Replacing its predecessor after a successful 20-year life cycle and with an international Good Design Award already perched on the mantelpiece, the all-new Suzuki Jimny is finally available in Mzansi.
The 2018 Suzuki Jimny arrives here with the choice of two specification levels (GA and GLX), two transmission options (five speed manual and four speed automatic) and a host of made-for-adventure accessories. What is not optional, is the in-built off-road capability with ALLGRIP PRO mechanical shifting 4×2, 4×4 and 4×4 low range transfer case and the rigid ladder frame chassis.
“The new Jimny not only shares many of the design cues of its forebears – the LJ, SJ and Jimny – it also shares their engineering ethos of providing a no-compromise off-road capable vehicle that is accessible to everyone.
“In the absence of many affordable 4×4 vehicles, this philosophy of building a compact and capable off-road vehicle at an affordable price is now more needed than ever. And it has seen the Jimny quickly log multi-year waiting lists in many of the countries in which it has been introduced,” says André Venter, divisional head for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa.
Venter explains that every one of the four generations of the Suzuki Jimny has kept to the same design brief. Build a compact, lightweight, affordable off-road vehicle with true 4×4 capabilities.
In the new generation, this is in its most concentrated form, thanks to the Jimny Chief Engineer Hiroyuki Yenezawa’s philosophy of “making the Jimny more attractive by refining every small detail of the model’s design.”
Good Design inside and out
With the all-new Jimny, Suzuki’s designers have worked hard to ensure that every styling cue and design element have both a cosmetic and a practical application.
The all-new Suzuki Jimny’s striking angular design pays direct homage to the original LJ Series (1970 – 1981) and SJ Series (1981 – 1998). The new model has the same upturned front fenders, round headlamps and round orange indicators of the LJ Series and the side slits in the clamshell bonnet of the SJ Series. The upright grille is reminiscent of the previous generation’s Jimny (1998 – 2018) and the SJ Series.
The retro-modern design of the new Jimny has found favour the world over and has been rewarded through a Good Design Award for combining styling features with practical application.
For instance, in colder climates the flat surfaces and thin window sills make it very easy to offload snow. In all conditions, the upright A-pillars and clamshell bonnet help increase spatial awareness and overall visibility and the longer roof over the upright windshield helps to shield the driver from direct sunlight.
The upright design of the roof pillars also enables the roof to carry more weight, which is ideal for a roof rack, rooftop tent and for rollover safety in case of an accident. This is further supported by the new model’s all-round drip rail, which has been designed to allow for easy clamping of roof racks, while also being a practical way of keeping passengers dry from water on the roof as they enter or exit the vehicle.
More applicable for overland enthusiasts are the angled front and rear bumpers that not only keep them out of the way of rocks and shrubs, but also increase the approach and departure angles. The front bumper design also exposes more of the tyre tread on a horizontal plane for greater climbing capability in rocky off-road conditions.
At the rear of the vehicle, Suzuki designers have moved all the lights into the horizontal rear bumper, which has allowed them to create a wider rear door, for increased practicality.
The spare wheel is fitted to the rear door for easy accessibility, while also freeing up space underneath the luggage floor and allowing for an improved departure angle. Fans of the Jimny series will also recognise the design of the GAspecification’s steel wheel, which looks similar to those from previous generations.
Lastly, the moulded bumpers and wheel arches keep painted surfaces far away from rocks, and the squared off design allows for more wheel travel. The square arches also allow for more space to replace, inflate or deflate tyres, which is a boon for anyone who loves playing in the sand.
From outside, you can distinguish the GA and GLX models by the GLX’s 15” alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles and painted exterior mirrors.
The exterior design’s blend of practical and retro design cues is carried over into the interior design. Here, the design of the instrument cluster, dashboard, partly exposed door panels and rear luggage area reminds drivers of the model’s nearly fifty-year history, while also incorporating the improvement feedback from owners of these previous models.
The dashboard is designed in three horizontal layers. The strong horizontal lines act as visual reference of the horizontal plane when driving off road and it cleverly incorporates an assist-grip and cell-phone tray on the middle level and a glovebox on the lower level.
The same horizontal lines flow to the moulded door panels with partly exposed body-coloured metal sections. These panels were designed to be easy to clean, robust and fit into the overall angular style of the new Jimny.
In front of the driver, the retro theme continues with the tachometer and speedometer housed in separate square binnacles. This is another hat tip to the SJ Series and in the new Jimny, these instruments are always illuminated, which emphasises the vehicle’s practical application.
In the all-new Jimny, the designers have taken special care to emphasise the tactile elements inside the cabin.
The upholstery is comfortable but hard-wearing, and the moulded dashboard features hard-wearing resin with a mix of a repeating line pattern and, on the lower parts, the same type of grippy texture as on a professional DSLR camera body.
The instrument panel housings have been finished in a brushed metal finish and the door handles have been enlarged for easy operation (or to hang on!) even when you are wearing work gloves. Similarly, the switches and dials have been designed for easy operation with work gloves and all stalks and dials have been tested for easy, intuitive operation.
