As Suzuki relents, Jimny returns for a second crack at the UK market, as a van!
To suggest that Suzuki captured the zeitgeist with the last version of the Jimny 4×4 estate verges on understatement and, suggests Iain Robertson, as a measure of its incredible popularity it has the lowest rate of depreciation of any car in the world.
In late-2018, Suzuki set off a firecracker, when it revealed its comprehensively revised Jimny model. Cuter than cute, it was destined to be an instant success story, sold in two variants SZ4 at £15,499 and SZ5 at £17,999 (to which you might add £1,000 for the automatic transmission). It was always said to be available in strictly limited numbers, a factor that would strengthen its value-for-money stance but Suzuki, having created a waiting list for the mini-Jeep, would withdraw it from sale in the UK before the end of 2019, blaming high CO2 levels for its reported demise.
While remaining stocks, of which there are very few, seem to have garnered speculative used price tags of up to £28,000, there is no excuse for a stripped out, one trim, still limited numbers, light commercial model tipping the scales at £1 less than £20k and paint is extra! Come on, Suzuki! Who is kidding whom? The UK cost of living has not escalated at such a rate over the past couple of years to warrant such a hefty price increase. It saddens me to write it but this is an example of blatant profiteering.
Powered by the same 1.5-litre, 16-valve petrol engine as before, it boasts an identical 98bhp, accompanied by 95lbs ft of torque but, thanks to fractionally lower kerbweight, it emits CO2 at a rate of 173g/km, which means an annual road tax of £275…steep but not enough to break the bank. Its combined fuel economy figure is given as 36.7mpg.
In fact, apart from the lack of fancy alloy wheels, replaced on the van version by black painted, 15.0-inch diameter steels, and a completely flat floor, without a pair of jump seats, constituting a load deck capacity of 863-litres, with a neat grille separating storage from occupant space, the specification is all but identical to the regular Jimny. Its one specification grade includes air conditioning, ALLGRIP PRO selectable 4WD, with low transfer gear, DAB radio, Dual Sensor Brake Support and cruise control with speed limiter. To be frank, I have simply never comprehended the logic applied by Suzuki GB to its UK market, when it also dropped the fantastic 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine from its range, or both Baleno and Celerio models. Talk about removing its nose to spite its face…
The Jimny’s off-road competence is inspirational. No matter the severity of climb angles, traverses and descents, the 1,090kgs kerbweight ensures that the car does not slump into the traction issues of its heavier 4×4 rivals. Its ground clearance of 210mm, combined with short front and rear overhangs are more than up to the challenges presented on any farm, building site, or off-road test route. Well-judged track width aids stability and, despite moderately firm damper settings, the Jimny rides out the most severe pitch inducing surfaces with ease.
While the steering box (recirculating ball type) provides superb off-road directional control, without the grabbing inherent to rack and pinion steering, its on-road performance is surprisingly good. There is only a small amount of slack in the system, which becomes more obvious at higher speeds. Therefore, while Jimny van will crack the 0-60mph dash in a modest 12.3s, when travelling above, or at the national speed limit, it can be upset readily by crosswinds and can feel more ponderous than it is. As its posted top speed is just 90mph, at which velocity the blend of tyre roar and transmission noise are perfect barriers to stretching the envelope, not many Jimny users are going to indulge regularly.
It is worth highlighting that the commercial Jimny comes equipped with the same safety features as the passenger alternative, including Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS), which employs automatic braking to help avoid a collision, and both hill hold and descent control that support demanding conditions off-road. In addition, eCall, an emergency messaging function following a collision is also fitted as standard.
I still love the Jimny. It is cramped for a two-metre tall driver but not undrivable. Its front seats are comfortable and provide good lumbar and lateral support, while access to the cabin is excellent. Although in-built sat-nav is unavailable, it does have a CD player for entertainment purposes and Bluetooth will connect the users’ devices to the head unit. The dashboard is a little busy but it looks purposeful and, like the rest of the car, is totally durable and dependable.
Bear in mind that businesses can claim back the VAT element included in its pricing, which nets it down to £16,796 (before paint), which makes the Jimny van appear to be more cost-effective. Yet, even though the supply is going to be a bit thin on the ground, it will still have full retail appeal and its £20k tag is still an unrealistic step too far. While the CO2 ratings of vans are not as crucial, at present, as those of passenger cars, Suzuki might as well try to sell a few Jimny commercials.