Revitalised utilitarian icons must be a bit like buses; only, rather than waiting minutes for one before several arrive in a rash, the gap is decades long.
Already this year Mercedes has launched a painstaking new interpretation of the G-Class for the modern era. Meanwhile, prototypes for an all-new Land Rover Defender have also been seen roaming the Midlands. Jeep, too, has given the first freshened Wrangler for a fair old while, and then there is this: the tiny Jimny, which Suzuki hasn’t really touched for two decades.
You might well wonder why it would. Built to adhere to pocket-size Japanese kei-car regulations, the formula Suzuki concocted for the original ‘Light Jeep 10’ of 1970 was simple but effective. That’s why this fourth-generation car remains usefully small, authentically gifted off-road and enviably inexpensive.
With such a small footprint, it’s a veritable hard-hat on wheels, and you’d expect it to contribute powerfully to global Jimny sales already approaching three million. Especially given the warm reception for an unashamedly retro exterior design, which impertinently echoes that of the far more exclusive G-Class.
But, ultimately, the job of the Jimny is more than that of a kitsch fashion accessory. These are working cars – tools that go almost anywhere and often change the lives of their owners for the better. It’s why, on a recent road-testing excursion to rural Wales – farming country – the little Suzuki attracted far more honest attention from locals than the 911 GT3 parked adjacent.
It’s also why Suzuki is concerned its Kosai production lines cannot meet demand, such has been the level of interest since its launch at the Paris motor show.
What, then, can those excited prospective customers expect? Let’s find out.