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Suzuki Jimny 2022 review: Lite 4WD off-road test

The current generation Suzuki Jimny JB74 range started off as a budget player, but the prices have risen over the time it has been on sale.

No doubt that has something to do with huge demand for the new-generation Jimny, which - anecdotally - can see wait times stretch as long as 16 months. Suzuki Australia swears it has improved wait times significantly, but there’s a possibility that you might decide to opt for this new version over the more comprehensively equipped model that sits above it.

The version we’re talking about - and we’re driving in this review - is the new 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite, which undercuts the existing model by $1500 and has a few interesting exclusions as a result.

Does that make it a less appealing off-roader? Or is it still the king of the compact 4WDs

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Honestly, it should be even cheaper. But part of the reason this generation of Jimny is so popular is because there are no close-priced rivals with this much capability on offer at this point in time. The GWM Tank range may address that soon, but until then, you’ve got a Land Rover Defender 90 (from $74,516), Jeep Wrangler 2 Door (from $53,750), or a number of second-hand options. Heck, even previous generation Jimnys are fetching close to $25k at the time of writing. 

There are some big omissions from this Jimny Lite model that relegate it to a no-frills example. Lite, yes. Light on spec? Yes to that, too.

For $26,990 (MSRP - plus on-road costs) and available with the five-speed manual transmission only, you are paying three grand more than you would have for the better-specced model when it launched in 2018, and that car is now $4500 dearer than when it launched, at $28,490.

There are multiple considerable subtractions made to help it meet that lower (but not low) price point, too.

Gone is the 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav (later replaced by a 9.0-inch screen without sat nav on 2022 models due to the microchip shortage), and with that there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto - just a double-din CD player and AM/FM radio with Bluetooth - more on just how bad that is in the interior section below.

There’s also manual air-conditioning instead of climate control, you get 15-inch steel wheels rather than the alloys on the dearer model, and you even miss out on interior light, a 12-volt outlet in the boot, fog lights and LED headlights (Lite runs halogen lamps). Those headlights, at least, have auto on-off functionality, and auto high-beam, too.

The Jimny Lite features 15-inch steel wheels (Image: Matt Campbell). The Jimny Lite features 15-inch steel wheels (Image: Matt Campbell).

You’ll miss colour-coding on the exterior - the mirrors and door handles are unfinished black plastic, and while those wing mirrors still feature electric adjustment, they don’t fold in like the higher-grade model.

What else is absent? A reversing camera is the last piece of the puzzle - and while it can be a potentially life-saving piece of safety technology, the Jimny remains pretty easy to size up when parking.

The headlights have auto on-off functionality, as well as auto high-beam (Image: Matt Campbell). The headlights have auto on-off functionality, as well as auto high-beam (Image: Matt Campbell).

Colour choices for the Jimny Lite are White (like you see here) which comes at no extra cost, while the metallic paint finishes - Jungle Green and Medium Grey will cost you $695 and you’ll have to spend $1295 more if you want two-tone black-roof paint in Chiffon Ivory, Kinetic Yellow or Brisk Blue.

As for accessories, there are several to choose from direct from Suzuki, including an upgraded stereo sound system, a different grille, underbody protection, nudge bar, mud flaps, floor mats, front and rear diff guards, different wheels, roof rack kits with bike carrier or snowboard/ski/surfboard racks, and a tow bar kit. 

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Still cute, isn’t it? I’d say in this spec, it actually looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model, with those yellowy halogen headlights and uncomplicated finishes on the exterior lending it a real “I’m here for good time” air.

I don’t love the fact the halogen lights are nowhere near as good as the projector LEDs in the more expensive model, though, and the white paint finish really draws your eye to the inners of the wheel arches, which aren’t lined in any version of the Jimny.

  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite looks more true to its roots than in the higher-grade model (Image: Matt Campbell).

But it’s still so compact and cute, it’s hard to stay mad - or even get mad - at the look of this little legend. Size wise, it runs 3645mm nose to tail on a 2250mm wheelbase, while its width is just 1645mm and the height is 1725mm. Easily small enough for even the pokiest bush tracks.

Those compact dimensions make for a pretty tight interior, though, with the four seater Jimny likely to be best considered a two-seat SUV with a big boot. In some markets like the UK, the brand has been forced to drop the rear seats altogether and reclassify the Jimny as a commercial van to get around strict emissions regulations. 

