31 October 2019

Suzuki Jimny 2019 Car Review

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. When it went through its rigorous ANCAP crash tests Suzuki’s new Jimny gained just three stars out of a possible five.

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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019
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Suzuki Jimny 2019

And that isn’t good these days, even before you consider its too modest protection score for the adults up front.

You can see the full details on the ANCAP website, but briefly, it also lost points by failing to include some of today’s modern electronic safety aids, and dropped more points than is ideal on frontal offset and full width crash tests.

We can only hope that those seeking a car for purely on-road running will bear that in mind, and buy something safer.

However, Jimny does have some strengths it’s otherwise impossible to find at this price level: if you want to go off road, and need four-paw capability with a compact footprint, a low-range transmission and a wallet-friendly price, you may choose to make the compromises.

The Jimny nameplate has been going since 1970, the second generation boasting an incredible 20-year lifespan thanks to its combo of low price and genuine off-road ability – plus the high ride and compact footprint, which make it city friendly.

As you can imagine, producing a new one meant quite a few changes, a challenge given clearly it needed to retain its tight dimensions, cheeky persona and practical lines – plus its off-road cred – if it wanted to keep its appeal.

Tackling dirt meant retaining the ladder-chassis underpinnings, fitting a rigid axle both front and rear, plus coil springs at both ends and a more robust axle housing. The rear axle housing is bigger, and more flexible, and the body is stiffer.

That body is actually 30mm shorter than before, at 3645mm, but wheelbase remains the same, though this Jimny is 45mm wider and 40mm taller. Track also widens, and the Jimny now has a very planted look, and a cabin that delivers a touch more shoulder room.

It’s been a while since we took a Jimny off road. The third-gen was sufficiently talented in the rough to head well into the boonies, and we suspect this fourth generation is no different, especially with the appropriate tyres fitted to those 15-inch alloy wheels and with the generous 210mm ground clearance. However, there wasn’t as second off-roader and driver available during our test, so we stuck to sealed and unsealed roads.

Suffice it to say there’s still two-wheel-drive mode for better fuel use and lower tyre wear on road, four high if you need the grip without reducing speed, and four low. The manually operated shift lever which effects the change is easy to hand, and easy to get through the stages – 2H to 4H and back can be done at up to 100km/h.

Mind you, though that 1.5-litre engine only has to shunt 110kg along, the transmission – geared as it is towards its urban or off-road function – means it still feels and sounds a little busy at 100km/h, despite more power and torque. That short wheelbase doesn’t help it feel settled at open road speeds either, quite apart from its boxy aero design. At least it’s fairly frugal – and those happy to cruise at 90km/h will spend less at the pump.

As for the other practical bits, this is a small car and boot space is modest. Very modest indeed with all four seats in use, at just 85 litres VDA plus an underfloor compartment. Fold the back seats and it increases to 377 litres – or 1084 litres to the roofline – up on its predecessor. 

Given buyers aren’t likely to include folk seeking to carry two passengers and luggage – it’ll be either, or – the modest cargo space is unlikely to pose a problem, and the bonus is it’s lined in plastic, as are the rear seat backs, so it’s very easy to clean.

Suzuki says you can fold the front seats flat and use the interior as a bed – let’s hope you never need to. Tie down hooks around the floor and under the rear side windows ensure luggage is tied down, for on-road and rough road safety.

Specification includes seating and belts for four, two isofix child seat fittings, the full complement of six airbags, ABS and stability control, cruise control, Bluetooth and satnav, fog lamps and headlight washers, climate control air con, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

We tested the auto version – there’s also a manual, which saves you two grand, or a lower-specified JX manual at $25,990.

Suzuki’s latest Jimny may not have the five-star crash test rating we now expect even from today’s mass market family runabouts, but it continues to deliver some serious off-road cred at under 30K.

Buyers should keep its compromises in mind – there are safer cars out there, and if you need a compact SUV with a low range transmission, you’ll either pay more money, or give up some of the benefits of modern safety tech.

At a glance


Suzuki Jimny Sierra


1.5 litre 16-valve four-cylinder petrol


$29,500 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

75kW at 6000rpm, 130Nm at 4000rpm


Four-speed auto with low-range transmission

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

950kg braked


4WD with 2WD, 4H and 4L

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

85 litres rear seats upright, 377 litres with rear seats folded to window line. Total with row two folded 1084 litres to roof

Safety systems

  • Auto on headlights, with auto high beam
  • Lane departure warning
  • Auto emergency braking
  • Cruise control with speed limiter
  • Hands-free phone function
  • Weaving alert
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