Suzuki Jimny - The prince of off-road
There are few car companies that stick to their initial mantra, and the Suzuki Jimny is one of them. It is something that I love about the company in the same way that I like the fact that Porsche and Mini stick to their fundamental designs.
These Jimnys have been populating Jamaican roads for decades and were made popular in the ‘90s, as they were used by many corporations, including the Jamaica Public Service. In many instances, they were driven hard and fast, however, their biggest advantage was the fact that they could go into a lot of untapped rural areas. These roads were rocky and narrow, nevertheless the Jimnys were up for the challenge and often outperformed more established four-wheel-drive vehicles. Back then people knew them as the Samurai, and they came in many different versions, including a soft-top model.
Now in its fourth generation, the Jimny still keeps its fundamental designs and dimensions as it remains a two-door vehicle with a ladder-frame chassis.
While the silhouette remains the same, the outside takes some design cues from the Mercedes G, Hummer, and Jeep Wrangler. Much like these vehicles, the windshield is almost at a 90° angle to the bonnet, and it has prominent circular headlights.
But if you think it is a copycat, think again. This vehicle can do just as much or even more off-roading as the ones mentioned above.
What’s on the inside
On the outside, the vehicle looks small, however, when you get to the inside, it feels much bigger. It has a high roof line, which is great for persons who are tall. And there is a very thin centre console, which makes the interior broader than it appears as two adults can be in the front without it feeling crammed.
Hard, rubber surfaces are used throughout the interior to evoke a sense of ruggedness as well as functionality if the vehicle has to go into water. To help create extra room, the padding on the doors is minimal and the window controls are on the centre console, which is definitely reminiscent of the Jeep Wrangler. There are four switches in a designated row that control the windows, traction, and the hill descent. With this being done, I was kind of expecting the doors to be easily removed to give the vehicle a more engaging experience when off-road. Unlike the other switches, the speakers are in the doors, and at the upper section of the door, there is a slight protrusion to allow the driver’s elbow to rest.
Helping to create a more comfortable ride are padded fabric seats. The only addition I would make is to put larger bolsters to hug the driver more when offroad, however, this might be a pet peeve on my end.
There is great all-round visibility as the pillars do not obscure your vision from the front or the back. The rear seats are also impressive for their size and to fold them down is a simple process of pulling a designated loop. Once they are faced down, the back of the seats are made from a hard rubber, which means that they can manage water spills as well as rugged objects being placed on them.There is also an adjustable headrest, and to my surprise, the seats can be reclined slightly. This was a shocker as there are many SUVs that still don’t have this function.
The back door is aided by a hydraulic system, which ensures that it opens very easily. With the two back seats up, there is still a little space for storage, and it can easily hold two backpacks. This shows that the engineers were being very thoughtful when constructing the Jimny as they tried to make it superfunctional.
Given its off-road capability, driving it around town would not do it any justice. For this reason, I chose to take it up to Holywell, using the parochial road that starts in St Andrew. This is a path that only legitimate four-wheel-drive vehicles can take. Equipped with a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated engine, the Jimny is a fully functional four-wheel- drive vehicle, equipped with a differential on the front and back axles. There is also a designated gear to control this, which allows the driver to shift to four-wheel high and low.
The most fun thing about driving it over the various rocks and trenches is the fact that the vehicle has a 37 degree approach angle and forty nine degree departure angle. This also allowed me to climb over many different objects without scraping the bumper. This was also made possible by the ground clearance of 8.07 inches or 20.5 cm.
The square side mirrors also provide adequate coverage of the vehicle, which comes in handy when reversing.
The coil-spring suspension at the front and back is very comforting ,which is a welcomed improvement from previous models. However, there will be some uneasiness because of the short wheelbase. The turning radius of 32.2 feet ,or 9.8 metres, was also equally impressive as there are huge wheel wells, which allows the tires to turn to their maximum angle.
Price of tested model: $4 million
Engine: 1.5 litre
Horse power: 101HP @ 6000rpm
Torque: 95 lb-ft @ 4000rpm
Transmission: 4WD, four-speed automatic.
Fuel tank: 40 litre/10.6 gallons
Body Type: SUV
Curb Weight : 2,348lbs /1,065 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Weight : 2,866lbs/1,300kg
Available at: Stewart’s Auto Sales Ltd, 49-53 South Camp Road. Tel (876) 968-0930,
(876) 968-0931, www.suzukijamaica.com