The Jimny has been gobbling up the gravel since its inception in 1970. The latest model is in fact the fourth iteration of the Jimny, and the (equally loveable) car that it replaces had been in production from 1998 to 2018. A lot can happen in 20 years, such as garnering an incredibly passionate following in South Africa and the world as Suzuki's loveable, go-anywhere 4x4. A proper 4x4 mind you, not a mere soft-roading SUV.
Like a scrappy underdog, its whole appeal lies in the fact that it can keep up with the bigger offroaders more commonly found out on the trails. That it looks like a miniature Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen doesn’t hurt, either. Factor into its rugged formula a stylish cabin and decent smartphone connectivity, and you can add city slicker to its list of skills.
This compact box-on-wheels features three doors, including the hinged hatch at the rear. And we do mean compact: at just 3 645 mm long, 1 645 mm wide and 1 720 mm high, it is tiny. As a result, it’s no family car, but ripe for an adventure couple and a dog or two. Want a closer look? Well, you’ll find plenty of them in the parking lot of your local hiking trail, gym and even coffee shop.
The Jimny was conceived as the LJ10 in 1970, just two years after Suzuki purchased the bankrupt Japanese Hope Motor Company. From these dying embers, Suzuki produced its first four-wheel drive 'light jeep' (LJ). Powered by a meagre 359cc two-stroke, two-cylinder engine, it was the very definition of humble beginnings.
Next came the SJ30, produced from 1981 until 1998 and sold with myriad badges including Chevrolet, Holden and Maruti – all with the same SJ motor, a one-litre engine churning out 33 kW. Now the Jimny was going places. There were variations over its long career (such as the JA series), but the next big model change would come with the third model, the JB series of Jimny, which has been part of Suzuki South Africa's stable for well over a decade. In 2019 Suzuki finally gave us the latest instalment of the Jimny, and we're thrilled to have it.
Suzuki South Africa recently partnered with Wesbank to create Suzuki Mobility Finance for seamless purchasing of new and used cars. Suzuki offers up three grades of Jimny, the entry-level GA model, a higher specced GL derivative and finally, a GLX flagship. Each grade is then further offered in a manual and automatic transmission. As such, the Suzuki Jimny price ranges from just R326 900 for a manual GA capable of challenging some serious 4x4s, all the way up to the Jimny 1.5l GLX Auto at R385 900.
There's nothing that can touch the value here when it comes to offroad ability, but it's worth mentioning that despite its high number of premium bells and whistles, the Jimny is no highway cruiser. While it is competent on the tarmac, the naturally aspirated 1.5L engine means you're not going anywhere in a terrible hurry. Bluetooth connectivity is common across all grades, but if you've opted for the high-end GLX you'll have a seven-inch touchscreen and a host of smartphone sync options such as Android Auto and Apple Carplay to make your road trips fun.