What is it?
According to social media, the new Suzuki Jimny is just about the most endearing, ebullient, retro, fantastic, old-school and wonderful car to be released in 2018. So many times have phrases or words such as ‘cult-like following’ and ‘charming’ been used by the wider motoring press to describe it, you might be excused for mistaking the Jimny’s arrival for the second coming.
However, while this seemingly non-stop praise might all be a bit exhausting, you can understand where it all comes from; new Jimnys don’t come around all that often (the previous model was on sale continuously for 20 years), and the fact that this one looks the way it does certainly isn’t doing it a disservice.
Anyway, opinions on its image or character aside, we’ve now got the task of finding out how the Jimny - with its ladder-frame chassis, three-link rigid axle suspension and 101bhp naturally aspirated petrol engine - copes with job of dealing with the less-than-stellar British road network. Gulp.
What's it like?
As a road car, it’s really rather poor. Inherently flawed, even. Those looks can only go so far to assuage any ill feelings you’ll inevitably experience about the way the Jimny goes from A to B, and it’s likely not going to be that much further than 10 miles or so.
The low-speed ride is horrendously choppy over lumps and bumps, to the point where it feels as though it wouldn’t settle down even if you found yourself driving on a road that had the smoothness of glass. Add a little pace to the mix, and it calms down a touch, but stray above 60mph and there are times when the Jimny feels as though it’s about to take off completely.
Things don’t get much better through the bends, either. Its tall, slab-sided shape gives way to a considerable amount of roll, while mid-corner directional changes are particularly good at eliciting something of a dynamic tantrum. Weight transfer in this instance isn’t particularly progressive - there are times when it feels like all of the Suzuki’s 1090kg mass is shifting around its lateral axis in a manner that’s not too dissimilar from a ship being tossed about by a stormy sea.
The steering is overly light and not particularly responsive, but to its credit it does provide some idea of what the front tyres are doing beneath you. Which is a good thing, as there’s very little front-end grip on offer here; the Jimny requires only minor provocation before it’ll begin to understeer. You won’t be in any danger of falling off the road, mind – there’s so little performance that you won’t be travelling particularly quickly and the traction control will cut in fairly severely if it thinks you’re being a bit of a wally.