Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Suzuki Jimny 2020 review: manual: off-road test

The Suzuki Jimny needs no introduction.

This small, go-anywhere fun machine captured people's hearts, minds and cash when it arrived here rebooted last year and since then demand for them has been so high, some people are still waiting for their new Zook. Patience is apparently the name of the game, but Suzuki Australia is reportedly working hard to clear its backlog of orders.

Worth noting though is the fact that a new Jimny, manual or auto, now costs $2000 more than it did in 2019, because of two $1000 price rises: one in October 2019 (with the introduction of the company's five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and annual capped-price servicing plans); and one in January 2020 (with the addition of electrically-adjustable wing mirrors to all new 2020 Jimnys).

So, with this price increase in mind, is the Jimny still worth your consideration? Read on.

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

The Jimny now has a MSRP of $25,990 (five-speed manual), and $27,990 (four-speed auto)

Suzuki is not offering driveaway pricing on the Jimny. Metallic paint is $695 and two-tone paint is $1295.

As standard the Jimny gets auto emergency braking (AEB), a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image: Dean McCartney) As standard the Jimny gets auto emergency braking (AEB), a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image: Dean McCartney)

Our test vehicle is a manual and was registered as a press vehicle before the introduction of electrically-adjustable wing mirrors. It has the exterior two-tone paint: Kinetic Yellow + Bluish Black Pearl.

As standard the Jimny gets auto emergency braking (AEB), a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, GPS sat nav, a reversing camera, single-zone climate control air-conditioning, and two ISOFIX child-seat attachment points in the back seat.

There's also LED headlights (with auto high beams) and 15-inch alloy wheels (with a full-size rear-mounted spare)

There’s also LED headlights (with auto high beams). (image: Dean McCartney) There’s also LED headlights (with auto high beams). (image: Dean McCartney)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Jimny is one of those vehicles that everyone gawks at – whether they like it or loathe it, their eyes are drawn to it.

Its appearance garners similar responses as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: either head-turning wide-eyed admiration, or smirking grimaces.

Look at it. What do you reckon?

  • The Suzuki Jimny is one of those vehicles that always attracts plenty of attention – mostly good. (image: Dean McCartney) The Suzuki Jimny is one of those vehicles that always attracts plenty of attention – mostly good. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • The Jimny is one of those vehicles that everyone gawks at. (image: Dean McCartney) The Jimny is one of those vehicles that everyone gawks at. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Its appearance garners similar responses as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. (image: Dean McCartney) Its appearance garners similar responses as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • The Jimny is a top-notch off-roader in its own right: it’s easy to drive in the bush or on a beach. (image: Dean McCartney) The Jimny is a top-notch off-roader in its own right: it’s easy to drive in the bush or on a beach. (image: Dean McCartney)

How practical is the space inside?

Nothing has changed in terms of dimensions or interior features so the Jimny's cabin is still a squeezy space, but it's practical.

Fabric seats, durable plastic surfaces, and rubber mats are all ready for action, in line with the underlying Jimny adventure principle, but storage options are few and far between.

There's a shallow glovebox, a thin open recess above it for stuff, a small bin for keys etc in front of the shifter, two cup-holders, and a narrow hard-plastic door pocket on the two front doors.

Nothing has changed in terms of dimensions or interior features so the Jimny’s cabin is still a squeezy space. (image: Dean McCartney) Nothing has changed in terms of dimensions or interior features so the Jimny’s cabin is still a squeezy space. (image: Dean McCartney)

The driver gets steering-wheel-mounted controls for the entertainment system, cruise control etc. 

The centre console is a hub of controls – for front power windows, hill descent and traction control – and there's a USB and 12V power point here as well. (There's a 12V socket in the cargo area.)

Everyone gets an over-door grab handle, except the driver. The front-seat passenger also gets another solid grab handle, this one mounted above the glove box.

The Jimny is ideally a weekend tourer for two people; it is definitely not a long-distance tourer for four. (image: Dean McCartney) The Jimny is ideally a weekend tourer for two people; it is definitely not a long-distance tourer for four. (image: Dean McCartney)

With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA. That equates to an off-roading first-aid kit, three small daypacks and not much else.

If you drop those 50:50 seats, the entire cargo area is 830 litres VDA; it's 377 litres if you only pack to the window sills.

So, do your own reasoning and you'll come to the same conclusion as me: the Jimny is ideally a weekend tourer for two people; it is definitely not a long-distance tourer for four.

  • With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA. (image: Dean McCartney) With all seats in use, the rear cargo area is rather cramped, measuring 85 litres VDA. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • If you drop those 50:50 seats, the entire cargo area is 830 litres VDA; it’s 377 litres if you only pack to the window sills. (image: Dean McCartney) If you drop those 50:50 seats, the entire cargo area is 830 litres VDA; it’s 377 litres if you only pack to the window sills. (image: Dean McCartney)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Jimny has a 1.5-litre petrol engine – producing a minuscule 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm – but the Jimny is so light at a listed 1095kg (kerb weight, manual) that the power and torque generated are adequate to nudge along the little Zook. It does, however, feel like it would benefit from more – and it'd be even more fun when you get it onto the rough stuff.

The Jimny has a part-time 4WD system and AllGrip Pro which umbrellas traction control, hill descent control, hill hold assist and more.

The Jimny has a 1.5-litre petrol engine – producing a minuscule 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm. (image: Dean McCartney) The Jimny has a 1.5-litre petrol engine – producing a minuscule 75kW@6000rpm and 130Nm@4000rpm. (image: Dean McCartney)

What's it like as a daily driver?

Pretty good. The Jimny is 3645mm long (with a 2250mm wheelbase), 1645mm wide and 1725mm high. It has a listed kerb weight of 1095kg.

Its diminutive dimensions make it very easy to steer around town and it's punchy enough off the mark in stop-start driving because it's so light.

On-road ride and handling remain surprising, considering its lack of power and size, but it's not atrocious as some might assume.

It comes with 15-inch alloy wheels. (image: Dean McCartney) It comes with 15-inch alloy wheels. (image: Dean McCartney)

Ride is quite firm, tending towards jittery via a light tall body on a ladder frame chassis and coil springs.

It's on 15-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts (195/80R15).

On the highway it does feel underpowered and vulnerable – wind gusts and big trucks easily rattle it – but if you're ready for that, then it's no problem. And you should be ready for that because the Jimny is obviously small.

In terms off comfort, seats all-round are more firm than spongy-comfy but they're okay.

What's it like for touring?

Damn good and it's a lot of fun.

On the dirt track leading to our 4WD proving and testing ground, deeper, more pronounced corrugations shook the Jimny off its straight-line game but, again, that sort of bump-steering isn't a deal-breaker if you're prepared for it.

Anyway, it's what happens next that matters most: when you stop and shift it into 4L (4WD low-range), this light little robust off-roader finds its very own dirt nirvana.

Its modest measurements, detailed higher up the page, make it a supremely manoeuvrable bush-adventure machine, because it's that compact size that helps to give the Jimny impressive approach, departure and ramp break-over angles of 37 degrees, 49 degrees, and 28 degrees respectively.

Fabric seats, durable plastic surfaces, and rubber mats are all ready for action. (image: Dean McCartney) Fabric seats, durable plastic surfaces, and rubber mats are all ready for action. (image: Dean McCartney)

The Jimny is a real point-and-drive 4WD, with plenty of visibility and a wheel at each corner so the driver always has a distinct sense of being dialled-into the terrain. Put it this way: it's easy to know where your tyres are at any time, and you always have a smile on your face when you're 4WDing in the Jimny.

It doesn't have diff locks, but it does have good low-range gearing and a very effective traction control system.

We dropped tyre pressures to 18psi in order to tackle some brief patches of sand, a small mudhole and a series of short steep dirt hills as well as a very steep rocky climb that I've seen modified 4WDs try, fail and then use an easier alternative route.

You have to give the Jimny plenty of throttle, keeping the revs up and wheels spinning in order for that traction control to engage.

Some aspects of the Jimny's behaviour may annoy those who aren't so used to its quirks, such as hill descent control is patchy, sometimes aggressive at 'biting' or it disengages abruptly¦ and the fact it's a wild bouncy ol' ride inside the Jimny during low-speed, low-range 4WDing – but that's fun, I reckon).

One thing's for sure though: the Jimny's standard road tyres are far from ideal for 4WDing. It has a full-sized spare wheel mounted on the rear door.

The centre console is a hub of controls. (image: Dean McCartney) The centre console is a hub of controls. (image: Dean McCartney)

The Jimny has reasonable – not great – wheel travel.

Ground clearance is listed as 210mm but, even though it has such a short wheelbase and feels like it could climb over anything, we scraped the belly a few times traversing more severe off-road terrain.

Wading depth is not listed but the air intake is quite high in the engine bay so you should be right with shallow water crossings.

Be aware: the Jimny's light weight and small size, which make it so much fun around town and in the bush, make it vulnerable when 4WDing to abrupt changes in gradient, any dramatic shift in onboard loads, and even wind gusts on exposed slopes.

But replace the Jimny's road rubber with some top-quality all-terrain tyres and perhaps even lift the whole thing two inches, and you're well on your way to making it an even more appealing and capable off-roader.

For the record, towing capacity is a claimed 350kg (unbraked) and 1300kg (braked). It has a GVM of 1435kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption for the manual Jimny is listed as 6.4L/100km (combined).

We recorded ?.?L/100km on test and that included a lot of low-range 4WDing.

It has a 40-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Jimny has a three-star ANCAP safety rating, issued in January 2019. 

It has six airbags (dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags), AEB, lane departure warning, weaving alert, hill descent control and more.

All three grades of autonomous emergency braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User) and lane departure warning (LDW) are standard on all variants.

It has a full-size rear-mounted spare. (image: Dean McCartney) It has a full-size rear-mounted spare. (image: Dean McCartney)

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

The Jimny has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, rather than the previous five-year / 140,000km warranty.

Service intervals are scheduled for every 12months/15,000km and cost an average of $331 for a total of $1655 over five years.

The Jimny is a top-notch off-roader in its own right: it's easy to drive in the bush or on a beach.

In fact, it's so much fun to drive off-road, the act of doing just that should be illegal. Joking. (Or am I?)

Its only real rivals, in terms of being able to go straight from the car yard and into hard-core 4WD territory are the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Land Rover Defender and Toyota 70 Series.

The Jimny is not terrible to drive on-road, but it's far from the most practical vehicle around, or the most comfortable, and it's lagging behind others in the safety stakes – but its the sheer fun factor of driving it off-road that is undeniable.

And it's that element of fun, of dialled-in driver joy, when you're 4WDing in the Jimny that will keep people wanting more of it.

$24,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.3/5

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'

Price Guide

$24,990

Based on new car retail price