DRIVEN ➤ Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 AWD

12 Apr

By Wayne Gorrett

It received a light cosmetic makeover for 2013, but while the
third-generation Jimny remains dated, the dinky but rugged Suzuki offers world-proven off-road capability – a car for bruising, not for cruising.

003 Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4, Press loan wc 15.02.2013

We took a shining to….
* Enormous fun to drive * Cute, dinky looks * Great price-point to enter 4×4 lifestyle *
* Tough, fuss-free interior * Willing engine * Proven off-road ability *

…but noted that…
* Still no diesel option * Poor on-road driving dynamics * Lacks safety kit *
* High emissions * Dated throughout * Rear seats space inadequate * - Jimny 40th Anniversary

But still, if ever there was a car that perhaps attracted more criticism, bordering on condemnation – and doesn’t have ‘Multipla’ somewhere in its name – it’ll be the Jimny, Suzuki’s diminutive 4×4 off-roader.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 013          waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 016

Suzuki has been making small, sturdy and capable 4x4s for many years. The Suzuki Jimny celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The little 4×4 combines rear-wheel drive (remember that?), chunky looks and off-road ability with city car dimensions. The cute but dated 3-door design will be familiar to most, as the car has been around since 1998.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 025          waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 029

Surprisingly, there’s still no diesel option and only the one previous engine is available – an 85bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol unit. On-road, it needs working to achieve reasonable progress. At speeds over 60mph with the rpm reading 3,800, the willing but inefficient engine is noisy, gruff and harsh, rendering cabin conversation difficult.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 008

 The Jimny has three drivetrain settings, conveniently changed at the push of a button:

* 2WD for normal on-road use with all engine torque going to the rear wheels.
* 4WD apportions equal torque to both front and rear wheels for normal off-road conditions or driving on excessively wet or snowy surfaces.
* 4WD-L engages low-ratio gears for maximum, true off-road performance when needed.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 022      waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 026

Buyers can choose from two trim levels, SZ3 and SZ4, although neither has an especially long inventory. The former has ABS with brake-assist, only two front airbags, CD-tuner, lockable cubby, electrically-heated and adjustable door mirrors, remote central locking, immobiliser, fog lamps, black roof rails, 15” steel wheels and a hard external spare wheel cover.

SZ4 adds faux-leather seats with Jimny logo, manual air conditioning, leather steering wheel, 15” alloy wheels and rear privacy glass, plus body-coloured door handles and spare wheel cover. And that’s pretty much your lot.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 028          waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 021

We trundled the Jimny along several official ‘green lanes’ around Hampshire and as expected, it performed exceptionally well and its low-ratio ‘box is a gem to use with confidence. It’s off-road capability is unquestionable as the dozens of YouTube videos of the Jimny in action around the world, will attest.

(With acknowledgement and grateful thanks to our friends at )

However, compared with an average modern car, the Jimny’s on-road driving dynamics are well below par. The steering is unnervingly light, is late to react and has too much play at the dead-ahead. In an urban environment the ride is poor and the car feels agitated on even slightly imperfect road surfaces. When you do eventually get up some speed – 62mph arrives in a narcoleptic 14.1 seconds – the ride doesn’t get any better. Due to the Jimny’s tall, narrow body and short wheelbase, the ride is ‘buoyant’ through dips and over crests, with excessive body lean. Coupled with vague and dull steering, it inhibits confidence to take sweeping corners with any degree of sure-footedness.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 014       waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 011

However, these are well-documented issues with the Jimny and buyers are usually well aware of its idiosyncratic shortcomings.

Off-road is where the Jimny feels truly at home and its well-engineered infrastructure comes into play. There’s an excellent 190mm of ground clearance that will tackle most landscapes. Short overhangs provide confident angles of approach (34deg), ramp-breakover (31deg) and departure (46deg). Braked towing capacity is an impressive 1,300kg.

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny

The Jimny appeals to a broad, international user base. Like Land Rover’s Defender, updating such a popular car can be a serious head-scratcher: Complete and total change will drive away loyal owners or do you continue to conservatively tweak a proven formula to keep the waters calm?

waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 023          waynesworldautobloguk Suzuki Jimny 015

The recent updates to the MY2013 Jimny are entirely cosmetic with its solid mechanical base remaining unchanged. As such, the Suzuki faithful can breathe a sigh of relief. Its maker has done well to resist radical change to key elements of the car and its off-road performance adequately demonstrates the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ maxim.


However, the day looms large when the bullet will need to be bitten and an all-new replacement will need to be developed. Sources at Suzuki UK inferred that this is already under way.

So while the car is cute and fun, it can’t disguise its age and limited everyday practicality. It is outclassed by 4×4 versions of the Nissan Juke, Fiat Panda, Skoda Yeti and even the SsangYong Korando but none of those can beat the Suzuki stalwart on price. That torch has now been passed to the UK’s new upstart, the Dacia Duster AWD in ‘Access’ guise.

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Fast Facts – Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4
Recommended retail price of model tested > £13,295.
Suzuki Jimny price range > From £11,995 to £14,195.
Power / Torque > 85bhp (63kW) @ 6,000rpm / 110Nm (81lb.ft) @ 4,100rpm.
Top speed > 87mph.
Load capacity to window line > Row 2 up: 113 litres > Row 2 down: 324 litres.
Acceleration > 0-62mph in 14.1 seconds.
Fuel tank > 40.0 litres (8.8 gallons).
Fuel economy (combined) > Official 39.8mpg / Tested (270 miles): 30.6mpg (77%).
Full tank range > Official 351 miles, tested 270 miles.
CO2 Emissions > Class Euro V: 162g/km
VED Band ‘G’ / Current cost £170 first year, £170 thereafter.
Euro NCAP rating > No results available.
Insurance group model tested > 15D.
Warranty > 3yr / 60,000 miles, 6yr anti-corrosion.

Also consider
* Fiat’s 4×4 Panda would be the closest comparable * Dacia Duster * Suzuki SX4 *


With 40 years of Suzuki heritage and engineering, it’s easy to see why the Jimny is one of the most loveable compact 4×4’s on the road today. It enjoys a cult following largely due to its genuine off-road capability thanks to the low-ratio gearbox. It’s negatives – and there are quite a few – are real and tangible. But if you’re looking for a genuine off-roader that defies electronically-assisted modernity and are willing to accept – or at least overlook – its failings, then the Jimny is for you.

I drive dozens of cars every year…most have made me grin, some have made me smile and heck, one or two have even raised a grimace. So far, only this one has made me laugh out loud for the sheer fun of driving it.


Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Driven


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2 responses to “DRIVEN ➤ Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 AWD

  1. Wayne's World Auto

    October 11, 2014 at 09:33

    The little Jimny does tend to have that effect on people. It’s always been a major ‘want’ for me.


  2. deryck

    October 10, 2014 at 23:05

    I’ve been driving for more than 40 years and the Jimny (soft top) l bought four years ago is the best car I’ve ever owned. Critics pan it, owners love it and every time I come back to it in a car park I grin.



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