March 11, 2012

What's wrong with the Jimny

Back in the posting 'Questions to ponder' I asked why people keep saying the Suzuki Jimny is a good 4WD off-road? This has brought an agitated email from an outraged Suzuki enthusiast demanding that I justify the criticism. Actually, it wasn't a criticism at all, just a question that I thought someone might have been able to answer. And no, it's not a question about Suzukis in general. I seriously respect the Jimny's predecessor, the Samurai, especially those that have been thoughtfully modified.

First, I'll tell you what's good about the Jimny. It's small, light, nimble, reliable, cheap to run, has a sweet 1.3 litre engine and looks kind of cute. It's also relatively cheap, although prices are creeping up. What's wrong? Well, you'll smash the front bumper the first time you hit some serious off-road tracks. But don't be too concerned because Suzuki has made the Jimny fail-safe in this regard; you'll be stuck long before reaching any tough tracks. Unfortunately, it has no more ground clearance than a Subaru Outback, 190mm according to the factory. 

The 1355/1365mm track is too narrow for its 1670mm height and the high centre of gravity means it'll probably tip on its side before getting to the real rough stuff. Its 205/70 15-inch tyres are too small but the wheelwells won't allow any meaningful increase without getting a body lift and/or suspension kit. Forget about the manual for off-roading, its clutch engages so suddenly that you have to ride it all the time. The auto is okay but holds the wee wagon back too much on the highway; its performance is marginal enough with the manual. A Jimny is relatively light at just over 1000kg, but once you've added the bulbar, lift kit, big tyres and other essentials some of that advantage has gone. It also has open diffs in its beam axles, not even a limited-slip at the back. Whatever you think about electronic traction control, Jimny's at a huge disadvantage compared to its contemporaries that have it, such as Defender and Wrangler. 

You can fix these shortcomings, but why bother? If you must have a Suzuki, find the best Samurai you can and build it up. If you've got the dough, buy something like a 2-door Wrangler or a Td5-engined Defender 90.

New blue Jimny with a well modified one that could do the business. The good one was at the time the toy of 4WD trainer Colin Burden. 

12 comments:

  1. What a dumb shit uyou are. Learn to drive and you won't have any problem with the Suuzi

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  2. I owned a Jimny and agree with most of what you said. It may not be that great un forests etc without mods, but it's a wee weapon in the dunes and on beaches, etc.

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  3. Another AnnonymusMarch 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Jimmys are GREAT. The only problem s there driver. I agree with what Annonymus said.

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  4. You're wrong on this - Suzukis are top. They'll show up that Jeep you seem to favore.

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  5. I own a Jimny with BFG AT's and it leafs other 4x4s for dead, Cruisers, Safaris, Landrovers you name it. Nothing can touch them, yore comments are so uniformed.

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    1. Whew, I thought you were going to say my comments were uninformed.

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  6. The Jimny is a fun vehicle, but it's not a serious off roader unless you're on sand. You can throw heaps of money at it to make it better but whats the point?

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  7. I bought a Jimny, spent heaps of money modifying it, then sold it. It's too much of a toy but makes a good urban runabout, in which case you don't need any mods!

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  8. I actually feel sorry for anyone who overlooks the jimny now after reading this article.
    Firstly, such a short wheelbase and a 190mm clearance go hand in hand. Comparing it to a subaru with a longer wheelbase is not comparing apples with apples. The stock tyres are more than capable for such a light weight vehicle and their narrow track help the driver keep the car out of the wheel ruts larger 4x4s are forced to follow and get stuck in. Then, if you want more ground clearance you get a cheap 2 inch lift. Its a standard modification even the beastiest gas guzzlers have done when owners plan to do more serious offroading. Bigger tyres are nice, but considering your favourable experience with larger 4x4s id forgive you for thinking this was an essential upgrade. It may be so on bigger heavier cars, not the jimny. Id also have to disagree with your belief that the stock bumper is too low for any serious offroading. It does look that way I will agree, but perhaps I should ask that you actually drive the thing before forming your opinions about it. If you do want to fork out money for extras like bullbars, lifts, lockers, winches etc I can assure you this will all be insignificant compared to your fuel bill on a larger 4x4 over the average ownership period. Yes it is small, its cargo capacity is limited and its highway performance is less than amazing, but it will get you to where you want to go and the running costs will keep you out on the trails and road tripping while your big 4x4 buddies are at home saving for their next trip.

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    1. Thank you for making some good points. I've done enough off roading in Jimnys to stand by the comments about the bumper.

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  9. This write up really seems like a bashing on the jimny with no real point and is well proven at the end when you compare it two vehicles worth two or three times the new price tag. I am now driving a 2015 jimny Sierra after owning two hilux surfs in the past and find the jimny to be far more capable in stock standard form. Highway driving in the jimny is not great compared to a larger vehicle. It is definately something to get used to. I put 1200km on mine on the highway last weekend and found learning to shift the auto transmission keeps you moving along a bit better. Since i bought my sierra i have put it through some light mudding, river and a lot of snow and really find this article to be in-accurate. If putting your car in a big mud hole is all that appeals to you, perhaps a jeep or defender may have more clearance to allow easier passage, but why would you? So many dead end ideas here. Who is this supposed to appeal to?

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    1. Thanks for your comments; it's useful to hear the experiences of owners.

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