Why we ran it: To see whether the modern-day Jimny is as worthy as its iconic predecessor
Life with a Suzuki Jimny: Month 6
Our time with it is up. So is it a characterful 4x4 that excels in town and off road or just flawed, cramped and too old-school? - 3 June 2020
Ah, the Jimny. What a refreshing, brilliant yet flawed little car. It has probably been the easiest long-termer to write about in my car hack career – because it’s so characterful and quirky compared with most cars – and probably the one I’d most like to have kept (although it would be great to have the Bentley Continental GT alongside it, too…), despite its flaws.
I was apprehensive when the car first turned up, mostly because I hadn’t driven the latest version and had experienced extreme reactions from colleagues, varying from ‘Oh, that’s so cool!’ to ‘Ah. Unlucky’.
The short journey home from the office didn’t leave me enthralled. The steering feel and direction was hilariously bad, changing gears felt glitchy and the uprightness and ample glass left me feeling vulnerable in terms of safety. And then there was the unrefined four-cylinder naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol engine.
Objectively, most car buyers want a well-rounded motor and most firms do their very best to cater to this, of course with variance depending on family, lifestyle etc. But the Jimny isn’t an all-rounder, which is why it could never be compared to other compact SUVs of today if it were to be a box-ticking exercise, which it so often is. The charm of the Jimny – and, I admit, it takes a while to grow – is exactly because it is contrary to the principles of many modern-day car creations.
Take the interior, for example. Most off-roaders also try to have a quality, even luxury, interior. The Jimny stays true to its roots by being sturdy and solid but definitely not premium. You’re never going to feel cosseted in it, but the more you drive it, the more you realise the interior is pretty fail-safe. The seats are comfortable and can be heated (a boon for the winter months) and the infotainment system is simple but user-friendly especially with Apple CarPlay in action.
It’s a four-seater, and although I did fit my partner and parents in it for a drive to the pub for Sunday lunch, it’s not to be advised for anything above 15-minute journeys. Editorial director Jim Holder braved a longer drive with his family and found his 12-year-old complaining of sickness after an hour, which isn’t surprising given the lax body control.
But then it’s not a family car. The majority of owners, says Suzuki and the many readers who have been in touch to praise their respective Jimnys, use only the front two seats. The rear two normally lie flat to create more boot space. There are quite a few previous-generation Jimnys around my neck of the woods and, based on my nosy peering, it certainly seems a rite of passage to house various detritus in the back – much of which appears to have been there for many years.