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In-depth reviews

Suzuki Jimny SUV (1998-2018)

"Cheap, cheerful and tough, the Suzuki Jimny is one of the smallest 4x4s you can buy – but also one of the most capable"

Carbuyer Rating

2.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.7 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Affordable and cheap to run
  • Capable off-road
  • Tough interior

Cons

  • Very dated
  • Cramped cabin
  • Uncomfortable on the motorway

The Suzuki Jimny is now almost 20 years old and it’s really showing its age, but it's still a cheap and cheerful 4x4 that's extremely capable off-road. Its compact dimensions, durability and four-wheel drive combined with a special low-ratio gearbox specifically designed for off-roading make it surprisingly effective over rough or slippery surfaces.

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The Jimny is small and the cheap-feeling interior might leave you questioning its build quality, but it’s actually a tough old thing and far more capable of tackling off-road terrain than a lot of SUVs. As for looks, it’s pretty much a box on wheels, and the majority of modern compact crossovers (including ones available with four-wheel drive, such as the Nissan Juke) have much more interesting styling.

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. That means the Jimny is really not a car for high-mileage drivers or anyone who spends a lot of time on the motorway.

Although there are plenty of city cars and superminis that will do the job much better and for less money, the Jimny isn’t bad around town due to its compact footprint and small petrol engine, both of which suit urban areas. It’s most at home in the kinds of places other cars wouldn’t go, though, and it makes sense if you need a robust little working vehicle that can handle surfaces other than tarmac.

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, the Nissan Juke and Vauxhall Mokka X. The Suzuki Jimny comes in two main specifications – entry-level SZ3 and top-of-the-range SZ4 – and an automatic gearbox is available.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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