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'Why the new Jimny rocks – literally' - Suzuki's next-gen 4x4 for Mzansi

2018-08-31 12:19

Lance Branquinho

Image: Newspress

Despite bigger engines, larger wheels and fatter tyres being desirable in the world of serious off-road adventuring, true 4x4 enthusiasts have always known that bigger is not necessarily better.

If you are small and smart, you can follow Land Cruisers and Land Rover Defenders wherever they venture. And sometimes, even beyond – where they can’t go.

Renowned off-roader

The Lionel Messi of serious 4x4 adventuring is, of course, Suzuki’s legendary Jimny and at this weekend’s South African Festival of Motoring, Gauteng enthusiasts will get their first look at the fourth-generation version of this renowned off-roader.

GALLERY: 2018 Suzuki Jimny

After nearly 20 years of waiting, there is finally a redesigned Jimny and Suzuki has not disappointed its faithful mini-4x4 customers.

Suzuki unveils its new 4x4 'Giant Killer': Here's how much the next-gen Jimny will cost in SA

A burden of expectation can prove overwhelming when reshaping a vehicle which has acquired legendary status and Suzuki’s done a stellar job of improving Jimny’s weaknesses whilst retaining all its most favoured characteristics.

Why does everyone love the Jimny? This is a vehicle which never strikes indifference from anyone, even fans of rival brands. Well, there is a fundamental sincerity about it.

The styling might always have been perceived as cute, due to its shrunken Japanese Kei-car dimensions but underneath it’s a comprehensively capable design, engineered for severe off-road trails: low-range, solid-axles and a ladder frame.


Indicative pricing released by Suzuki SA: Includes a service plan and mechanical warranty
 
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GA Manual: R265  000 (estimated)
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Manual: R300  000 (estimated)
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Auto: R320  000 (estimated) 

The all-new Jimny will be available to customers from November 1 but interested buyers can view pre-production versions of the new model at the Johannesburg Festival of Motoring at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit from August 31 to September 2 2018.  

2018 Suzuki Jimny

                                                                      Image: Motorpress

The new Jimny has managed to transform the vehicle’s greatest weakness (its cramped and uncomfortable cabin), without losing any sense of that delightful exterior.

Charmingly distinctive

The boxy styling has been skilfully evolved and in a world of fluid SUV shapes and overly rounded corners, Jimny is charmingly distinctive with its squared-off design and bunched proportions.

It’s a bit bigger now, 45mm longer and 50mm taller, and although the Jimny remains incredibly easy to drive in a trafficked urban environment, the cabin ergonomics and space utilisation have improved remarkably.

2018 Suzuki Jimny

                                                                       Image: Motorpress

The new Jimny might feature a more comfortable cabin, with contemporary Suzuki switchgear and digestion (mostly lifted from the Ignis), but the improved mechanics might be its most impressive attribute.

Suzuki’s re-engineered the platform to make it 50% more rigid, which means no more nauseating body-roll when cornering and off-road it’s even better than before.

Bigger and better

You can finally drive Jimny long-distance without arriving at your destination in the dark too, thanks to the new 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine, which replaces Jimny’s tried but rather tired 1.3-litre unit.

Rated for 75kW and 130Nm it might not have impressive numbers on an output graph, but this 1.5-litre powerplant makes the new version a superior highway cruiser than any previous Jimny. Amazingly, despite having 200cc greater displacement, the new engine is lighter and more fuel-efficient than the previous 1.3-litre.

2018 Suzuki Jimny

                                                                       Image: Motorpress

In truly challenging off-road conditions the new Jimny has no real rival. Its compact dimensions mean that Jimny can attack and roll-up-and-over obstacles with line-choices that simply aren’t possible in larger Land Cruisers or Defenders.

Although Jimny’s method for off-road excellence is quite simple (solid-axles and a short wheelbase), some algorithmic technology has been added too, with a feature called ‘brake LSD traction control’.

                                                                  Image: Newspress

Suzuki has calibrated the ABS-system to allow wheel-speed interventions when Jimny lifts one or more wheels, whilst crawling over a cross-axle obstacle.

This pseudo-limited-slip differential action is essentially a simplified version of off-road torque-vectoring, a popular traction technology in most SUVs. Applied to new Jimny, it should make the mini-4x4 a lot smoother to drive off-road, if you keep constant throttle modulation through obstacles.

Roomier. More balanced through corners. Notable swifter (no pun intended) at highways speeds. And crucially: even better off-road. All those attributes in a package which makes every other road user swoon with its Pokémon adventure wagon styling. Worth waiting nearly 20 years for? Definitely. 

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