Cars

The Tiny Suzuki Jimny Comes with Tons of Fun

A review of the 2019 Suzuki Jimny GL M/T 4x4 All Grip Pro.
IMAGE ERIC TIPAN
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I hope you’re not expecting Vitara-levels of fun because that’s totally not what I mean. It’s a little rough, uncouth even, but it packs an energetic drive that’s infectious. And trust me, you’ll feel it as soon as you get behind the wheel.

Don’t be deceived by its looks too. As diminutive as it is, this is a truck through and through trapped in a cute ute body, and without a doubt, an absolute looker.

Jimny exterior

That boxy retro look, in that size, is really what gets people ogling. Perfect exterior dimensions that are packed with so much eye candy.

The windshield stands almost vertical, holding up the short flat roof, which really isn’t good for aerodynamics but you ain’t breaking speed records with a 1.5L naturally-aspirated engine.

In Jungle Green, this unit looks absolutely at home off-road and is suited up with just the right accessories.

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Its grille is flat, with a five-slat design, and looks utterly utilitarian with plain round housings for the circular halogen multi-reflector headlamps and turn signal lights.

Front bumper looks simple but robust, with fog lamps on each side and a large air intake in the middle. 

Windows are very wide, thanks to its height, and there’s a pinch stretching from the top of the front fender all the way to the rear, a very short character line running along the bottom of the door, and that macho plastic cladding that adds plenty of texture to the sides.

The spare wheel casing is black and is mounted on the rear door, which swings to the right to open, and mounted on top, right in the middle, is a third brake light.

Taillights are mounted on each end of the rectangular rear bumper.

Wheels wells look big and should be able to accommodate tires bigger (and wider) than 195/80 R15, should you wish to customize it—and I recommend that you do, but more on that later.

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As the entry-level trim, it comes with a remote on the keyfob to lock/unlock the doors and key-in ignition.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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Retro interiors

That same boxy, practical look carries over into just about every aspect of the cabin. Most all surfaces are made of all-black, hard plastic, from the dashboard all the way to the door panels.

There’s a nine-inch touchscreen display mounted on top of rather small aircon vents and rivets (to toughen up its look) are visible on the frame of the instrument panel, the handle bar atop the glove box, and even the door handles.

To complete the retro image are old-fashioned knobs and switches, plus a taller than usual stick shifter with a traditional boot cover. FYI, don’t get disconcerted if you can’t find the power window controls by the door. They’re located right below the aircon controls at the bottom of the center stack.

Bluetooth connection is available, as well as a USB and AUX-in port.

Because of the high ceiling, it feels very spacious inside, but this is only for the two front passengers. As a three-door unit, the second row is barely there and even though it comes with a bench seat, only children will be comfortable with that small amount of legroom.

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Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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Power when you need it

A max of 100 PS and 130 Nm of torque can be sent to a two-wheel drive format or its All Grip Pro 4x4 system (four-wheel drive).

I know it’s not a lot but you don’t need much to get this truck going. Zipping in and out of traffic was easy and the pull can excitedly haul its 1.090-ton body along.

The engine sounds like a diesel, but it’s not and you’ll really need to throttle up to feel the power, especially if you want to overtake.

Since it uses a five-speed manual transmission, power delivery is immediate, but I had to go easy from 1st to 2nd as the clutch engages pretty early. A simple adjustment would fix this easily. It moved through the rest of the gears without a hitch.

Steering is light, albeit truck-like because it uses a recirculating ball and not a typical rack and pinion system found in modern sedan and crossovers. That’s because the former is stronger and more durable, and well-suited for off-road drives.

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The drawback is, despite its size, recovering from a turn coming out of a parallel parking slot for example will require a few extra strokes of the steering wheel.

Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
Photo by ERIC TIPAN.
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Pint-sized fun

Handling isn’t very sharp but I blame the slim 195s and the wet roads during that week of the test drive more than anything else. Wider tires should improve it some.

Comfort isn’t very high but if you know what you’re getting into, then you’d understand. Front and rear suspensions are three-link rigid axles with coil springs, something commonly found in trucks and off-road units.

Cracks and crevices on the road are very palpable but poorly formed speed bumps are the worst since driving over it excites all axles and shakes up even loose items in the cabin.

If you’re turned off because of the part where comfort is low, then you’re missing the point of a having a truck. All that shaking and rattling is part and parcel of truck driving, especially the off-road types.

That’s actually the fun part about trucks, and that’s all the more amplified because the Jimny is tiny. The combo of agility and size feels so empowering behind the wheel, which is where you get all the energy and desire to keep the drive going.

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It’s not designed to take on too many, people or cargo, because if it did, it’ll lose the essence of a compact, off-road unit designed to deliver pint-sized fun in large doses. You get all that for only Php 975,000.

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Eric Tipan
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