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 haven’t been announced, but economy of around 35 mpg is expected on the combined cycle.
The engine is mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox, followed by a divorced transfer case with 2H, 4H and 4L modes, the latter with a 2:1 reduction.
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.
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, laser-based forward collision alert, lane departure warning, weaving alert and – a first for Suzuki – traffic sign recognition.
The new Suzuki Jimny is expected to go on sale in the UK in late 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 go further with LED headlights, climate control, sat nav with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, heated front seats and alloy wheels.
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 says they’ve already taken more than 3,000 online expressions of interest, three times the out-going model’s annual sales.