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Suzuki Jimny JLX Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 17 January 1999

Suzuki first released a Jimny four-wheel drive in Australia around 1974. However, the name was quickly dropped in favour of LJ50. Later models in this country became known as the Sierra, although the Jimny name was retained overseas.

The Jimny will replace the Sierra, and Suzuki is aiming sales at the hatchback buyer, offering a small four wheel drive with a high level of equipment, for a similar amount of money.

Two models of the Jimny are available. The base model JX in manual transmission only, is priced at $15,950, and the up-market JLX in manual or automatic transmission, at $17,750 and $19,250 for the manual and automatic respectively. The JLX model has power steering, electric windows, central locking, higher level trim, electric mirrors and roof rails. Airconditioning is standard on both the JX and the JLX. The only factory option for the JLX is styled aluminium sports wheels. Our test vehicle was a JLX automatic with alloy wheels and a price tag of $19,800.

The all aluminium 1.3 engine is a new power unit designed specifically for the Jimny. It features a single overhead camshaft, 16 valves and multi-point fuel injection and, on paper, delivers impressive power and torque for its relatively small capacity.

Power from the five speed manual and four speed automatic transmission is transferred to the wheels via a low friction chain and a two speed transfer box, providing high and low ratios for off-road driving. The part-time four-wheel drive can be selected in high range at speeds of up to 100 km/h, however low ratio should only be selected whilst the vehicle is stationary and the transmission in neutral.

Rigid axles are used at the front and rear, supporting the chassis on coil springs and gas dampers, with a stabiliser bar at the front. Front brake discs and rear drums with a load-sensing proportioning valve bring the Jimny to a stop in a reasonable distance, although they are prone to lock-up easily if too much pressure is applied.

The rounded lines of the Jimny combine with the bold and aggressive grille to give it a futuristic appearance. The wrap around bumpers, wide opening doors and beefy looking guards, all add to its appeal to the younger set. Body panels most susceptible to corrosion are galvanised.

The scene from behind the controls of the Jimny is familiar, the layout being consistent with most Japanese built cars. Although there is plenty of head room in the front, the leg room is limited and the cabin area quite claustrophobic. I found the liquid crystal odometer/tripmeter difficult to see both in the daylight and at night. The gear selector is positioned well back and when this is coupled with a tall driver, the left leg constantly rests against the overdrive button on the side of the lever.

Accommodation in the rear is very cosy with seating for two only. Although head room is adequate, leg and shoulder room is minimal, catering only for small adults or children.

Storage space is generous with two gloveboxes, door pockets, cup holders and numerous console and side panel pockets.

The on-road performance of the road test Jimny was mediocre. I found it sluggish on take-off and it struggled to maintain freeway speeds on uphill grades. The automatic transmission was hesitant on full throttle downshifts adding to its overall lacklustre performance.

The off-road performance of the Jimny was up to the standard of previous Suzuki off-roaders, although limited in some situations by its low power and poor engine braking with the automatic transmission.

Safety and security are not outstanding, although consistent with most small Asian built vehicles. I considered the safety features listed to be standard equipment in today's vehicles, and the security rating of 16 speaks for itself.

Under the bonnet is a servicing dream with all items readily accessible, aided by a reasonable amount of room at each side of the engine. Service schedules have been set at 10,000 km or six-monthly intervals and manufacturer's warranty at 5 years or 100,000 km.


The bold futuristic style of the Jimny is more likely to attract the younger age driver who is looking for a vehicle with the flexibility to handle the daily routine, as well as weekend leisure activities. Provided the few shortcomings that are evident in its performance and layout are not detrimental to the potential purchaser, this smart little four wheel drive should give satisfactory service. For those seeking a little more performance, the manual version may be worth considering.

Test vehicle supplied by Ateco Suzuki.

Quick Facts

Make Suzuki
Model Jimny JLX
Category Compact SUV
Year 1999
Body type Van

Futuristic modern styling
Equipment level (JLX)
Off-road ability


Engine/transmission performance
Engine braking (off-road)
Rear passenger space

Country of manufacture Japan
Warranty 5 years, 100,000 km
Models Available



$15,950 - JX
$17,750 - JLX



Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.298 L
Induction Multi-point fuel injection
Fuel ULP
Claimed max power (kW) 59 kW @ 6000 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 104 Nm @ 4500 rpm


Type Manual


Wheel type Alloy
Wheel size 15 "


Type Bridgestone Dueler / H/T
Dimensions 205/70 R15


Turning circle (measured) 10.2 m


Mass 1030 kg
Length 3625 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1600 mm
Height 1705 mm
Seating capacity 4
Fuel capacity 40 litres


Max towed mass (trailer plus load) 550 kg

NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 16

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 6.6 secs
60 - 100km/h 12.2 secs
0 - 80km/h 11.1 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 8.7 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 10.3 L/100km
Average on test 9.8 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 32 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 66 dB(A)

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