Finally, here's the Suzuki Jimny review that we've all been waiting for.
Suzuki faced a daunting task these past few years: to replace its niche yet highly popular Jimny. With two decades under its belt, the third generation has definitely set its foothold and reputation – good or bad – in the market, more so if you add the fact that this car has a cult following ever since its first iteration in the ‘70s. Making an all-new, fourth-generation model was pretty much like reinventing the car itself and wasn’t a walk in the park, I reckon.
Fortunately, Suzuki delivered and created the all-new2019 Jimny. Armed with nostalgia, cute and boxy appeal, and touted 4x4 off-roading capabilities, it literally broke through the tightly competitive market – not only in the Philippines but globally as well. In fact, Suzuki Japan was, and still is, having a hard time keeping up with the global demand.
Good thing, Suzuki Philippines was able to get its allotted units and luckily, we got our hands on the top-of-the-line GLX two-tone variant for this full review.
It would be hard to describe the Jimny’s styling without mentioning some of its contemporaries that it’s akin to. Some say that it looks like a mini Mercedes G-Class; some liken it to a small Jeep Wrangler. Well, I say it’s their love child. Whatever your inclinations are, one thing’s for sure – the Jimny is still diminutive in size regardless of its subtle size increase. What isn't subtle, however, is the width increase of almost 1 inch on each side. It’s also tall, almost as tall as I am at 5’6”, so I won’t blame you if you tell me that we’re not exactly a match.
Kidding aside, the all-new Jimny employs a mix of classic styling and modern niceties. The round headlights are LED projectors, equipped with headlamp washers and manual leveling. The 15-inch wheels, however, look a bit too narrow in my opinion. Good thing, the dark metallic gray alloy rims are a pleasure to look at. Although I’m more inclined to love the Jungle Green paint color for the Jimny, the Kinetic Yellow with a contrasting black roof admittedly works for the car, making it quite a head-turner on the road.
The flurry of classic boxy styling populates the Jimny’s cabin, as well. The fake rivet heads, the circular air vents, and the individually-sectioned orange-lit gauge clusters all constitute to a retro appeal. In contrast, however, the 2019 Jimny comes with a massive display at the center of the dashboard, audio and cruise control buttons on the leather-covered steering wheel, and a digital, albeit, monochrome, trip meter.
What I pretty much love about the Jimny, as with other modern Suzuki vehicles, is the execution of plastics in the cabin. They’re soft-touch and don’t look cheap at all. Even without padding, the door panels and the gear shifter housing won’t hurt your knees. The media tester also comes with a yellow-green-stitched leather accessory in front of the passenger, which adds a bit of an accent in the cabin.
Space is, of course, the Jimny’s weakest trait but that should be expected with its size and two-door configuration. It’s better than before, however, as your elbows won’t hit the windows anymore when making a full turn. In my driving position, a person of my height would have just enough leg- and wiggle-room to fit, but not to horse around. The seats are a little flat with minimal bolstering but the soft cushioning makes it livable even during long drives. NVH insulation can be improved, though, while the ride quality is of a typical ladder-on-frame SUV – bouncy with a lot of pitching, diving, and rolling. But then again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Trunk space remains minimal, as well, with only 85-liters to offer with the rear seats up. What has improved from before is the backrests that fold completely flat to the floor, revealing 377L of space – almost as huge as the trunk space of a compact crossover. With the seats folded and four tie slots in place, you could fit a 5’3” surfboard inside the Jimny with extra space for luggage and other stuff. Other storage includes two cupholders and one cubbyhole at the center console, while the two doors have narrow pockets that won’t even fit a small water bottle. That’s just about it.
As previously mentioned, Suzuki incorporated classic styling with modern features in the all-new Jimny, and that extends to the convenient tech features included in the car. Available this time around are speed-sensing door locks, automatic LED headlights, cruise control, automatic air-conditioning with pollen filter, and a 9-inch multimedia infotainment system that doubles as the display for the rear camera and the clinometer.
The infotainment system has a clear and crisp display, while smartphone integration via USB, Bluetooth, and iPod connectivity is seamless even without Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. However, there were several times when the head unit got stuck and just turned its display off. I resolved to pulling over and restarting the car in order to fix the issue. The speaker setup won’t be a delight for music lovers out there, though, but handsfree calls are okay for the most part.
The Philippine-spec Jimny comes with dual front airbags, seatbelt reminders for the driver and passenger, 3-point seatbelts for every occupant, two ISOFIX tethers, side impact door beams, hill hold control, hill descent control, ABS with brake assist function, stability control, and reverse proximity sensors. These features are pretty much enough for you to feel safe, plus the feeling of rigidity because of the ladder frame chassis.
Driving & Handling
The 2019 Jimny’s naturally-aspirated K15B 1.5L gasoline engine delivers 100 hp and 130 Nm of torque – sounds puny for an SUV but remember that it’s the same engine found in the bigger Ertiga MPV. With that in mind, it also does the trick to pull the 1,100-kg mini-SUV. Within the confines of the city, the Jimny felt right at home with its size and short wheelbase, albeit, there’s a bit of a gripe with its heavy steering feel. It was quite a workout – something to be thankful for when cruising but a bit of a burden when maneuvering in tight spaces.
On the highway and provincial roads, however, the Jimny was more-than-decent. I took the media unit all the way to the eastern coast of Luzon in Baler, Aurora for more rigorous testing. Highway runs were stable and composed, although, you’ll hear the engine roaring at around 3,000 RPM as you reach legal speed limits. Overtaking felt safe so long as you push the pedal to the metal. The drive on winding roads wasn’t terrifying but it wasn’t a cakewalk either. There were moments of oversteer but it was easy to get back on track because of the stability control.
Moreover, there was a bit of a delay in the Jimny’s downshifting but thankfully, the transmission didn’t hesitate to upshift for better fuel efficiency. Brakes bit sufficiently but can be improved for safer halting.
The Jimny’s wide driving visibility was definitely an asset, whether you’re within the city, on the highway, or when you’re off-roading. Speaking of the latter, I took the Jimny to an uncharted course to test its supposed off-roading capability. Rocks, muds, steep terrains, and coarse sand weren't an issue, thanks largely to the 4L low range transfer, the 3-link rigid axle suspension, and the traction provided by the Dunlop Grandtrek all-season tires. Its 37º approach angle, 28º break-over angle, and 49º departure angle virtually allows you to go anywhere, plus the rigidity of the chassis commands confidence. However, if you’re going to take the Jimny to more hardcore off-roading courses, I suggest upgrading to a more appropriate set of tires and a long-travel suspension setup.
The third-generation Jimny has gained a reputation as a gas-guzzler throughout its two-decade lifetime. The all-new version, however, returned decent numbers.
City crawls read back 8.6 km/L while faster paces on a Sunday morning (60 km/h average) registered 12.5 km/L. Flat highway stints with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h clocked in 17.6 km/L. These fuel efficiency numbers are a huge improvement from before, but the 40L fuel tank means that you have to take more trips to fuel stations especially on long distance drives.
The fourth-generation Suzuki Jimny is more than just a fashion statement, but it’s still a niche offering that caters towards those who want it rather than need it. You probably won’t buy this vehicle if you have a baby on the way. It’s a great choice for bachelors and bachelorettes, or a hobby vehicle for dads and young professionals with active lifestyles.
Now, at P1,095,000 for the range-topping two-tone GLX variant, is the 2019 Suzuki Jimny worth it? It’s a resounding yes considering all the upgrades and improvements from its aging predecessor. The Jimny has come a long way from its past and that alone is worth the added price tag.