Suzuki Jimny: A Far Better Vehicle Than It Has a Right to Be
Motoring journalists all around the world have been impressed by the new Suzuki Jimny since its release. And after a weekend using the Jimny as a camera car at the Tararua Winch Challenge, we agree.
Sure it gets knocked for its lack of highway sophistication, but that’s almost exclusively from car experts, who really have no appreciation for the Jimny’s off-highway “raison d’etre”, and so don’t venture any further than the local café to try it out.
Suzuki NZ made a pretty good effort to get local journos off-road during the Jimny’s launch, and have been rewarded with some great reviews here, while overseas the little truck has been rewarded with more than one ‘Our People’s Choice’ trophies.
During our weekend covering the Rallywoods Winch Challenge, I put the Jimny to work in some pretty challenging situations.
Not only did it just get on with the day to day access track hazards, but there were also a couple of times where I had to get right off the road to keep the access clear for the comp trucks. Just when I was starting to think I would be looking for a bit of recovery help, the Suzuki Jimny just drove out. Made me look pretty good, I must say!
Three pedals, two levers, solid axles front and rear, four coils, three-link suspension front and rear, proper chassis, damn near no overhang, what more could you ask for?
Well, maybe a little less cuteness? Although some of the accessory kits coming onto the market give it a more purposeful look.
Part of the appeal for both off-road and city buyers are the compact dimensions of the Jimny. Although the high profile body produces more space than a two-door subcompact, with four people on board, there is not much room left.
But those four will be surprisingly comfortable, front-seat legroom is pretty good, I had no problem getting my 6ft 5in behind the wheel, and the rear seats are remarkably spacious for a couple of bodies back there.
It’s in luggage space the Jimny suffers. Two up, and back seats folded flat, there is no problem. Camping, or shopping, no worries, but fill up all its seats and there is very little room for anything else. Suzuki has been very clever with using what space there is, but there is just not much space.
However, all I had to carry was a camera bag for most of my time, so no worries. What I also had to do was to get to where the action was, through the notorious Rallywoods network of tracks, rough tracks, and even rougher tracks.
Crawling up rocky steps, plowing through mud churned up by the passing comp trucks and their support vehicles, diving into roadside clearings for photo ops (and getting out again) was all part of the job.
The Jimny did it all without fuss. It rode the terrain like a much bigger vehicle but went places they wouldn’t fit. It scrambled up, through and over berms, banks and water holes all day. I was having fun, and you know what, I reckon the Zuke was too.
It was bright, shiny, polished yellow when I picked it up, it sure as hell wasn’t when I gave it back. Normally I would feel a bit guilty about this, but not this time! I claim it was as much the truck’s fault as mine, it was having as good a time as I was.
This is one I really didn’t want to give back.