‘It’s the anti-car.”
So said one owner of the previous-generation Jimny when we got chatting about this latest model.
He’s got a point. While so many new vehicles go out of the way to embody a certain lifestyle while trying to meet everyone’s needs, the Jimny is a car designed to fulfill a particular brief, even if that means making sacrifices.
It’s not a family hatchback packed with the latest tech. Despite its diminutive size, it’s not a car for nipping round the city and it’s certainly not a car for long motorway miles.
Suzuki Jimny SZ5
Price: £17,999 (£18,649 as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 90mph
0-62mph: 14.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 178g/km
The last-gen car was cramped, noisy, slow and wobbly and although it’s completely new the latest model doesn’t quite get away from these issues.
It’s a big improvement over the old one – the ride is smoother, the cabin quieter and the all-new 1.5-litre engine is more refined, cleaner and more economical. But it’s still not a match for most modern compact SUVs. It still leans a heap in corners, has slack steering, is susceptible to crosswinds and takes an age to get to 60mph.
Yet it’s impossible not to love the Jimny. It has something that so few modern cars have – character. Partly that’s thanks to its Tonka toy styling and partly it’s to do with its honest, simple nature.
Once you accept that it has limitations you settle into a happy day-to-day life with the Jimny, taking a more easygoing approach and revelling in what it is good at. Visibility is great thanks to its height, square shape and large glass areas. Its tiny wheelbase makes it easy to shuffle around and slot into tiny parking spaces. And should you need to venture off the beaten track there is nothing within £30,000 that will keep up with it.
It’s also a lot more hi-tech than what came before. There’s a seven-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and voice control on the higher SZ5 trim, although there’s nothing fancy like keyless entry.
It’s not much bigger, though. Front space is just about acceptable and rear space and access are perhaps a modicum better but the Jimny is still comically small and the rear seats are tiny and uncomfy. The boot, too, is laughably small (113 litres) but give up on the rear seats, fold them down and you’ve got space for your shopping and a couple of collies.
So yes, it is the anti-car. While a lot of cars aim to be jacks of all trades, the Jimny doesn’t compromise on its purpose, although that does mean making other compromises as an owner.
But it’s hard not to like. It’s fun, tough and unique in today’s market.
The owner of the last-gen car admitted that even after six years of ownership the Jimny still put a smile on his face every day and I can imagine that being just as true of the new one.