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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Optimal straight-line performance on dry Tarmac isn’t going to be of huge concern for Jimny owners more interested in their car’s ability to trundle down farm tracks or haul itself up rock-covered slopes effectively, but it ought to be good enough not to be a barrier to everyday use of the car: and, over shortish-range trips at least, so it proves.

The car’s 95lb ft peak torque isn’t a great deal for any genuine off-roader to depend on, and isn’t particularly accessible either, needing 4000rpm to chime in. A fair amount of welly is therefore required to get off the line in what feels like a smooth and remotely urgent fashion. That said, once you’ve properly acquainted yourself with the car, the Jimny isn’t that taxing to drive around town, although the bagginess of the five-speed manual gearbox’s shift action is a bugbear.

Old-fashioned 4WD system needs manually ‘shifting’ between front-drive, four-wheel drive and four-wheel drive ‘low range’ modes. Simplicity suits the Jimny

The Jimny managed to record a two-way average 0-60mph time of 11.9sec, which is respectable enough. It accelerated from 30mph to 70mph through the gears – as you might when joining a motorway – in 11.6sec, a second quicker than the entry-level petrol Dacia Duster we road tested earlier this year. The potency of the car’s engine certainly feels a touch limited on the road, and that motor is strained at high revs and on the motorway (not least as a result of the car’s short gearing).

But the rest of the time, the Jimny doesn’t seem to have to struggle too hard to get out of its own way. The previous Jimny’s 1.3-litre four-pot was hardly a beacon of refinement, and it seems Suzuki has done little to improve things with the latest model’s new 1.5-litre engine.

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At a steady 70mph cruise, our sound gear measured noise in the cabin at a fairly persistent 70dB, while a wide-open throttle at the top of third gear saw this rise to 75dB. Admittedly, this is better than the old diesel-powered Land Rover Defender managed (73dB and 78dB respectively), yet as with that now discontinued conceptual rival, you’d likely still hesitate at the idea of using the Jimny regularly as a long-distance tourer.

Given the Jimny’s modest kerb weight – we measured it at 1112kg – the car’s shortage of stopping power came as a bit of a surprise. It needed 73.1m to come to a halt from 70mph, which is the sort of result you rarely see even from an off-roader on hybrid off-road tyres, and even allowing for the dampness of the surface on our test day. The car pitched unusually severely under hard braking, and its Bridgestone tyres seemed to skate over the surface of the road.

The need for the Jimny’s engine to spin away at a relatively fierce rate of knots at motorway cruising speeds also made for a fairly ordinary touring fuel economy figure for such a light modern car: a sustained 70mph run extracted an indicated 35.4mpg reading from the Suzuki’s trip computer.

In both respects, however, this car wasn’t ever likely to record results competitive with those of rivals engineered to serve, at worst, in a muddy car park; and the ones it did post shouldn’t discourage a prospective owner in need of its dual-purpose remit.