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The Jimny name is not new to Australia, although its existence was short-lived in the early 1970's. This name is common place to Suzuki's local market in Japan and other overseas countries, whereas Australia is more familiar with the Sierra nameplate.
Eventually, the lesser equipped, knock-about JX Jimny, with vinyl mats and manual transmission will replace the ageing Sierra. The up-market JLX with power steering, electric windows, central locking, electric mirrors, higher trim levels and optional automatic transmission is poised to take on the small hatchback market, offering a similar level of equipment and off-road ability at a competitive price.
Although the JX Jimny is standard with airconditioning, it does not attract the same power-assisted equipment as fitted to the JLX, and is available in manual transmission only. The JX is priced at $16,950 and the JLX model, complete with power everything, is $20,250 in automatic and $18,750 in manual.
The lightweight 1.3 Single Overhead Camshaft engine is of aluminium construction with four valves per cylinder and features a fuel injection system expressly tailored to the Jimny's needs.
The five speed manual transmission and chain driven transfer case effectively transmit the engine's power to the rear wheels under highway conditions. In off-road situations four wheel drive can be engaged 'on-the-fly' up to 100 km/h, but to engage low range the vehicle must be stopped and the gear lever placed in the neutral position.
Although giving an initial appearance of being smaller than the Sierra, the Jimny is slightly larger in all aspects. Its bold and modern style, with a more rounded look than its predecessor, gives it a futuristic appearance that has appeal to the younger generation.
The Jimny's running gear is fairly basic with coil springs and gas dampers, operating on rigid axles through a three-link suspension system. As a result, the ride tends to be harsh and choppy. The power-assisted brakes operate on discs at the front and drums at the rear.
Being a small vehicle, cabin space is at a premium. Whilst there is ample headroom, leg and shoulder accommodation is only reasonable for the average size adult. All controls are within easy reach, clearly marked and simple to operate in a typical Japanese/Australian layout.
Although there are plenty of small storage compartments throughout the Jimny's cabin, the rear luggage area is rather small. When travelling with only two people, lowering the rear seat can enhance this area to a more acceptable level. To compensate for a lack of luggage space, the JLX has a versatile roof rail system that can cope with an additional 30 kg.
Whilst the on-road performance of the manual version is an improvement over the automatic, it is still inclined to be under powered. Long uphill grades soon take a toll on the 59 available kilowatts, testing the suitability of the lower gear ratios, which I found to be well matched to the 1.3 engine.
Suzuki has always had a good reputation for off-road performance in the smaller four wheel drives, and the Jimny is no exception. Engine braking and engine power on take-off is not a problem with the manual transmission version.
Towing a trailer with the Jimny would not be high priority, however, Suzuki nominate a 550 kg maximum limit, which would allow it tow a small box trailer or a light camper trailer.
There is a decided lack of available safety and security equipment in this vehicle, due to the need to contain the purchase price to a competitive level. Ateco have assured us that an engine immobiliser is high on their must-have list on future updates.
Under bonnet servicing with the Jimny is an easy task due to the favourable placement of the engine and ancillaries. Service intervals are set at 10,000 km or six monthly periods and manufacturer's warranty at five years or 100,000 km.
The Jimny has been designed as a compromise vehicle, which has the versatility of a small hatchback, a high level of comfort items and the ability to handle off-road situations, while maintaining a modern futuristic image.
In its manual form, it is a more spritely performer than its automatic counterpart. The bold, aggressive styling coupled with the above features has the potential to satisfy the comforts of the daily working routine, as well as weekend leisure activities.
Test vehicle supplied by Ateco Suzuki.
|Model||Jimny JLX 99|
|Price of vehicle tested||$20,250|
Futuristic modern styling
Safety and security features
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||5 years, 100,000km|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||1.3 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||59 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||104 Nm @ 4500 rpm|
|Wheel size||7J x 15 "|
|Turning circle (measured)||10.1 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1600 mm|
|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||10.0 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||10.9 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||18.0 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||8.0 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||8.4 L/100km|
|Average on test||8.1 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||34.3 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||68 dB(A)|