Mechanical curriculum vitae – all four essentials of serious off-roading
While luxury specifications and accessories may vary from model to model, every single new Suzuki Jimny has the same mechanical pedigree and is ready for serious off-roading.
The backbone of the new Jimny’s capabilities is the ladder frame chassis. In the new model, Suzuki’s engineers have added a patented cross member, the Suzuki X-member, between the two rigid axles.
The X-member consists of two diagonal cross members that further strengthen the chassis. This helps to limit body flex in serious cross-axle off-road driving and also creates a very sturdy platform for the fitment of the body and the underbodyparts. As an additional benefit, the additional torsional strength has improved the Jimny’s on-road driving dynamics and overall crash safety.
The X-member is supported by the addition of two extra horizontal cross members. The first is located just behind the front wheels and under the gearbox bell housing and the second links the furthermost two points of the ladder frame under the rear bumper. Interestingly, the cowl member on which the windscreen wipers are mounted is now also made from metal and works with the additional cross members for greater rigidity and body strength.
The very rigid ladder frame is the basis of the Suzuki Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) system, which integrates high-strength steel, computer-aided design and the rigid platform for greater crash safety.
Sitting atop the ladder frame are eight new rubber mounts. These mounts are vertically softer and horizontally harder than before, for a more comfortable ride and more responsive handling.
The second essential element of a true off roader is the rigid axle suspension system. Rigid axles greatly improve serious off-road capabilities, as they mechanically force one wheel down if the opposite wheel is raised from the ground. Furthermore, the axle system prevents the nose from diving under speed, which is a boon when driving in dunes, and it handles rutted roads with greater ease.
The rigid axles are connected to the wheels with three links – a lateral rod on each wheel and two leading (on the front) and trailing (on the rear) arms.
Suzuki has strengthened the axle housings by 30% and has added a steering damper to the front suspension to limit steering wheel kickback and vibration on rough terrain.
The third element: ALLGRIP PRO four-wheel drive with low range transfer gear. The all-new Jimny replaces the push-button selection between 2H (rear-wheel drive), 4H (4WD high gear) and 4L (full low range, 4WD) with a shift lever that is directly connected to the transfer gear and can switch between 2H and 4H on the fly at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
The mechanical four-wheel drive system is greatly enhanced by Suzuki’s proprietary Brake Limited Slip Differential and electronic stability control systems. The Brake LSD-system adjusts torque to the wheel with grip if another wheel on the same axle starts spinning. The system has an extra-power mode, which kicks in below 30km/h in low-range mode for the best possible traction.
Brake LSD is supported by Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control, which are standard on all models. Hill Descent Control will maintain a descent speed of 10km/h in 4WD high range and 5 km/h in 4WD low range, which allows the driver to focus on navigating obstacles, without having to operate the brake pedal.
All these integrated 4×4 assist systems are combined as Suzuki’s proprietary ALLGRIP PRO off-road system and are standard on all models of the new Jimny.
The fourth essential element of a good off-roader is its approach, departure and breakover angles.
The all-new Jimny improves on its predecessor’s off-road angles by offering an approach angle of 37 degrees (35 degrees on the previous model), a departure angle of 49 degrees (46 degrees on the predecessor) and a breakover angle of 28 degrees (previously 27 degrees). The departure angle is especially impressive and benefits from the slightly shorter body and redesigned rear bumper.
The Jimny has a ground clearance of 210 mm, which is 20 mm more than the previous model.
The new Jimny’s dimensions are:
Wheelbase: 2 250 mm
Length: 3 625 mm (50 mm shorter than before, thanks to the redesigned front bumper)
Width: 1 645 mm (45 mm wider than before)
Front track: 1 395 mm (a 40 mm wider track than before)
Rear track: 1 405 mm (a 40 mm wider track than before)
Larger engine, lower fuel bill
For the all-new Jimny, Suzuki’s engineers have replaced the M13A 1.3 litre engine with a new 1.5 litre K15B petrol engine.
The new engine has a higher compression ratio (10.0:1) and greater thermal efficiency to deliver more power, while using less fuel. The new engine is rated at 75 kW at 6 000 rpm and 130 Nm at 4 000 rpm.
Fuel consumption on a combined cycle has been tested at 6.3 litres for the manual models and 6.8 litres for the automatic model. In contrast, the previous generation Jimny was rated at 7.2 litres and 7.8 litres per 100 km respectively.
Buyers will have a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. Both gearboxes’ gear ratios have been optimised for the new, more powerful 1.5 litre engine.
On the manual gearbox, Suzuki has worked hard to redesign the shift lever and gear selector to offer a more direct shift feeling. The new selector system is mounted partly to the ladder frame and partly to the gearbox for a more direct shift feeling, without transferring too much vibration through the shift lever.
