis, three angles- approach, ramp break over and departure angles, three link rigid axle coil sprung suspension and not to forget, four wheel drive with low range transfer gear. There is no doubt it has a double personality, the rough and tumble side as no terrain is a challenge and then the street scene- this little number, in my book, has a giant helping of street cred.
Living with this new Suzuki, I’ve already noted it’s off road capability and while on road and over smooth surfaces the ride is acceptable, over uneven surfaces due to its short wheelbase it is bumpy but not irritating. Returning to performance, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 10.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 196kph (122mph) and regards economy, 6.1L/100km (46.3mpg) on the combined cycle. Living as we do in an age of fashion, colour for many is paramount and Suzuki offers a choice of six including the eye catching Kinetic Yellow which is ideally suited to the personality of their baby 4WD. My test vehicle had a single option, a paint finish, Ice Greyish Blue with Black roof. Alas, there are no more Passenger versions replaced with the Light Commercial version to carry the name.