Road test: Suzuki Jimny 2019 review

Moving Well | Greg Hill | Posted on 18 September 2019

Greg Hill takes the new Suzuki Jimny for a road test.

  • Thumbs up

    The distinctive retro 4WD appearance is match by outstanding off-road ability for a budget price.

  • Thumbs down

    Disappointing three-star ANCAP safety score. Cabin space is tight.

  • Perfect for

    The adventure-loving driver more interested in off-road ability than on-road flair.

  • Verdict

    Fun but flawed, the Jimny is a cute-looking small SUV that prioritises looks and off-road ability over on-road refinement, safety and practicality.

A green Suzuki Jimny going through a river crossing


After a short break, Suzuki Jimny has returned to the Australian market with an improved all-new fourth-generation model. It features a refreshed three-door hard-top body style, upgraded interior and a larger-capacity 1.5-litre engine. While modern features have been added, the new Jimny retains much of the spirit of the original 1970s model. 

There is an old-fashioned rawness to the Jimny’s unique character that will win hearts but won’t be to everyone’s liking. Suzuki’s back-to-basics approach and boxy, retro styling gives the tiny 4x4 Jimny a distinctive charm that is more quaint than fresh and dynamically exciting. Competing in a class dominated by small car-like, soft-road SUVs, many of them only having front-wheel drive or an on-demand AWD system, the Jimny offers a harder-edged all-terrain alternative.

Designed and built to tackle more adventurous, serious recreational conditions, the Jimny has all the right ingredients. It employs a strengthened ladder-frame chassis that provides greater torsional stiffness, rigid axles front and rear with long-travel, three-link suspension and coil springs all round. Ground clearance is excellent, while the transmission choice is a basic five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.  

The 4WD system features a transfer box with conventional lever-selectable 2WD, 4WD high and 4WD low range. Ensuring good traction when the going gets tough, Suzuki’s AllGrip Pro uses a limited-slip traction control system. The previous 1.3-litre engine has been replaced by a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre unit. Although producing 15 per cent more power and 10 per cent more torque, the engine output is only a modest 75kW@6000 rpm and 132Nm@4000rpm.  

Interior view of a Suzuki Jimny
Side view of a green Suzuki Jimny


The on-road ability is significantly better than its predecessor but still trails well behind many of its more car-like peers. Even though the Jimny is a light vehicle, weighing 1095 kilograms in manual form, its performance around town and on the highway could at best be described as adequate. The 1.5-litre engine works hard, frequent gear changing is required in the manual to maintain pace and there is not a lot in reserve for hills or rapid passing. Official ADR fuel consumption is 6.4L/100km for the manual version and 6.9L/100km with the automatic.

The off-road-focused softly sprung suspension rides and handles satisfactorily at low speeds but falls away quickly when hurried along. When cornering there is plenty of body roll. Crosswinds tend to push the lightweight and boxy Jimny around noticeably on the highway.

When the bitumen ends and dirt roads turn into bush tracks, the Jimny shines. The engine characteristics, transmission, 4x4 dual-range driveline, short wheelbase, long-travel soft suspension and excellent ground clearance all combine to deliver class-leading off-road ability. 

Prices start from a budget-focused $23,990 plus on-road costs for the manual and the automatic is $25,990. Which of the six vibrant colours you prefer is your biggest choice, as the Jimny currently only comes in one spec grade.

A blue Suzuki Jimny taking on an offroad course


While still having an old-style basic, hard-wearing appearance that favours function over fashion, the interior layout has been modernised with a new instrument cluster and seven-inch touchscreen displaying navigation, smartphone connectivity and reversing camera.  Safety features include six airbags, electronic stability control, lane-departure warning, hill-descent control and LED headlights. Unfortunately, in crash testing the Jimny scored a disappointing three-star ANCAP safety rating.  

Cabin space in the tiny Jimny, as you would expect, is not abundant. The boxy body provides plenty of head room and visibility is good. Front-seat occupants are reasonably well accommodated for a vehicle of its size, but rear leg room is tight, even for two children, and the luggage compartment won’t hold much more than a small overnight bag. The addition of a 50/50 split-fold rear seat adds a little more versatility. 

Buyers do need to read the warranty and servicing fine print. Suzuki’s basic warranty is only three years/100,000 kilometres but can be extended to five years/140,000 kilometres by having the vehicle serviced at a dealer every six months for five years under Suzuki’s capped-price servicing program.  

Compared to the plethora of small car-based SUVs on the market, the Jimny lacks some refinement around town, however, the fun-to-drive nature of its outstanding off-road ability is the Jimny’s forte. No doubt its distinctive appearance will also win some buyers.

Suzuki Jimny

PRICING

Price as tested: $23,990 plus on-road costs.
Model range: $23,990 to $25,990 plus on-road costs.

DRIVETRAIN

Engine: 1.5-litre naturally aspirated, five-speed manual, dual-range 4x4.
Power: 75kW@6000rpm.
Torque: 132Nm@4000rpm.
Tyres: 195/80 R15.

FUEL

91 RON petrol, 40-litre tank.
Consumption: 6.4L/100km (government test).
CO2 emissions: 146g/km.

STANDARD SAFETY

Six airbags, electronic stability control, lane-departure warning, hill-descent control, reversing camera and LED headlights.

STANDARD FEATURES

Seven-inch multi-media touchscreen, voice command, navigation, smartphone and Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, cruise control and power windows (front only).

WARRANTY/SERVICING

Three-year/100,000-kilometre warranty. Six-month, 10,000-kilometre services.