The Lite's compact dimensions make for a pretty tight interior (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite's compact dimensions make for a pretty tight interior (Image: Matt Campbell).

The interior design is really let down by the lack of a media screen, and the lack of usability that has become such a customary part of the modern-day drive experience, too. More on that in the next section.

 

How practical is the space inside?

Want a really practical small SUV? There are heaps of other options out there if you’re the sort of person who covets deep door-mount bottle holders (none here), loves a really good centre console storage box (nope), or really needs a good size boot with all seats in play (nuh-uh).

This isn’t the most practical SUV unless your idea of practicality is stowing away those rear seats (which you hardly ever use, anyway) or even removing them entirely and fitting a camping setup in the back, then tackling severe off-road tracks.

The front seats fold down entirely (Image: Matt Campbell). The front seats fold down entirely (Image: Matt Campbell).

But it’s my job to tell you the things you should, so here goes, starting with the boot.

Cargo capacity is stated at just 85 litres with all four seats in play, but that increases to 377L with the back seats folded flat. They go entirely flat, though, and there’s a nice level load space to use as well. You can get fill-in plastics to make it level, and if you shop the aftermarket you can even find bed/mattress setups so you can sleep in it - the front seats fold down entirely, too.

  • Cargo capacity is stated at just 85 litres with all four seats in play (Image: Matt Campbell). Cargo capacity is stated at just 85 litres with all four seats in play (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • Boot space increases to 377L with the back seats folded flat (Image: Matt Campbell). Boot space increases to 377L with the back seats folded flat (Image: Matt Campbell).

Also, that side-mounted tailgate means you won’t have a spot to hide in the rain, so that’s probably why you see so many Jimny models fitted with an awning on the side or at the back. Thankfully, though it is a dumb design (hey, I can criticise it, I own a JB43 and I hate the tailgate), it is light and because the body of the car is short and wide, it’s not that huge of a consideration when you park it.

If you have children, the back seat is capable of coping with two seats as there are dual ISOFIX and top-tether points. And if your kids aren’t in capsules, they might be okay with the space back there, but anyone taller than average is going to have a bad time. It’s pretty tight, and not very comfortable.

Anyone taller than average is going to have a bad time in the rear seats (Image: Matt Campbell). Anyone taller than average is going to have a bad time in the rear seats (Image: Matt Campbell).

The front seats offer good adjustment and comfort, though an armrest / console would be a nice aftermarket upgrade (you can get them with built-in USB ports - pretty neat). There are door pockets good for a magazine and that’s it, cup holders on the floor console between the seats, and not much other storage besides a small cubby in front of the shifter and another above the glovebox.

Aside from the dumped infotainment system, and the manual air-con controls, not a lot has changed between this and the more expensive version. The Bluetooth capable CD player system that’s fitted is pretty horrible to be honest, and the two-speaker sound system is not great, either. I would suggest if you are interested in a Jimmy and you do care about music quality exterior upgrade could be an easy one for this car - it’s not like the more expensive version gets a heaps better stereo - it’s the same two-speaker setup.

The stereo controls take a bit of learning in order to figure out the menus for the system, and it’s nowhere near as intuitive as a touchscreen. That’s why touchscreens became a mainstream solution. Because they’re good. At least this stereo head unit has buttons and knobs, though. 

The stereo controls take a bit of learning in order to figure out the menus for the system (Image: Matt Campbell). The stereo controls take a bit of learning in order to figure out the menus for the system (Image: Matt Campbell).

Another thing I’m not a fan of is the lack of a digital speedometer. You can’t choose one in the TFT information screen, and I hate that.

You might also want to consider that the steering wheel only has tilt adjust (no reach adjust), and it’s a hard plastic tiller, too (not leather lined) and there are hard plastic elbow pads on the doors. At least the seat fabric is soft, right?

The steering wheel only has tilt adjust (no reach adjust), and it’s a hard plastic tiller (Image: Matt Campbell). The steering wheel only has tilt adjust (no reach adjust), and it’s a hard plastic tiller (Image: Matt Campbell).

