The Suzuki Jimny May Be Exactly What We Need!

2018 (or newer) Suzuki Jimny

I recently took a trip to Cuba and I was looking forward to the old American iron that has become so famous on the roads there. What I wasn’t prepared for was to fall hopelessly in love with a little Suzuki 4×4 called a Jimny (not a typo, that’s how it’s spelled). While in Cuba we opted to take an all day “Jeep” 4×4 tour. I was nearly certain we wouldn’t be driving actual Jeeps given the long standing relationship between the US and Cuba.  What then, would we be driving? Imagine my surprise when I was introduced to the little Suzuki. I was blown away by how great this vehicle was. I spent all day driving the Jimny all over our little corner of Cuba and I have to say, it was incredible! I was impressed by the nature of this wonderful little runabout. As I put miles behind me I became obsessed with the idea that a vehicle like the Jimny is exactly what we need in North America. 

Power & Performance

The Jimny comes with a 1.5L engine producing a wonderfully charming 101hp. It will do 0-60mph in whatever time it likes which works just fine for me. I will admit 101hp isn’t a lot but in a little car like this that isn’t built for speed it was more than sufficient.  I can’t say as I drove faster than 80kph and it did that without struggle or challenge.

The Jimny came as a manual and I was so thrilled I cried. After wiping up my tears I spent a whole day slamming the vehicle through one gear after another and enjoying every change. It shifted smooth and didn’t suffer for its apparent lack of power. It chugged down any road I pointed it at and put a huge smile on my face.

We didn’t have occasion on the tour to really go off-roading so I can’t comment on the performance of the 4 wheel drive system but I can tell you it has a proper low range gearbox and would handle the rough stuff with dignity.  I believe this because I want it to be true. It has to be.

Exterior

The Jimny immediately reminded me of the old Suzuki Samurai you used to be able to buy in North America. The reason for this is the older versions of the Jimny were the Samurai from years gone by. As crash, emissions and safety standards evolved and became more stringent Suzuki opted to withdraw the vehicle from sale rather than incur the expense of a redesign. In markets like Cuba I assume standards are less stringent and the Jimny has lived on. 

The simple square design on the Jimny bears a resemblance to the 2-door Jeep Wrangler among other square design vehicles. It is a handsome little brute and this most current generation is a real winner.

Interior

The interior of the Jimny is something we don’t see much of anymore. It’s simple. It doesn’t feel cheap or made with poor quality materials by any means, but it lacks the endless list of bells and whistles we see on most modern cars on offer in North America. It had a steering wheel, power windows, AC and a few buttons for traction control. That’s it. And if we’re honest with ourselves (I know it’s difficult but work with me) it has everything we need. It was a reminder that we don’t need ten touch control screens with face scanning tech on every part of the dash.

I had my wife and 2 kids (11 & 13) with me in the Jimny and all four of us were comfortable.  We had sufficient room inside the car and even the backseats were of a decent size. Not sure I’d want to sit back there all day but the kids loved it.  Visibility was also good as the windscreen and plentiful windows give you good visibility.

Access to the rear seats is actually okay. I’ve seen easier access but the kids can scamper in and it was easier for them to get into the back seat of the Jimny than our old Wrangler back home. I didn’t crack my head open on my way into the car which means I didn’t bleed out and die in the parking lot so that’s a win as well.

Try as I might I couldn’t find a Cuban radio station anywhere on the dial but I did manage to steal a little signal from some Miami stations. Aside from that the Jimny actually has Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to what you like as you have a wonderful driving experience. This is forward thinking. Bluetooth is one of the few modern conveniences I will not live without and Suzuki was wise enough to include it on the Jimny.

Quality

The Jimny is not sophisticated but it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s a simple car (noticing a theme?) that’s made well and designed to satisfy a clear purpose. This one had done around 48,000kms and felt tight and most of the bits and pieces were still attached despite the efforts of the Cuban roads to reduce it to a pile of spare parts. I was very impressed with the build quality of the Jimny.

CQI – 1. Worst carpet I’ve ever seen in a car. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s not carpet. It’s mostly a very cheap (albeit durable) piece of fiberglass or something I can’t identify. I knew I’d find something I didn’t love about this thing.

Value

The best new vehicle pricing I could find for the Jimny was in Australian Dollars so I’ll use that as a baseline. The Jimny starts at $27,000 AUD and tops out around $32,000 AUD.  This would land it as one of the cheapest new cars you could buy in North America. When you factor in what you get for your money it really does represent good value. I would insist on a carpet upgrade but beyond that you could sell it as is. You can have a brand new, fully capable little 4×4 for the price of a base model Civic or Corolla.

Final Thoughts

The 2018 (I think it’s an ’18 but I’m not sure) Suzuki Jimny poses us a question. Is there a market for a basic, small, affordable, capable, good looking 4×4 that can go bush bashing on the weekends and run all over downtown all week long? Would we be willing to accept what it doesn’t have in exchange for what it gives us? Does everyone demand laser/radar guided cruise control and a sensor for every function on the car? I don’t actually know the answer to that question as cars double as status symbols for a lot of people and the Jimny has no pretensions about it whatsoever. It’s just an honest proposition. I do know this. Should they ever sell it, or something like it, in North America. I’m customer #1. 

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