The Suzuki Jimny is a compact three-door SUV that’s become quite the icon in its latest (and last) shape – it was launched in 2018 and disappeared from showrooms in 2020 because of EU emissions regulations. It looks brilliant, with ‘old-school’ styling that gives a clue about where it performs best: off-road.
Size-wise, it’s quite dinky. Its flared wheel arches, oversized door mirrors, Jeep-like grille and round headlights make it stand out.
When new, the Jimny was available with a fair number of customisation options and vivid colours – as standard, SZ4 trim gives you steel wheels and SZ5 switches them for alloys and adds LED headlights. We’d usually be inclined to choose a car with alloy wheels, but those ‘steelies’ boost the Jimny’s utilitarian looks – they’re brilliant.
What's it like to drive?
The Suzuki Jimny sends power to the rear wheels in normal driving. Both trim levels (SZ4 and SZ5) have ALLGRIP Pro, which adds a smaller lever behind the regular gear lever and allows you to switch to ‘4H’ and ‘4L’. These are designed to be used off-road only, and it’s here where the Jimny shines – it has good ground clearance and can climb and descend slopes that would defeat most SUVs – it does this via a clever traction control system that brakes the wheels with the least grip.
There’s only a single engine choice – the 1.5-litre petrol. It’s fine for off-road and on-road use in and around town. It gets a little noisy on the motorway, so the Jimny is best used for short periods there.
It has good ground clearance and can climb and descend slopes that would defeat most SUVs.
Bear in mind the Suzuki Jimny’s utilitarian nature when you first get inside and you’ll be happy. In fact, in a funny way it adds to its charm – you won’t find many soft-touch plastics in here. What you do get is a high-set driving position and a straightforward dashboard with analogue instruments and a small digital screen in front of the driver.
SZ4 trim gives you cruise control, electric windows, air-con, auto headlights and a Bluetooth-equipped digital radio with CD player. SZ5 adds climate control, heats the front seats and swaps the radio for a touchscreen entertainment system with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It looks a bit like a ruggedised tablet with its large bezels, and the menus are simple and easy to navigate.
The steering wheel adjusts for height rather than reach, although most should be able to find a comfortable driving position. Space in the front seats is also good, as is visibility, and there’s room for two in the rear seats – tall adults will be happier up front but everyone else will be pleased with the amount of space on offer.
You’ll find plenty of space for your odds and ends in the Jimny’s glovebox, door bins, ahead of the gear lever and between the front seats.
Remember, this is a compact SUV, so the boot has enough space for two or three squashy bags stacked on top of each other with the rear seats in use.
The seat backs are split 50/50 and fold flat (with the headrests removed) to provide space for a couple of larger suitcases – some cars have a plastic finish to the boot that makes it easy to clean, while the boot door is side-hinged and creates a large loading aperture when it’s open.
Reliability and running costs
The single choice of 1.5-litre petrol engine are usually fitted with a manual gearbox. Official average economy for this version is 35.8mpg, while Jimnys with the automatic gearbox will return 32.2mpg officially.
It’s a big and capable car, so needs a fair amount of fuel. You might find there are savings to be made on the servicing side, where costs are lower.
Like many Japanese car makers, Suzuki has a good reputation for reliability, although the Jimny came with only a three-year manufacturer’s warranty when new, so you might want to consider cinchCare for added peace of mind.
What we love
We love the Jimny’s styling – and so does everyone else, judging by the way cars flew out of showrooms when it was new. It’s no longer sold new, which has actually caused prices to rise on the used market. We also love the Jimny’s off-road prowess – this is the perfect 4x4 for those who live off the beaten track or just want to go mud-plugging from time to time and not get stuck.
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If the Jimny’s iconic styling doesn’t already have you hooked, the way it gets itself out of a bog will – this small Suzuki really does have the off-road ability to back up its chunky styling, and its attractive yet utilitarian interior simply adds to its charms.
This review was