Vain? You’ll hate this car. There are no vanity mirrors at all.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Don’t go expecting to get more for less, here. It’s the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 75kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 130Nm of torque (at 4000rpm) as you get in the more expensive Jimny, but crucially, the Lite only comes as a manual.

That’s right - the five-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission option available, with the four-speed automatic gearbox reserved for the exxy model.

The Lite features a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 75kW of power and 130Nm of torque (Image: Matt Campbell). The Lite features a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 75kW of power and 130Nm of torque (Image: Matt Campbell).

Of course you also get a low-range transfer case because it’s a proper off-roader with a part-time 4WD (with 2H, 4H and 4L) system. 

Thinking about towing capacity? I mean, if you want to, you can - there’s 350kg unbraked and 1300kg braked capacity. The vehicle itself weighs just 1095kg (kerb weight) and the gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 1435kg, so be mindful that four oversized adults will put you over the limit. Lite, indeed.

How much fuel does it consume?

That sticker you see on the windscreen of new cars? That shows you the official combined cycle fuel consumption figure, which is the fuel use you should theoretically be able to achieve across a mix of driving, according to the tests run in Australian Design Rule (ADR) compliance.

That number for the 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite is 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres. It’s the same number whether you choose this Lite manual or the higher-spec manual. Emissions are 146g/km CO2.

On test, I saw a return of 7.0L/100km across a mix of on-road and off-road driving - and the official figure doesn’t consider off-roading, either.

 

What's it like as a daily driver?

Believe the hype, people. This is a fun little car to drive, and a joy to pilot around on daily trips. Heading to the shops? Jimny it. Off to the gym? Better take the Gym-ny. Geddit?

Just make sure you don’t have huge hills or lots of highway driving when you’re running those errands, because it’s not nearly as much fun when the rest of the traffic is going at higher speeds and you’re struggling to keep up.

This is a fun little car to drive, and a joy to pilot around on daily trips (Image: Matt Campbell). This is a fun little car to drive, and a joy to pilot around on daily trips (Image: Matt Campbell).

The 1.5L engine is underpowered. Climbing hills - like the one near me in the lower Blue Mountains (Lapstone Hill, for those playing along at home) - can be more of a challenge than you’d expect. I had to drop to fourth gear in order to make the climb, and as mentioned earlier in the story, I own a 2007 Jimny with a measly 1.3L, and I can make it further in fifth up the hill than I did in this new one.

Only having five gears means the engine also revs its ring off at freeway speeds, sitting at almost 4000rpm to maintain pace with the traffic. And just pray you aren’t heading out on the highway on a windy day, or planning to overtake cavalcades of semi-trailer trucks or road trains, as the Jimny is prone to being blown around on the highway. Boxy, almost anti-aerodynamic body design and a super light weight will do that.

In low-speed or urban driving the engine’s zest is fine - there’s enough grunt to get the job done and the manual shift is light and easy to manipulate, but ask more of it, and it falls short on oomph.

I’ve driven this generation of Jimny a few times since it launched and I’ve always struggled with the inconsistent waiting of the electronic power steering – it can be heavy at low speeds, especially when you just start the car, and lighter as you go faster – I would prefer it to be lighter at lower speeds and build a bit of heft the faster I went, but that just isn’t the case.

That inconsistent weighting can make for some annoyingly concrete-stirring-like moments when you’re parking it, and while these incy wincy tyres are hardly grip monsters, a set of muddies could make things all the more annoying.

The suspension is another thing that you’ll either be okay with, or not. Having rigid axles front and rear with coil springs, it’s hardly going to find itself in the thesaurus when you look up “refined”.

The ride can be wobbly and can also clunk and thump over bumps as well – that’s just the price you have to pay for the capability that you get off road.

What's it like for touring?

With the $1500 you’re saving by choosing the Lite model, go get yourself a set of decent all-terrain tyres if you want to hit the hardcore tracks.

  • The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell). The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell). The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell). The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell). The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell). The off-road drive impressions are pretty promising (Image: Matt Campbell).

The 195/80/15 Bridgestone Dueler H/T rubber on the Jimny Lite is the same as you get on the expensive model, and it also exhibits the same shortcomings.

Look, those tyres are fine for mild off-road driving, and we’ve said it before - a set of BF Goodrich A/Ts would take this thing from being just another rooster to the king cockerel in the chook yard. It would certainly allow you to explore the potential of this vehicle even more.

