Suzuki Jimny SUV (2018-2020)
There are few compact, lightweight 4x4s around, so if you need a small car that's also a very capable off-roader, the Suzuki Jimny is well worth considering
- Retro styling
- Compact size
- Off-road ability
- Lack of interior space
- Only one engine choice
- Underwhelming economy
The Suzuki Jimny has been around since 1970. It's seen surprisingly few big changes in all that time and the previous generation was on sale for almost twenty years. It's hard to imagine today's fourth incarnation of the Jimny lasting quite so long, but it is a car without any true rivals.
There aren’t that many small, lightweight 4x4s around. If you want an inexpensive, fun car with off-road credentials, the Fiat Panda 4x4 and Dacia Duster meet those criteria, while those in search of a workhorse might find that an older, used Mercedes G-Class or Toyota Land Cruiser fits the bill. As a 'serious off-roader', the Jimny is unlikely to be matched until the next Land Rover Defender arrives.
While some will choose the Jimny for its off-road capabilities, many will buy one for its charm and character. While not radically different to its predecessor, its squared-off looks resemble a scaled-down G-Class. It looks more timeless than 'retro', as if it was designed to fulfil a certain purpose, and there's no unnecessary ornamentation to be seen. More than anything, it's the Jimny's extremely compact size that will cause many to see it as 'cute'.
The latest model has swapped the previous 1.3-litre petrol engine for a new 1.5-litre unit. It produces 101bhp and, while it doesn’t provide blistering pace (0-62mph takes 12 seconds) or impressive fuel economy (35.8mpg is claimed), it does supply adequate power for how most buyers will use the car. The suspension setup and the body’s increased rigidity makes the latest Jimny more comfortable on the road, but compact SUV rivals are smoother riding and less prone to body lean in corners.
The Jimny’s size means versatility is not a strong point; the two rear seats are more of a gesture than a genuine place for adults to travel and the boot is very small with them in place. It’s better to think of the Jimny as a two-seat off-roader with a rear shelf in the shape of seats, rather than a car that can be relied on to carry more than two adults very far very often.
Equipment levels are reasonable for a car at the Jimny’s place on the price spectrum, with the higher-spec of the two trim levels coming with all the kit you really need, including alloy wheels, sat nav, heated front seats and climate control.
There's a lot to like about the Jimny, not least its simple style, refreshing honesty and single-minded nature. Many will find it just that bit too uncompromising, though – if you don't need to go off-road, almost any compact SUV will suit you better. The SEAT Arona, for instance, is more versatile, more car-like to drive and a lot more economical.