Old charm, new looks: 2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

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There’s not that many cars that can offer up as much anticipation the new Jimny has created. The last Jimny was on the market for almost two decades. Just let that sink in a little bit. Two decades. By the time it’s long life was over, it was clear it needed modernisation, but by doing so, would it lose its identity?

Retro looks in a modern design

On the face of it, that would be a resounding no, as the new car looks wonderfully retro, borrowing design features from its ancestors, whilst still offering modern features such as LED headlights. In fact, this car has received lots of looks whilst I had it – more so than some of the more exotic stuff I’ve had the good fortune to drive. However, this all counts for diddly squat if it can’t set out do to do what it’s meant to – off-roading.

Some may call the interior a little ‘bland’ but it’s functional, and I doubt many owners will be looking for a lot of frills anyway. The dash may be made of hard plastics, but it’ll be durable, and like the rear, it will easy to wipe down if it happens to get a bit dirty. You get more tech in here, though compared to the last car, such as a  7″ touchscreen, which can be operated when you have gloves on – very handy. The only thing I’d complain about, is the plastic housing around the handbrake, which moves far more easily than I’d want it to.

Building on an already successful platform

Like the old car, the new Jimny is built on a ladder frame chassis, which is not only cheap and easy to make and maintain, it’s robust as well. Torsional rigidity has been improved, though, and the axles have been strengthened to make this little SUV even more mighty.

The new car also maintains Suzuki’s Allgrip Pro system which offers three different ways of driving. You can either have as two wheel drive, four wheel drive, or four wheel drive with a low range gearbox for the really tricky stuff.

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

Following customer feedback, the new model has gone back to the lever system of changing between the modes as opposed to the buttons on the last car. This is a good move from Suzuki as this simply feels more mechanical and assured. I’ve taken the new Jimny off-road a few times now, and it’s nothing short of tremendous, even on the standard road tyres that it leaves the factory on.

Let me give you some nerdy details about the car; the ample approach angle of 37 degrees, ramp breakover angle of 28 degrees and departure angle of 49 degrees allow the Jimny to climb over obstacles and steep hills without scraping its bumpers or underbody. You also get a healthy ground clearance of 210mm, so there’s less chance you’ll bottom out on more jagged, uneven terrain.

New car, new engine

Helping to power this small-but-perfectly formed SUV is a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol, which replaces the 1.3 litre unit used in the last car. It offers more power and torque, plus it’s 15% lighter, despite the larger displacement. The engine offers 101hp with 130Nm of torque, allowing the car to hit a top speed of 90mph. This engine can either be mated to a 5-speed manual, which is what I have here, or you can have a 4-speed automatic instead.

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

The 5-speed manual is pleasant to use – yes the changes are quite long but the changes feel assured, mechanical and satisfying. The pedals are easy to operate, although in my experience the clutch pedal doesn’t give you a lot of feedback when you reach the biting point, which took a few moments to get used to.

Back to the dirty stuff

Anyway, back to the off-roading. Suzuki has been hard at work in the thinking department when it comes to the design of the new car. The windows have dips in them to give better visibility out the side, which will come in very handy for looking out for potential obstacles. Also helping to give better visibility is the flat clamshell bonnet, and A pillars that have been made more vertical.

I didn’t get the car quite as dirty as I would have wanted.

The instrument cluster is flat at the top, helping to give you a visual aid in regard to what kind of angle you’re travelling at. The roof features guttering, so when you open the door in wet weather, you won’t get covered in water. These little things add up, and really helps to make this car a worthy successor to the last car.

What’s it like on the road?

The last Jimny wasn’t really at home on the road if you ask me. Yes, you could drive it on the road, but a few yards on tarmac made it clear that the car would much prefer to be on something more muddy. The new car is a different story, though, as Suzuki has worked on the suspension to give the new Jimny better road manners, and you know what? It’s worked.

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

Yes, ok, you still have to work with the slow steering rack – necessary for off-road work – which requires more work than your average steering setup, and the body will still want to roll a fair bit in the corners. You’ve also got a ride that’s busy and fidgety, but on the whole, I’d say the new car is better on the road than its predecessor. Thanks to the large windows, the visibility it excellent, which makes it easy to navigate the car on the road and also for parking.