The automatic gearbox has also been improved. The internal components were improved to reduce friction and improve shifts, while the gear selector gate has been replaced with a straight shift gate for easier operation.
Interior: Comfort and convenience
With the all-new Suzuki Jimny, the interior designers created a cabin with the practical luxury of a well-designed professional tool. Every detail surrounding the driver and front passenger has been designed to be easily accessible, even with gloves on, and is robust and functional.
Among the design highlights is a ride-in assist grip for the front passenger, a centre console tray that comfortably fits a phone and houses the accessory and USB sockets and a floor console tray that can hold smartphones upright and can securely hold 500 ml drinks bottles.
All versions of the Suzuki Jimny have air conditioning, power steering and the complete ALLGRIP PRO 4×4 system with Brake LSD, ESP, Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control. The GLX models get a host of additional features, including climate control, electric windows and mirrors, Auto LED projector headlamps, remote central locking and cruise control.
The GLX models are also fitted with Suzuki’s Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA). This double-DIN audio system has a 7” infrared-touch screen with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and MirrorLink integration. The system has a USB connector, SD-card slot and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and the most important features can be controlled by buttons on the leather-covered steering wheel.
In terms of comfort, the front seats have been redesigned to fold completely flat with the rear bench to allow someone to sleep inside the cabin, for instance while on a camping trip. On the passenger side, this flat-folding seat and foldable rear bench allow for a completely flat loading surface for long equipment, such as surfboards.
The driver and passenger seats have also been redesigned and have wider cushions and frames, while the side bolsters have been moved lower to allow the front occupants to comfortably move their shoulders, for instance when looking around for obstacles while navigating a tricky off-road section.
Lastly, on the topic of the new front seats, both seats have a longer sliding range of 240 mm.
The cabin itself has been made roomier, thanks to the clever interior design and the square exterior shape. The front occupants have 30 mm more legroom, the steering wheel can now be vertically adjusted for even more space and the rear passengers have 40 mm more legroom and a higher hip point for greater comfort on long journeys.
In the luggage area, the focus on practical space finds application in special utility hooks and screw holes for additional hooks, which are readily available at the nearest Suzuki dealer.
The squared-off design means that the luggage space is now 1 015 mm wide (previously 915 mm) and, on GLX models, the seatbacks have been covered in hard-wearing plastic for greater durability.
On the GLX models, there are a host of additional features in the storage area. The rear seats can fold down individually, there is an additional removable luggage box and toolbox under the luggage area floor and Suzuki has added an extra 12V socket to power items such as a camping fridge.
Suzuki has made every effort to ensure the safety of the Jimny’s occupants and of pedestrians.
The new model has impact-absorbing zones in the bumper, wipers, cowl, bonnet and hinges, and fenders to protect pedestrians. For occupants, the TECT-rated body, additional side-impact bars and two front airbags ensure the best possible passive crash safety.
On the active safety side, all Jimny models are fitted with ABS brakes with emergency brake assistance (BAS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to prevent wheel slip on all wheels and to help the Jimny track true on slippery surfaces and at high speed.
All Jimny models also have ISOFIX child seat anchors, a high mounted brake light and an emergency pedal release system.
Two grades available
Three models of the new Suzuki Jimny are available from launch.
The manual model with GA specification level has:
- Air conditioning
- Power steering
- ABS brakes, BAS and ISOFIX
- Dual SRS airbags
- ALLGRIP PRO 4wd system with low range
- Brake LSD
- Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control
- 15” steel wheels with full-size spare wheel
- Double DIN radio preparation with 2 speakers and antennae
The GLX specification level is available with the choice of manual and automatic gearbox and has the following additional specifications:
- Colour-coded door handles and painted exterior mirrors
- Electric windows and mirrors
- Automatic climate control
- 15” alloy wheels
- Remote central locking
- Auto LED projector headlamps
- Front fog lights
- SLDA touch screen infotainment system
- Multi-function leather steering wheel
- Cruise control
- Additional 12V socket in luggage area
- 50:50 folding rear seat
- Luggage area box
Suzuki will offer a wide range of accessories for both city-dwellers and off-road enthusiasts. These include mud flaps, side under-garnish strips, under-garnish for the front bumper, front and rear differential guards, utility and luggage hooks and side body mouldings. There are also an optional SUZUKI heritage front grille that makes reference to the SJ413 Samurai model and a rigid spare wheel cover for enthusiasts who would like to maximise the retro design theme.
Buyers of the new Suzuki Jimny can choose between three dual-tone and five single-tone colours. The dual-tone colours are a new high-visibility Kinetic Yellow, Brisk Blue Metallic and Chiffon Ivory Metallic. These models have a gloss black roof.
The single tone colours are Jungle Green, Bluish Black Pearl, Medium Grey, Silky Silver Metallic and White.
Like all Suzuki models, the Jimny is priced to be accessible to as many people as possible. The GLX model is standard with a 4 year / 60 000 km service plan and the GA model with a 2 year / 30 000 km service plan. All models are sold with a 5 year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty.