Return of the warrior
by Andy Bryenton
Suzuki has been producing a small, super-compact off-roader under various names for the past 40 years now — the Samurai was the first in this lineage, and the current Jimny is the latest. In between, we’ve seen the boxy, military-jeep inspired form move with the times, but the recipe has remained the same.
It’s one beloved of real off-roaders — take a peppy, high-revving engine, add a generous amount of ground clearance, simple, wheel-at-each-corner chassis design, a gearbox and differentials, which can take the hard knocks, and wrap it up in a price which makes the big boys of the off-road world look bloated and expensive. Like the light little Caterham on the race track or the Toyota MR2 on the road, it’s an exercise in cutting right to the core of what a machine should do, then adding absolutely nothing unnecessary.
Which brings us to the latest iteration of the Jimny. It has added something, which the outgoing model doesn’t have, inspired, perhaps, by the success of the retro-cool Ignis, also in the Suzuki stable. It looks fantastic.
Cute as a button but still sharp-edged and eager, like a Rottweiler puppy or a baby version of Mercedes’ G-Wagen. The crisp, boxy creases and sharp lines hint at serious off-road chops, evoking everything from the old Willy’s world war two jeep through to the first edition Toyota Land Cruiser.
Moreover, because it’s part of the Samurai-Escudo-Jimny heritage, it has a 1.5 litre four-pot motor, proper four-wheel drive with high and low ratios, and that absurdly lightweight to actually deliver on its promises.
For decades, the smallest Suzuki off-roader in the garage has offered supreme value for money. It’s even been a weapon of choice for serious off-road racers, who value its lightness and power to weight ratio when skipping over mud puddles and hitting terrifyingly steep slopes. Now, Suzuki has added a real sense of retro-inspired cool to the mix, in the same way, Fiat or Mini did when they reinvented their 1960s classics. For practicality and style, this is definitely one to pick!