- Cute styling and full of character
- Insane off-road ability
- Well packaged despite tiny size
- Sluggish and unrefined engine
- Rumoured four-door will be more practical
- Good value but $4,500 more then when it launched
In an age where we’re surrounded by high-tech, modern and somewhat expensive lifted hatchbacks – SUVs, in other words – it’s mightily refreshing to see that one manufacturer has managed to make a car that offers a trip down memory lane. The 2021 Suzuki Jimny is exactly what we’re talking about here and there’s no denying it: it’s a cracker of a car.
But it’s not showy, not fake and not pretentious in any way – the Jimny is down to earth, humble and yet remarkably capable both on and off the road. It’s also extremely cute and full of character, so is the 2021 Suzuki Jimny the most fun car you can buy? Read on.
This generation of Jimny was released in 2019 to much hype and even now, there’s a waiting list of more than a year to get one. It’s offered in a single specification in Australia – literally just called ‘Jimny’ – and measuring 3,645mm long, it’s actually 30mm shorter than its predecessor. The current GJ series Jimny replaced the old SN, which was sold for 20 years (as was the SJ that came before it).
Price & Specs: 9/10
When the current generation 2021 Suzuki Jimny was launched in Australia in 2019, the manual was priced from $23,990 plus on-road costs but nowadays – thanks to a bit more standard kit such as electric-folding mirrors, plus the usual COVID tax – it’s $28,490 +ORC or around $32,000 drive away. That’s a huge price increase in such a short time, but it’s nothing compared to what some dealers are asking – thanks to the high demand and short supply of the car, the waiting list is up to a massive 18 months. Sadly, many dealers think they can charge whatever they want to get you into one quicker.
Going off retail pricing, the single-spec Jimny is $28,490 plus on-road costs and for that, you get a reasonable standard equipment list for the money. Automatic LED headlights with halogen daytime running lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with inbuilt navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a two-speaker sound system, a leather steering wheel, electric front windows, cruise control, a trip computer, headlight washers and a full-size alloy spare wheel are standard. Of course, off-road aids such as hill descent control and hill hold assist are standard too.
Safety kit is reasonable too with six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, auto high beam, lane departure warning and a reversing camera, though kit such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control are unavailable.
In terms of paint, white is the only no-cost option – ‘Brisk Blue’, ‘Chiffon Ivory’, ‘Jungle Green’, ‘Medium Grey’ and ‘Kinetic Yellow’ cost $500 more. A black roof is available for the blue, beige and lighter green options for $1,250 (including the cost of selecting the colour). Black cloth is the only interior option.
It must be said, however, that features such as a digital speedometer, keyless entry and start and automatic, no, even intermittent wipers are unavailable currently on the Jimny. We’re hoping they’re added in the future.
So why give it a 9/10 for value? Well we consider the Jimny’s closest rival – in overall mission, as well as off-road ability – to be the Jeep Wrangler. How much is a Wrangler? From $51,950 plus on-road costs and while the Jeep offers a lot more kit, more engine and generally more car, it’s more than twice the price of the Jimny.
Performance & Economy: 6/10
Producing just 75kW of power and 130Nm of torque, the Jimny is certainly no powerhouse. Even with its 1,110kg kerb weight, the Jimny’s 0-100km/h sprint time is comfortably north of the 10 second mark – and because of its peak torque being produced at a relatively high 4,000rpm, you have to rev it to get the most out of it.
It’s certainly not the most refined engine and we think the 81kW 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo in the Swift GLX – let alone the Swift Sport’s 103kW 1.4L turbo! – would be an ideal companion for the Jimny as it would be much more efficient and yet also more refined. Choosing either of those options would allow Suzuki to fit six-speed gearboxes as well, which is something we’d also really like to see.
Suzuki claims that the Jimny will use a fair 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle and in some mixed driving, we got just under 8L/100km. Not amazing, but it does run on 91RON fuel. The five-speed manual transmission in our test car is very much the gearbox to choose in the Jimny, but its off-road focus is obvious – it’s got a long throw and it’s not precise at all. Still, its ratios are far superior to the optional four-speed automatic and it has much less transmission whine as well.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
Out on the road, the 2021 Suzuki Jimny’s manners are perfectly liveable, if not amazing. With a lengthy off-road heritage, as well as a ladder chassis, a dual-range transfer case and solid axles, the Jimny is a genuine off-road expert and ventures far further off the beaten track than most owners can ever dream of. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to test the Jimny’s off-road credentials fully, but previous experience in them shows that they are excellent when it comes to venturing into the unknown, especially thanks to its 210mm ground clearance and 37-degree approach and 49-degree departure angles. Being much smaller than larger 4WDs such as Wrangler, Land Cruisers and Patrols means that the Jimny can get up tighter tracks and skip over ruts in the road. On gravel we found it to be stable and secure. A proper low range gearbox is found on all Jimnys too, meaning that even the toughest obstacles can be conquered.
The on-road driving experience of the new Jimny is also much better than the previous model. Its live front and rear axles – plus its short wheelbase – do make the ride a bit on jiggly side, but it’s perfectly liveable. The steering is a touch odd however as it weights up when you aren’t expecting it to – at low speeds, for example. Ultimately, a Jeep Wrangler is a more comfortable car, but again, it does cost more than twice the price of the Jimny.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
While Suzuki has done a great job with updating the Jimny’s exterior to feel modern, but with a retro edge, the interior certainly draws back to the name’s humble and utilitarian beginnings. It’s reasonably well insulated from the elements and surprisingly spacious, but it’s not a luxury vehicle – the plastics are all hard and shiny, the storage options are limited and there’s a kind of basic feel.
But considering the Jimny’s mission as a small, cute, cheap and fun off-roader, we can forgive it. It’s very well screwed together – everything feels solid and well made, and the leather steering wheel is quite nice to hold as well. Centre of the Jimny’s cabin is the same 7.0-inch touchscreen as pretty much every other new Suzuki product in Australia – it’s well featured with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, inbuilt navigation and a reversing camera. It’s also basic in operation but it works fine – same with the two-speaker sound system, which can thankfully be upgraded to a six-speaker set up through the accessories list.
We’d like to see Suzuki offer more interior storage solutions because at the moment, there isn’t much of it – a reasonable glovebox is the highlight, with tiny door pockets, a small bin for keys or maybe your phone ahead of the gearbox, two cup holders and that’s about it. There’s no covered storage, so think twice about leaving valuables inside when the car is locked.
The Jimny is a very well packaged car, and you can fit a surprising amount of stuff into it – a box is the most practical shape, after all. Sitting behind my driving position, my six-foot frame had excellent headroom and just enough leg room as well and although it’s only got two seats in the rear, two people will be more than comfortable thanks to its width.
There are no rear seat features however – no vents, no cup holders, no nets, no nothing but at least the door aperture is wide enough for you to get into the rear seat. Expect to see tons of exposed metal too. Utilitarian, simple and light. Clever. The rear seats also feature ISOFIX child seat points.
The boot of the 2021 Suzuki Jimny is small at just 85-litres with the 50:50-split rear seats erected, but fold them down and Suzuki says that a pretty reasonable 830L is available. Regardless, in two-seat mode, the Jimny is perfectly liveable as a grocery getter-cum-weekend adventure machine.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like the other Suzuki models currently on sale in Australia, the 2021 Suzuki Jimny is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty, as well as five years of roadside assistance. Such warranties are the norm these days in Australia. It’s worth knowing that some failures might not be covered if they were caused by off road use, so keep that in mind.
Unlike turbo models in the Suzuki range, the Jimny has longer 15,000km service intervals, and its capped price service program costs $1,655 over five years or 75,000km for a reasonable $331 yearly average.
The 2021 Suzuki Jimny DiscoverAuto Score: 7.4/10
Assessing this little 4WD warrior purely on programatic grounds doesn’t serve the 2021 Suzuki Jimny entirely well, unfortunately. Whist it’s pretty good value for money, relatively well equipped and with a good warranty, it’s also slow, unrefined, thirsty, not amazing to drive, not very practical and not amazing quality either.
But – and it’s a big but – there’s just so much charm, fun and heritage to the Jimny that you completely forgive its negatives. Throw in some genuinely brilliant off-roading ability for a third of what you’d have to pay for some larger, more established 4WDs and the Suzuki Jimny it is still very much a unique and impressive offering. It makes every journey just that: a journey. It’s not a chore any longer as you ever want the trip to end. Plus, it’s available in some funky colours, it’ll be endlessly reliable and it’s just so much cooler than the usual brigade of SUVs – or slightly taller hatchbacks – that are available for around the same money. We absolutely adore it!