Suzuki Jimny (2019-2020) Review
It has the off-road ability of a mountain goat and a cute design, but most will find the appeal of the Suzuki Jimny is only skin-deep
Strengths & weaknesses
- Appealing design
- Adept off-road
- Small dimensions make it easy to park
- Limited space forces a choice between passengers or luggage
- Feeble engine
- Uncomfortable ride
2019 Suzuki Jimny prices from £16,495 Finance from £405.64 per month
Like a lion cub in a YouTube video, there’s something irresistibly appealing about the latest Suzuki Jimny.
The square angles, chunky plastic wheelarches and large circular lights make it look like a Jeep that’s been put on a hot wash: an off-road pocket toy, available in a range of bright colours.
The result is a long waiting list of buyers, with Suzuki barely able to make enough cars to satisfy demand in Britain.
It may mean that your best chance of getting a car quickly is to look for a nearly-new Jimny, but before you do, ask yourself whether you should.
Because underneath the cartoonish looks is not a hardy, comfortable car that’s ideal for tootling around, but some very basic technology: a wheezy 1.5-litre engine and vague steering that makes piloting new Jimny on the motorway somewhat of a challenge. It’s noisy at higher speeds too.
Tiny proportions make Jimny excellent for threading through busy town centres, while soft suspension soaks up the impact of potholes and speed bumps but does make the car bounce around.
The Jimny relies on comparatively basic technology and the interior remains 'wipe clean' as opposed to carpeted. Attempts at sophistication in the top-specification SZ5 models largely consist of bolting a touchscreen system to the dashboard and peppering the interior with a few leather touches.
Scrambling into the two back seats is a feat of agility, but there is enough rear legroom and headroom to accommodate adults comfortably. The problem is that owners will have to make a choice between transporting passengers or cargo, as the boot relies on the rear seats folding flat to offer anything more than a measly 85-litres.
This all makes it difficult to recommend the vehicle over some of its more accomplished family-friendly rivals, especially if the standard four-wheel drive system isn't a requirement.
The Volkswagen T-Cross, Kia Stonic or even the much larger Dacia Duster cost a little more than the Jimny, which starts at around £16,000 from new, and won’t make the daily drive a literal and metaphorical pain in the backside.
However, this doesn’t take into account the car’s ability to tackle tough terrain with ease.
If you do need a vehicle to wade through sticky mud, climb steep, slippery slopes and navigate uneven rocky ground, then you’ll see the Jimny in an entirely different light.
It’s astoundingly capable off road. The 210mm clearance between the ground and the bottom of the car, means that the Jimny isn’t affected by protruding rocks or deep puddles.
A low-range gearbox, four-wheel drive, and light weight, gives it the pulling power to haul itself up steep slopes, and over uneven ground, while hill descent control (in SZ5 cars) keeps you from careering down gradients.
There’s not another car like it on sale, but if you’re drawn in by its looks, or its off-road ability, then you’ll need to be confident that you can live with its basic performance in other areas.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot space||85 litres|
|Tax||£530 in first year, £145 thereafter|
Best Suzuki Jimny for...
Best for Economy – Suzuki Jimny 1.5 SZ4 Manual
There isn't much choice in the Jimny line-up but the most basic version, with its 15-inch black steel wheels and sparse interior, is about as cheap and charming as they come.
Best for Families – Suzuki Jimny 1.5 SZ5 Automatic
With slightly improved specification inside and the addition of smartphone connectivity, this automatic might not be the best drive in the world, but it's easier to stomach on the daily commute.
- January 2019 Suzuki Jimny goes on sale in SZ4 or SZ5 trim
- July 2021 Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) goes on sale with two seats, 863-litre boot, and four-wheel drive
Understanding Suzuki Jimny names
Trim level SZ4
The trim level dictates the amount of standard equipment you get - as well as the price. SZ4 is the entry-level model. SZ5 comes with more, but costs extra.
Engine 1.5 Petrol
The engine size is usually shown in litres - here it's 1.5. This petrol engine is the only option in the Jimny.
Suzuki Jimny Engines
There's just one engine in the Suzuki Jimny: a 1.5-litre petrol unit that accelerates from 0-62mph in around 13 seconds. It's got a reasonable amount of pulling power - known as torque - for its weight, with 95lb ft.
The numbers show that this is a car that is geared towards slippery farm tracks and loose rock surfaces, rather than the fast, Tarmac surfaces of many UK roads.
Low gears boost power at slow speeds, giving the car excellent off-road ability, but do mean that the engine is uses a high level of revs at 70mph motorway speeds, makng it noisy and not particularly efficient. You can expect around 37mpg in real-world driving, according to the Equa Index, which estimates realistic fuel economy based on public road testing.
Fuel economy for cars with an automatic gearbox drops to 34mpg in normal conditions.
All models comes ALLGRIP Pro four-wheel-drive. You can choose to send all of the engine's power to the rear wheels for better fuel economy when driving on the road.
Official fuel economy
Suzuki Jimny Trims
There's not a lot of head-scratching required when it coms to choosing the right Suzuki trim level for you.
Entry-level SZ4 cars ride on 15-inch steel wheels and pack a very rudimentary digital radio receiver inside.
All models include with hill hold control, which prevents you rolling back on hill starts, cruise control, electric front windows and manual air conditioning, while An audio system allows you to stream tunes from your phone wirelessly with Bluetooth.
There is a dash of luxury in the form of a leather steering wheel, a front sun visor with vanity mirror, USB port for charging devices, heated door mirrors and bright LED headlamps which can automatically switch from high to dipped beam to avoid dazzling other drivers. It is also possible to specify the automatic gearbox on these range-topping SZ5 cars.
Suzuki Jimny Reliability and warranty
Suzuki doesn't sell enough models in Britain to regularly appear in customer satisfaction surveys but the brand - and Jimny in particular - have a solid reputation for reliability. The simple underpinnings of the car have ben designed to survive in harsh environments.
The warranty isn't particularly long, lasting three years - or up to 60,000 miles depending on which comes soonest. However, the car's simplicity means there is less to go wrong than in other higher-tech alternatives.
Used Suzuki Jimny
Strong demand for the Suzuki Jimny means that affordable models aren't really available as used cars.
This will change as early demand for the car is met and more models hit the roads, but your best bet of getting a car quickly now is to look for a nealry-new model. It's normally worth getting in touch with retailers to mention an interest, as cars may come into stock and be sold before they are advertised.
Alternatively, you could look at a previous-generation Jimny, which lacks the looks of the new car but does offer much of the off-road ability.