Suzuki Jimny 1.3 JLX  

Suzuki continue to add variants to the Vitara range and the latest, the Jimny, dives right back into it’s main market for, I suspect, at under ten grand on the road, many buyers for the Jimny are going to be youngsters, exactly as many of the Vitara variants have always had a certain street cred. The Jimny looks more twenty first century than some of the range, more “moulded”, all curves for this 3 door jeep which had just been launched to add to the range of these very popular offroaders. The combination of very cheap motoring with off-road capabilities is the essence of what Suzuki have done with the jeep and their increasingly wide range of off roaders have, since their launch in 1988, pioneered the market for smaller, off road vehicles and it has been one of the leading car makers to expand that market in recent years notably, for the smaller, sportier jeep type vehicles designed to attract the younger buyer who like the style, practicality and price.

 Suzuki were among the first to take the rugged jeep concept and civilise it for the nineties, endowing their offroaders with a desirability which made the Vitaras instant hits with people who wanted a tough, go anywhere, vehicle with a degree of panache that no other offroader could, at that time, offer for anywhere near the same price. Despite the many competitors now in this market the Suzuki range has continued to offer some of the most exceptional value for money deals of all but, inevitably, the Vitaras have evolved in sophistication and, equally inevitably, price. Time to go back to first principles and the new Jimny offers simple, low cost, jeep ownership.

The Jimny 1.3 JLX is effectively the entry level of Suzuki’s jeep range undercutting the cheapest Vitara by over £1, 000 but offering simpler pleasures from a smaller and more economical 1.3 litre engine. There’s just one version, the autobox the only major option although for a sector where image is all there are loads of dress up trim options. The 79 bhp, 1300 cc, engine is very willing and pulls well all the way to motorway cruising speeds all with good fuel consumption figures  - nearly 28 mpg for around town use and nearly 40mpg for the constant 56 mph figure -, it’s a good engine to find in an offroader with terrific torque for a 1300 and fairly quiet at motorway speeds. The 5 speed gearbox drives via a hi/lo, 2/4 ratio box for maximum on/off road flexibility.

The high driving position gives terrific visibility through enormous areas of glass aided by large mirrors and inside the Jimny is simple but comfortable, very adjustable seats, huge amounts of head and leg room and a good load area behind the folding seats. Most everything in the Jimny is power assisted including the steering, windows and mirrors and there’s central locking with an immobiliser and good stereo all standard as are dual airbags, a very convincing package at a very good price, just £9,995 on the road. Given it’s origins, one might expect a bit of a stiff and unsophisticated ride yet it’s the equal of most off roaders, firm but not uncomfortably so with minimal roll and surprisingly agile on the road.
The greatest early successes of the Vitara range were in the youth market although the increasingly wide range has broadened the market appeal of these tough jeeps but now Suzuki have returned to that “yoof “ market with a well priced and stylish offroader that should do well. Fortunately Suzuki are not pursuing an ageist selling policy so if you’re just young at heart and want to have some fun in a jeep then go for it. 

First Published 1998 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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