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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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