How much does it cost?

There are two trim levels to choose from; SZ4 and SZ5. SZ4 starts from £15,499, offering features such as DAB radio, Bluetooth, air conditioning, daytime running lights, hill hold control, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking. The SZ5, which is what I have here, starts from £17,999, adding features such as 15″ alloy wheels, LED headlights, climate control, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, 7″ touchscreen with navigation and smartphone connectivity.

The car you see here is a bit more though, as it’s finished in Brisk Blue with a Blueish Black Pearl Metallic Roof, which will cost you £650. This car also has a few items from the Suzuki accessories range, including mud flaps, silver trim details, a different front grille and a hard case for the tailgate mounted spare wheel, which come to a total cost of £1,648. That means that this car in particular is a total cost of £20,297.

What about running costs?

So, time to talk about fuel economy. On a combined run, Suzuki states 35.8mpg using the new WLTP method of testing. In my experience I was getting high 30s. In regard to emissions, the Jimny emits 178g/km, meaning for the first year of road tax you’ll be required to pay £855.

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

Aside from filling up with petrol, the Jimny shouldn’t cost too much to run as it’s bound to have the high levels of reliability that Suzuki has set over the years. However, in case something does happen to go wrong, there’s a three year warranty to give buyers that extra piece of mind. Insurance group is yet to be announced, but I very much doubt you’ll have to break the bank to get covered.

And the practical stuff?

The Jimny is of course a small car, so it would be mad to expect loads of space. However, the boot is 53 litres bigger than before, offering 377 litres when you fold down the rear seats, which as you can see, you will need to do to get any kind of proper boot space. There’s a also a compartment here where you can store smaller items, plus there’s a 12v socket.

Better still, all this material is wipe down, so if you have muddy items or dirty dogs, it’ll be easy to clean the car afterwards. Like the old car, the tailgate opens sideways, which may be impractical for some owners, but if you happen to live on a farm or use the car in wide open spaces, this is unlikely to be an issue.

Inside the car, there are a few cubbyholes, although the doorbins aren’t overly big, but at least you get to cupholders in the middle. The glovebox isn’t the biggest you’ll ever see, but it should be large enough to fit a few smaller items in. Getting a good driving position is fairly easy, although it’s worth mentioning that the steering only adjusts for rake, and not reach.

As you would expect in the back, there’s not a great deal of space to be had. As always, the driver’s seat has been set for me, and I’m 6’2″, so I am of course a taller chap. I’ve got plenty of headroom thanks to the car’s boxy design, but the same cannot be said for knee room or legroom. Having said that, I’ve certainly sat in other cars that have offered less space, so it could be worse.

How safe is it?

This is where the Jimny falls down a little bit, as Euro NCAP awarded the new Jimny three stars, which is rather average nowadays. Mind you, it’s better than the new Jeep Wrangler, which was awarded just one star. The Jimny offers standard safety systems such as six airbags, hill hold assist, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, and hill descent control.

Final thoughts

I was super impressed with the new Jimny when I drove it for the first time last year, and my thoughts remain the same. I love how Suzuki has been able to bring the Jimny in the 21st century without losing the car’s soul or the ethos of the original design. Sure, this SUV won’t be for everyone, but if you want to simply swan about to the supermarket or to do the school run, go out and buy a Qashqai.

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

The Jimny on the hand is for those that want a small SUV that can pretty much go anywhere you want it to, whilst offering good value and strong reliability. The only problem I can see with the car is Suzuki simply can’t make them quick enough. If you buy one now, you could be waiting quite some time, but as I said in my first drive video last year, it’s definitely worth the wait.

Car Obsession Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

2019 Suzuki Jimny Review

Pros:

  • A brilliant off-roader
  • Better on-road performance
  • Distinctive looks
  • Good amount of kit
  • Well thought out design

Cons:

  • Fuel economy is average
  • Boot is still small (but it is bigger than before)
  • Rear legroom will be tight for most

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