Suzuki Jimny SUV (1998 - 2013) review
Read the Suzuki Jimny 4x4 (1998 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The chunky looks and elevated stance of the Suzuki Jimny mark it out as a 4×4, but when it comes to compact sports utility vehicles (SUVs), none are smaller than the Jimny. As a result, it looks quite comical at first – almost like a scale model of a 4×4.
You could be forgiven for assuming that the Jimny’s interior would be horribly outdated, but it’s not at all bad. The seats are comfortable enough, if not especially supportive. Visibility is good and everything is within easy reach. There’s no height adjustment for the driver’s seat and no adjustment at all for the steering wheel. Despite this, getting comfortable behind the wheel isn’t difficult, even if the seating position is rather upright.
A car this small will never be able to offer a significant amount of practicality, and as long as you don’t go in with great expectations you won’t be disappointed. Rear seat space is cramped and there’s hardly anything in the way of boot space – just 113 litres in fact, with the rear seats in place. That’s just half what the Ford Ka can muster for example, and even with the Jimny’s seats folded forward the luggage capacity only increases to 286 litres. Tip the Ka’s seats down and even this city car can accommodate 747 litres.
Ride and handling
This is something of a disaster zone for the Jimny, because it’s hopelessly outclassed on the road. There’s not much in the way of grip and the top-heavy design means there’s far too much body roll in the bends. It’s not as though the ride comfort compensates, as the short wheelbase means there’s a lot of pitching over bumps, so if you suffer from car sickness you won’t want to venture too far in a Jimny. On the flip-side, the Jimny’s suspension works very well off-road.
There’s just one engine available: A 1.3-litre petrol unit that develops 84bhp along with 81lb/ft of pulling power, you have to really use the revs to make decent progress on the road. The Jimny’s top speed is just 87mph while the 0-62mph time is officially 14.1 seconds. Making progress can be painfully slow at times and while the engine performs willingly off-road and around town, if you need to cover a lot of miles on faster roads, the chances are you won’t enjoy it very much.
The Jimny averages just 39.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 171g/km. It’s a relatively simple machine, so maintenance and repairs should prove much cheaper than with bigger SUVs.
The Jimny’s simplicity helps it score well here – as well as the fact that Suzukis are well-engineered, so they tend to present few problems. The Jimny has steadily improved over the years and given it was launched in 1998 any real problems have had more than enough time to arise.
There’s no EuroNCAP rating as the car hasn’t been crash tested, while the safety kit fitted is little more than the minimum allowed by law. As such, there are front airbags for those in the front seats and anti-lock brakes, but that’s pretty much it.
Suzuki keeps things simple with the Jimny range, as there’s a choice of just two trim levels – SZ3 and SZ4. Neither comes with a huge amount of standard equipment, but considering the car’s price point, it’s no worse than you might expect. The SZ3 comes with electric windows, remote central locking, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors plus a CD/tuner.
If you’re on a tight budget and you need a car that can cope with rough conditions, the Jimny may be the car for the job.