2019 Suzuki Jimny
2019 Suzuki Jimny

Australia’s coolest new car

SHOVING aside small faux-wheel drive SUVs, Suzuki's new Jimny arrives with serious retro cool plus genuine off-road talent.

Fun, stylish, great value, able to climb mountains and one of this year's most eagerly awaited cars, the Jimny arrives with a bargain $23,990 before on-roads price tag for the manual version.

Can it serve as viable fun transport for our family of four?

First impressions

Iain: I'm almost welling up with the nostalgia …

Jules: I know you're going to bring up your 1986 Suzuki Sierra and how we had to sell it when we had children.

Iain: I loved that car. It went anywhere.

Jules: Well, here's your modern retro equivalent, all boxy, equally cute and far safer than your old one.

The new Jimny’s styling has some serious retro charm.
The new Jimny’s styling has some serious retro charm.

Iain: And still one of the most capable 4WDs on the market. These new Jimnys weigh as much as a chip packet so they just fly over soft sand and rocks.

Jules: It's a funky, chunky but tiny thing. I love the black roof, dark alloys and rear barn door with spare wheel attached.

Iain: Great how Suzuki has dropped the outgoing Jimny's softer design and replicated the boxiness of the 1980s SJ Sierra. Like my old one. That you made me sell.

Jules: Buy one of these then. They're only $24K, plus $1250 for the paint.

Iain: Only white is free sadly, and there should be more colour choices than Suzuki's palette.

Jules: True. Regardless, if you're looking at small SUVs the Jimny is great value.

Iain: Similar money will get you a front-wheel drive Mazda CX-3 or Mitsubishi ASX. I'd rather take roller-skates off-road.

The living space

Jules: It's titchy inside but there are two good cup holders, space for a phone and it's certainly light and airy.

Iain: You sit up high, there's huge headroom and the large and long windows give brilliant outward vision.

Jules: Switches and dials are chunky, round air vents are stylish and I'm amazed to see a touchscreen.

The Jimny has a decent amount of kit for the price.
The Jimny has a decent amount of kit for the price.

Iain: Almost mandatory these days. And with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and satnav, it's got the modern toys.

Jules: The infotainment is slow to connect to my phone and the audio is hardly concert hall standard.

Iain: Hence the cheap price. And also why hard plastics dominate. The seat material looks as if it'll stain too; not great for wet boardshorts, muddy pants or sunscreened skin.

Jules: I'd definitely option some rubber floor mats.

The commute

Iain: I may like the old school looks and 4WD ability but the ride and cabin noise bring back less happy memories.

Jules: There have to be some compromises. It did feel hairy at highway speeds in the wind, getting pushed around a lot.

Iain: And running at 3000rpm at 110km/h means the little 1.5-litre is noisy on the highway. Good to have cruise control though.

Jules: If you have a city commute it's fine. It's so small for zipping between traffic.

Iain: You have to treat corners gingerly too. It is wallowy and leans in the turns - but drop the speed and it's a joy to punt along.

There isn’t much cargo space with the rear seats up.
There isn’t much cargo space with the rear seats up.

The shopping

Jules: Leave the two independently foldable rear seats down and there's plenty of room for the shop, and with the barn door it's so big and easy to access.

Iain: If you have two child seats tethered in, it's a different story.

Jules: Indeed. You need to remove the handy rear luggage box to fit child seats, leaving you only space for about two shopping bags.

Iain: Proving the Jimny's no family car. You can barely fit a slab of beer behind the two rear seats when they're up.

Jules: Positively, it's so easy to park thanks to its tiny size and reversing camera.

Sunday run

Iain: Beach drive. No question.

Jules: It was at its most comfortable when we took it on the sand. I can't believe how capable it felt.

Iain: Old school helps. It weighs less than 1100kg, has a ladder chassis, low range, 210mm ground clearance and excellent approach and departure angles.

Jules: Right. What you said. I just appreciated how it never ever felt like it would get stuck, and it was easy enough to put into 4WD mode or low-range with the little shifter.

Iain: It was impressive through very soft sand. Suzuki's AllGrip Pro worked superbly, applying braking force to any slipping wheel.

The Jimny lets you get to those had to reach places.
The Jimny lets you get to those had to reach places.

The family

Jules: If you're a family of one or two, it's OK.

Iain: Indeed. With rear seats permanently down there's room aplenty for camping gear or sports kit. Kids? Not really.

Jules: They loved it though. Like a big toy car, they said. But it was really hard getting them in their seats with it being a two-door.

Iain: Come on, it's fine. You just slide the seats forward. And actually, there's handy storage beside their car seats above the wheel arches.

Jules: OK, the rear windows don't open and there are no rear air vents. You can clean up the vomit.

Iain: There's safety kit - autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist - but the three-star crash rating puts me off as a parent.

The verdict

Jules: For singles or couples liking cool style and off-roading talents, the new Jimny looks perfect. Why pay more? There's so much fun to be had.

Iain: Not the comfiest on highways or corners but I'd forgive this car anything. Brilliant off-road, head-turning looks and smiles for miles. No wonder there's a long waiting list already.

Suzuki Jimny GLX vitals

Price: $23,990 (man) plus on-roads

Warranty/servicing: 5 years/140,000km, $2912 for 5 years/100,000km

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cyl, 75kW/130Nm

Safety: 3 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, rear camera, lane departure warning, hill descent control

Thirst: 6.4L/100km

Spare: Full-size

Boot: 59L-377L

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