But the off-road drive impressions, as you’d expect, are still pretty promising. The shift between high- and low-range is very simple - just push down on the lever in Neutral and you’re good to go. 

The ground clearance is 210mm, high enough off the ground to deal with big lumps in the road or ruts on the track (Image: Matt Campbell). The ground clearance is 210mm, high enough off the ground to deal with big lumps in the road or ruts on the track (Image: Matt Campbell).

If things get steep and gnarly, there’s a hill descent control system that can take a little bit of getting used to, though the low-range gearing is aggressive enough that you may not even need it, depending on your experience. As Crafty put it in his earlier Adventure reviews of the Jimny, “in low-range first gear, it’s nearly unstoppable”. It creeps up hills without stress or strain.

And when it comes to the angles, the Jimny is a good’n. The approach angle is 37 degrees, breakover / rampover angle is 28 degrees, and departure angle is 49 degrees - so running up craggy rocky sections is easier than you might think, so long as you don’t find yourself dipping too far either left or right.

When it comes to the angles, the Jimny is a good’n (Image: Matt Campbell). When it comes to the angles, the Jimny is a good’n (Image: Matt Campbell).

The ground clearance is 210mm, high enough off the ground to deal with big lumps in the road or ruts on the track, and the wheel articulation is impressive, meaning you can traverse lumpy tracks with wheels mostly staying in touch with the ground below.

There is some axle lift at times and that’s to be expected of a vehicle with a wheelbase this short. But like I said, it is a little bit tipsy feeling, and I would be just cautious in driving in very loose-surface situations as it doesn’t offer the driver huge levels of confidence, especially with the OEM tyres.

Be aware if you’re planning a long distance drive, too, that the 40-litre tank will see you through about 570km based on the on test fuel consumption I saw. A jerry can could be another good investment.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Okay, here it is. The Suzuki Jimny has a three-star ANCAP crash test safety score, a full two stars short of the maximum rating. It scored three stars against 2018 testing criteria, too, which means if it were re-assessed today… it’d likely be an even worse result.

There are some advanced safety items that - thankfully - haven’t been removed for the Lite version of the Jimny, including the auto emergency braking (AEB) system that works at 15km/h to 100km/h, and there’s daytime pedestrian detection (operable at 15km/h to 60km/h), and lane departure warning that works from 60km/h to 140km/h. 

There’s traction and stability control, hill hold control and hill descent control, and you get auto high-beam lights, too. 

But here’s a list of stuff missing from the advanced safety arsenal of the Jimny: active lane keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, higher-speed AEB, rear AEB, speed sign recognition, and plenty more.

And in the Lite version of the Jimny, you also miss out on a reversing camera. No parking sensors, either.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Buy a new Jimny and you get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. That’s about what you’d expect in this day and age. Thinking of running your Jimny as a delivery truck or doing Uber / Uber Eats or any other commercial work with it? Just be aware that the warranty is five years/160,000km in that instance.

  • Buy a new Jimny and you get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Matt Campbell). Buy a new Jimny and you get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Matt Campbell).
  • Buy a new Jimny and you get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Matt Campbell). Buy a new Jimny and you get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Matt Campbell).

Servicing is covered by a five-year plan/100,000km plan. But weirdly, Suzuki also states the service costs for longer than that.

The intervals are 12 months/15,000km per service, and the costs are as follows: $329, $329, $429, $329, $239, $519 - yep, that last one is for the 90,000km interval, but for “vehicle less than 60 months old”. To complicate things further, earlier versions of the Jimny in this generation were due for service every six months/10,000km. Confused? Ask the dealer. 

Roadside assist is contingent on you servicing your Suzuki with the brand’s workshops, and if you do, it’ll span five years.

If you find one in stock and you’re wondering whether you should buy the Jimny Lite rather than wait 8-14 months for a higher-spec one, I’d say do it.

It’s a bit cheaper, and feels a bit cheaper, too, but the money you save on it could be well spent on choice upgrades to make it even better than it is.

Look, it’s not going to be for everyone, but for the Jimny lovers out there like me, this is a fun and capable compact 4x4. Not perfect. Far from it, in fact. But fun.

$26,990

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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