BIG ON HEART - Suzuki Jimny

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It’s been a long time coming, but Suzuki has finally unveiled their all-new Jimny in South Africa.

Launched at the recent SA Festival of Motoring at Kyalami, the new Jimny joins Suzuki’s local assault which includes new compact offerings like the Swift, Dzire and the popular Ignis.

The new Jimny replaces an aging yet still competent model that has been in the market for 20 years, but still retains its supreme off-road ability and compact, functional nature. And with that, South Africa will get three models of the new Jimny, the entry-level GA manual, and the GLX available with either a manual or automatic transmission.

The retro-looking Jimny looks more chiselled than its predecessor, with sharper lines, and a boxier overall profile. While it does retain the familiar boxy shape, the front fascia is a far cry from its predecessor with a look that’s reminiscent of a Mercedes G63 or a Jeep Wrangler. The signature flared wheel arches are still there, showing that Suzuki has retained the hardcore off-road character of the Jimny. The front grille is also more upright than the previous generations and has a five-slat design. Other noticeable changes over its predecessor are the round projector headlamps, and LED lighting. Both variants get new moulded bumpers which allow for good approach / departure angles, as well as a tailgate-mounted spare wheel in typical Jimny fashion.

While its exterior retains its retro looks, there is a twist of modernity on the interior, whilst still retaining the utilitarian nature of the original Jimny. In what is the most spacious Jimny ever, Suzuki engineers have designed the interior around comfort and practicality. Front occupants have 30mm more legroom than before and the rear passengers have 40mm more space and a higher hip point, for greater comfort. More important is the reasoning behind the design of the front seats, where the designers lowered the seat bolsters. This was done to allow comfortable shoulder movement when the driver and front passenger want to look around and behind them, for instance when they navigate a tricky obstacle when off-roading.

Apart from multiple storage bins, the range-topping GLX variant gains a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen system. This large touch screen is fitted with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirror Link to accommodate most smartphones’ in-car features and voice control functionality available in the market today. The ergonomic nature of the interior no doubt draws inspiration from other Suzuki models like the Swift and Ignis.

Gone is the 1.3-litre petrol engine that powers the third-generation Jimny. In its place is a new 1.5-litre petrol motor that is said to be 15% lighter, and significantly more economical than the motor it replaces. The new K15B boasts more power than the old M13A, with 75kw and 130nm trouncing its predecessor’s 63kw and 110nm output. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and an optional four-speed automatic gearbox in GLX specification.

Standard on all new Jimny models is Suzuki’s trademark AllGrip Pro 4x4 system. The system allows the driver to comfortably switch between 4x2 (rear-wheel drive), 4x4 high and 4x4 low range with a secondary gear lever. This system is supported by both the vehicle stability control (ESP) and a new Brake-enabled Limited Slip Differential system, and further enhanced by the integrated Hill Hold Function and Hill Descent Control. Interestingly, the diminutive off-roader’s wheelbase is unchanged at 2250mm, however it is 45mm wider, yet 50mm shorter. It does however boast a 40mm wider front and rear track, which increases stability on and off-road.

A ladder frame configuration and an “X” member between the two rigid axle’s amount to 1.5 times the torsional rigidity of its predecessor, and together with the three-link rigid suspension no doubt combine to once again give it impressive off-road abilities. Lastly, the new design has enabled Suzuki’s engineers to improve on the Jimny’s already legendary off-road curriculum vitae. Apart from having 210 mm of ground clearance - 20 mm more than before - the Jimny’s approach angle has improved from 35 degrees to 37 degrees, the break over angle is up to 28 degrees from 27 degrees and the departure angle has improved significantly from 46 degrees to 49 degrees.

As expected, specification level on the GA is comprehensive. Together with the latest safety tech in the form of ABS, BAS, ESP, ISOFIX seat anchors, and dual front airbags, it also comes with a rear mounted full-sized steel spare wheel. The GLX takes things up a notch, and combines everything the GA offers, but adds a leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel with cruise control, electric windows, colour-coded handles and side mirrors, 15-inch alloy wheels and remote keyless access. Further differentiating the GLX from the GA are LED projector headlights, front fog lights and a central mounted 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The Jimny is only expected to go on sale from the 1st of November 2018, and because of erratic exchange rates, it’s been a bit tricky for Suzuki SA to lock down a price. That said, the automaker has given us indicative pricing, and this includes a service plan and mechanical warranty.

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GA Manual: R265  000 (estimated)

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Manual: R300  000 (estimated)

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 4x4 GLX Auto: R320  000 (estimated)

Final pricing will be released closer to its local introduction.

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