After an incredible 20 years in production, it’s time for a new Suzuki Jimny.

The out-going model was introduced in 1998, but the Jimny has a heritage that stretches as far back as 1970.

Today, it continues the tradition Suzuki set out for it all those years ago – that of a small, lightweight 4WD vehicle – and is one of only three vehicles in the world (Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes G-Wagon) that still use solid axles for optimum off-road performance.

Although in its native Japan the Jimny is offered in two variants, here in Europe we will only be offered the wider model with extended wheel-arches and the 1.5-litre K15B engine.

This long-stroke petrol engine develops 100hp and 130Nm of torque, enough for a 90mph top speed.

Acceleration figures aren’t quoted, which probably tells you all you need to know about that, but WLTP-certified economy on the combined cycle is 35.8 mpg for the manual, 32.2 mpg for the auto.

As standard, the transmission is a five-speed manual with an optional four-speed automatic, followed by a divorced transfer case with 2H, 4H and 4L modes, the latter with a 2:1 reduction.  4H can be engaged at speeds of up to 62 mph.

The 4WD system – dubbed AllGrip Pro – backs up the mechanical advantage of a part-time system with a brake-based limited slip function, plus hill descent control and a hill holder.

The Jimny has the off-road performance to put this to good use, too, with a 37 degree approach angle, 28 degree ramp-over, 49 degree departure angle and 210mm of ground clearance.

Axle articulation should be respectable, with a long-arm 3-link set-up hanging from a rigid ladder-frame chassis.

For the load luggers out there, the max towing weight for a braked trailer is 1,300 kg.

Outside, careful consideration has been given to practical design elements, such as the full-length drip rail to stop water running off the roof as you get in or out (something the Wrangler has never managed to solve) plus LED headlights with washer jets, a dipped window line to aid visibility, and lights mounted in the rear bumper to allow a wider-opening tailgate.

Speaking of which, the sideways opening tailgate (which opens to the right, making it perfect for RHD markets) opens to reveal a larger boot than the old model (up by 53 litres to 377) with seats that fold completely flat into the floor.

Elsewhere in the interior, there are plenty of storage spaces for phones and other goodies, instruments are clear and simple, and switchgear has been designed to be operated easily while wearing gloves.

However, despite it’s no-nonsense character, the new Jimny still has plenty of technology.  Suzuki’s infotainment system offers satnav with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, there’s high beam assist, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, weaving alert and – a first for Suzuki – traffic sign recognition.

Although these systems performed well during the Jimny’s Euro NCAP testing, the marginal rating of the head restraints (a pre-requisite for AEB points) meant they didn’t count towards the Jimny’s overall score of three stars.

The new Suzuki Jimny is expected to go on sale in the UK in early January 2019 in two trim levels.

Despite the black-painted steel wheels, SZ4 models are still well equipped with air con, cruise control, automatic headlights with high-beam assist, and lane departure warning.

SZ5 models add alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles, LED headlights with washers, heated door mirrors, heated seats, rear privacy glass, black leather steering wheel, climate control, and sat nav with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

Six exterior colours will be available from launch, starting with Superior White, Silky Silver Metallic and Blueish Black Pearl Metallic for the SZ4.

Top-spec SZ5 models also feature the option of a Blueish Black Pearl roof with a choice of either Kinetic Yellow, Chiffon Ivory Pearl Metallic or Brisk Blue Metallic for the body.

Prices are due to be announced in November, although they’re expected to be higher than the out-going model which kicked-off around the £13,000 mark.

Suzuki say they’ve already taken more than 12,000 online expressions of interest, ten times the out-going model’s annual sales.

Update: Prices for the Jimny start at £15,499 for the SZ4, and £17,999 for the SZ5.  An auto for the SZ5 adds a further £1,000. Metallic paint is a £485 cost option, or £650 for the SZ5’s two-tone.

New Suzuki Jimny Tech Specs

Model1.5 petrol Manual1.5 petrol Automatic
Available GradesSZ4, SZ5SZ5
Number of cylinders4
Number of valves16
Piston displacementcm31462
Maximum outputPS (kW) / rpm101 (75) / 6,000
Maximum torqueNm (lbft) / rpm130 (95) / 4,000
Fuel distributionMultipoint injection
EU emission standardEuro 6
Type5-speed manual4-speed automatic
Gear ratio1st4.4252.875
Final gear ratio4.0904.300
Transfer gear ratioHigh1.0001.320
Weights & Dimensions
Overall length to rear bumpermm3,480
Overall length to spare wheel covermm3,645
Overall widthmm1,645
Overall heightmm1,725
Minimum turning circlem9.8
Ground clearancemm210
Approach angledegrees37
Ramp breakover angledegrees28
Departure angledegrees49
Seating capacitypersons4
Luggage capacity (maximum volume)litres830
Luggage capacity (seatback folded, VDA)litres377
Luggage capacity (seatback raised, VDA)litres85
Kerb weight inc full optionskg1,135
Gross vehicle weightkg1,435
Max towing weight (braked)kg1,300
Max towing weight (un-braked)kg350
Trailer nose weightkg75
Performance & Economy
Maximum speedmph / km/h90 / 14587 / 140
Fuel tank capacitylitres4040
CO2 emissions (NEDC)g/km154170
Fuel consumption (NEDC)Urbanmpg (l/100km)36.6 (7.7)33.6 (8.4)
Extra-Urbanmpg (l/100km)45.6 (6.2)40.9 (6.9)
Combinedmpg (l/100km)41.5 (6.8)37.7 (7.5)
CO2 emissions (WLTP)g/km178198
Fuel consumption (WLTP)Lowmpg (l/100km)34.3 (8.2)28.8 (9.8)
Mediummpg (l/100km)42.0 (6.7)37.1 (7.6)
Highmpg (l/100km)40.8 (6.9)36.8 (7.7)
Extra Highmpg (l/100km)30.5 (9.3)28.3 (10.0)
Combinedmpg (l/100km)35.8 (7.9)32.2 (8.8)