Review

Suzuki Jimny SUV

Price  £12,195 - £14,545

Suzuki Jimny SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Affordable and cheap to run
  • Capable off-road
  • Tough interior
Cons
  • Outdated
  • Cramped cabin
  • Uncomfortable on the motorway

At a glance

The greenest
1.3 SZ3 3dr £12,195
The cheapest
1.3 SZ3 3dr £12,195
The fastest
1.3 SZ3 3dr £12,195
Top of the range
1.3 SZ4 Auto 3dr £14,545

"Cheap, cheerful and tough, the Suzuki Jimny is one of the UK's smallest 4x4s."

The Suzuki Jimny is more than a decade old and something of a rarity on UK roads, but it's still a cheap and cheerful 4x4 that's extremely capable off-road. Its compact dimensions, durability and four-wheel drive combine with a low-ratio gearbox specifically designed for off-roading to make it surprisingly effective in the mud. There's only one engine available, an 84bhp 1.3-litre petrol that needs to be worked pretty hard to get any real performance out of it.

The Jimny has been in production since 1998 and that does show, as on-road comfort, engine performance and interior space lag far behind more modern rivals such as the Fiat Panda 4x4, Nissan Juke and Vauxhall Mokka. The Suzuki Jimny comes in two main specifications: the entry-level SZ3 and top-of-the-range SZ4.

MPG, running costs & CO2

2 / 5

Its engine is thirsty and CO2 emissions are high

Buying a car that's been on sale for more than a decade means you'll have to put with poor efficiency figures. When paired with a manual gearbox, the Jimny returns fuel economy of 39.8mpg and emits 162g/km of CO2, so road tax will cost £175 a year. The automatic version is even more expensive to run, returning 38.7mpg fuel economy and emitting 167g/km of CO2, so the tax disc costs another £25 annually. And because the Jimny's service interval is only 9,000 miles, you'll also end up spending a lot of money on maintenance.

Engines, drive & performance

1 / 5

The engine is underpowered and the car is very slow

The 84bhp 1.3-litre engine is decidedly sluggish and really needs to be worked hard to generate performance, and this makes a lot of noise. The Jimny takes a pedestrian 14.1 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, and that's with a manual gearbox – the automatic version takes a barely believable 17.2 seconds.

The Jimny is Suzuki's slowest car, which is enough reason to look past it and consider a Nissan Juke if you do primarily on-road driving. There's also loads of body lean when driving through the corners and the Jimny's grip is limited, which doesn't inspire confidence. The Jimny's saving grace is that it's highly capable off-road, where its four-wheel drive and low-ratio gearbox mean it can leave SUVs costing twice as much struggling in its wake.

Interior & comfort

1.3 / 5

Firm suspension is bouncy on rough roads

The suspension isn't much better than the handling, with the Jimny bouncing about all over the road and giving passengers a very uncomfortable ride. There's also a lot of engine, wind and road noise inside the car, which becomes very intrusive when driving at motorway speeds. And, because the 1.3-litre engine needs to be worked hard to get anywhere, it gets very loud. Legroom is also extremely tight for anyone unfortunate enough to be squeezed into the cramped rear seats.

Practicality & boot space

2 / 5

The boot’s tiny and rear seats are cramped

With just 113 litres of boot space, the Jimny has a limited luggage-carrying ability. Even when you fold down the standard split-folding rear seats, the boot space only expands to 286 litres – still barely enough for a week's shopping. There's also a big ridge in the floor that makes loading heavy objects difficult.

There's a reasonable amount of room up front, but legroom is tight and the back seats are very cramped indeed, with only just enough space for children. Ultimately, the Jimny works best as a rugged two-seater with the rear seats folded down. There's also a lack of storage inside, with only a lockable glove compartment and two cup holders.

Reliability & safety

2.8 / 5

The Jimny is tough and well built

Suzuki ranked 29th out of 32 manufacturers in our Driver Power 2013 survey, dropping three places from its 2012 position. It performed poorly in pretty much all categories, including reliability. The Jimny itself didn't feature in the survey's top 150 cars, and it hasn't been put through the Euro NCAP crash-safety tests, either, so it's hard to gauge its reliability and safety.

However, standard safety equipment includes driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock brakes and side-impact protection. The lack of electronic stability control – even as an optional extra – is a major issue in today's market. There's no denying that the Jimny 4x4 feels tough, although rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Fiat Panda 4x4 have a lot more accessories and safety equipment as standard.

Price, value for money & options

2.6 / 5

The Jimny defines cheap and cheerful

Although the Jimny looks and feels old, very few 4x4s are available at this price – particularly ones that are any good off-road. The lack of standard equipment is still an issue, though, with both the Nissan Juke and Fiat Panda 4x4 offering a lot more kit. Resale values on the used car market are pretty poor, too, but then you pay so little for the Jimny in the first place, it might not be that much of an issue. If you can ignore the poor equipment and bumpy ride, the Jimny defines cheap and cheerful.

What the others say

1.5 / 5
based on 4 reviews
1 / 5
There are too many shortcomings in the way the Jimny drives on the road: it's painfully slow, the ride is too firm and it's short of grip. It's also very tight on rear passenger space.
2 / 5
The 1.3-litre, 16-valve engine takes some winding up to get the best results and then, unfortunately, it becomes irritatingly coarse at high revs. Four adults can be carried on short journeys provided they don't have any baggage. The Jimny is an ambitious attempt by Suzuki to produce a unique type of city car, but it has some obvious failings.
2 / 5
The Jimny harks back to previous small Suzuki 4x4s - such as the SJ and Samurai ranges - with utilitarian styling and off-road practicality. But this model is more urbanite style statement than agricultural workhorse. The 1.3-litre engine is a little unrefined, but willing enough and is capable around town, however it struggles at higher speeds and it's clear that the Jimny is not a car designed for long distance travel. Noise is an issue and from behind the wheel it feels dated - hardly surprising since it was first launched in 1998.
4 / 20
The Suzuki Jimny is a tiny, cheap and rival-free hardcore off-roader. Does what it does quite brilliantly. Does everything else appallingly.
Last updated 
11 Dec 2013

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