The Jimny has been South Africa, and the world's, favourite little 4x4 for many years now and it just keeps getting better.

The latest generation was launched a few years ago with only 2 specification options being base GA and luxury GLX versions. Recently, the range was expanded with the addition of the middle version, the GL as tested here. The GL retains the basic shape and body that is so distinctive and loved by buyers. Waiting lists that until recently exceeded 6 months or more attest to the popularity of the vehicle.

The fact that it adds full 4x4 technology and go-anywhere ability just add to the package. The fact that only a small proportion of buyers will ever use this is somehow not important. For those, it simply adds to the street cred of the little car. Engaging 4x4 is as simple as moving a secondary lever next to the gear lever.

I've personally completed an advanced 4x4 course in a Jimny so will never question it's ability in this respect. Short, agile and minimal overhangs make it ideal for handling the rough stuff.

The word little is appropriate because the Jimny is deliberately tiny. In full 4 seater mode, boot space measures in at 85L. Fortunately, the rear seats can be dropped 50/50 so to create a reasonable load space you can carry a maximum of 3. Rear seat space is surprisingly good, but the rear windows only hinge open so it's not for the claustrophobic.

Power is provided by a 1.5l petrol engine providing 75kW and 130Nm to either 2 or 4 wheels as chosen, with 2 wheel drive being the default mode for road driving. The boxy shape, lack of aerodynamics and heavy 4x4 hardware mean that you will never go anywhere in a hurry, life should always be relaxed in a Jimny.

Fuel economy is reasonable due to the facts mentioned above and we showed 7.1l/100km after our week long test. This was all urban driving and a few freeway runs where you have to accept that this is not the ideal place for the Jimny. The very short wheelbase creates a rather bouncy ride that you have to accept as part of your life.

GL spec provides items like alloy wheels, bluetooth infotainment but no touchscreen or reverse camera (you really don't need a reverse camera in such a tiny vehicle). Once again, I missed auto door locking on pull-off, this is something that I believe should be standard on every vehicle in SA.

The GL model carries a R17 000 price premium over the base model and in addition to the extra items as mentioned above the service plan increase from 2 years/ 30 000km to 4 years and 60 000km. This could be worth the extra outlay on it's own.

The Jimny is one of those vehicles that have a special magic. Cute and distinctive with a cult following, they may not be the most practical or comfortable vehicles available yet everybody wants one. No wonder Suzuki SA can't get enough of them to satisfy demand.

Pricing is as follows:

GA Allgrip R326 900

GL Allgrip R343 900

GL Allgrip Auto R 357 900

GLX Allgrip R356 900

GLX Allgrip Auto R377 900

A 5 year/ 200 000km warranty is standard across the range.


Alan Rosenmeyer:   MotorMatters: