25 August 2017

Is the Suzuki Jimny set to bring miniature off-roaders back?

By Tom WhiteTom White

Remember miniature off-roaders? Damn they were fun.

These days though, cars like the Suzuki Jimny and Daihatsu Feroza are getting rarer and rarer, and I cant even name a two-door offroader on sale in Australia right now that's had a fresh iteration in the last five years.

It's a shame, because these little inexpensive 4WDs, with tiny engines, manual gearboxes complete with low-range seem like they should be more than just a passing fad from the late '80s and early '90s.

To this day you still see a few examples of the most recent Jimny being thrashed around a 4WD friendly beach, covered in aftermarket kit & sand. Sometimes you see them at campsites, surrounded by off-roading folk peering around their Pajeros and Defenders, wondering how a piddly 1.6- or 1.3-litre two-door managed to match their prowess.

Good news though. Theres a new Jimny on the way!

Some drag co-efficient engineer will probably die for every one of these sold. (image credit: Automedia) Some drag co-efficient engineer will probably die for every one of these sold. (image credit: Automedia)

Look at all the square lines! If you think it looks a little Jeep-via-Benz-G-wagen-esque you're wrong, it looks HopeStar ON360-esque. That's the great grandaddy of Suzuki and Mitsubishi off-roaders to you.

The beginning of the Suzuki off-road legend, the HopeStar ON360. The beginning of the Suzuki off-road legend, the HopeStar ON360.

The little truck didn't sell well in 1968, but its underpinning designs were sold to Suzuki and it became the 360cc kei-car LJ10 - The first-generation Jimny.

The SJ20 was the first Suzuki Jimny to get traction in export markets. The SJ20 was the first Suzuki Jimny to get traction in export markets.

That car evolved into the 797cc (31kW) SJ20 for export markets. It built Suzuki's legend as manufacturer of tough and practical little cars. Note the new car's styling matching the SJ20's window lines, indicator & fog lights on the outside of the headlights, grille and seperated front bumper. To go with such a retro off-road design seems very Toyota FJ-Cruiser of them.

More than a few Swift components in here. (image credit: Automedia) More than a few Swift components in here. (image credit: Automedia)

What else can we see from the leaked pics? The interior is looking very much like the latest generation Swift, and sadly this example from a presentation slide has an automatic gearbox. The company has gone on record saying the latest iteration will maintain it's offroad ability, so here's hoping for a manual with low-range. We're fans of the rugged square-housings for the dial cluster.

No off-roader is compete without a door-mounted spare. I'm looking at you Land Rover Discovery... (image creidt: Automedia) No off-roader is compete without a door-mounted spare. I'm looking at you Land Rover Discovery... (image creidt: Automedia)

Round the back, theres a full-size door-mounted spare, to ram home that this isn't just any small-SUV, also providing a final nod to the SJ20.

The fun colour schemes are looking very retro-classic. (image credit: Automedia) The fun colour schemes are looking very retro-classic. (image credit: Automedia)

It would appear from the last slide that there's a few, fun looking, variants of the upcoming off-roader. Grey alloys make a comeback on what appears to be upper-spec variants. We're not sure what's going on with bottom-left, but it looks fun - in a kind of goofy, colourful, FJ-Cruiser way.

What do you think of the new Jimny? Should the age of fun little offroaders make a comeback? Tell us what you think in the comments.