Suzuki Jimny 5dr review: Suzy and the city

David Linkater, Deputy Editor
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It's a hard-core 4x4, but the city is an even more common environment for the Jimny.


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  • Much better ride and stability than 3dr
  • Love the larger infotainment screen
  • Useful increase in interior space
  • Still like a tiny truck to drive
  • Manual misses out on adaptive cruise
  • Rear-seat folding mechanism is a bit crude

We enjoyed a jaunt down Skipper’s Canyon Road in Central Otago in the new Suzuki Jimny 5dr during the media launch for the model earlier this year. You could argue that’s the perfect place for this little 4x4: off-tarmac, a little challenging in places and a road to somewhere interesting. A little adventure.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Extra 340mm wheelbase gives the 5dr a totally different look. But still super-cute, right?

But ever since Skipper’s we’ve been dying to try it in town, because that’s an equally important environment for the Jimny. Perhaps more so.

No, it was never designed as a city vehicle. It was never designed as an on-road vehicle really, and it proudly remains one of the world’s great crazy-terrain 4x4s, ladder-frame chassis and all.

But fashion being what it is, the Jimny is also a hugely popular city car. Suzuki NZ even acknowledges that “admirers” (those who love the car but aren’t ever likely to use its 4x4 ability) are its biggest buyer group.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Just one specification for Jimny 5dr, but you can add the two-tone roof on red, ivory or yellow.

Funnily enough, stuff that makes a good 4x4 also often works in city driving: high clearance for hopping kerbs, good visibility around the car. And the Jimny’s minuscule exterior dimensions make it highly parkable. Even if the opportunity cost is vague steering and a bouncy ride.

No, it was never designed as a city vehicle. It was never designed as an on-road vehicle, really.

Let’s get straight to the point: with an extra 340mm in the wheelbase, the Jimny 5dr is markedly more comfortable than the 3dr. The phrase “surprisingly pleasant to drive” was even used in the office at one stage. It’s by no means like a car, which you wouldn’t expect because it’s not a car, it’s a tiny truck. But the chassis is surprisingly settled in 50km/h urban driving. You’d choose it over the 3dr for that alone, assuming you’re happy with the $5k premium.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Shiny grille is a 5dr exclusive.

It’s also more stable on the motorway (that longer wheelbase again), although there’s still a lot of play in the steering and it’s not something you’d throw into a corner too fast. Again, pretty standard for a hard-core 4x4, but as an “admirer” you have to come to it with that understanding.

It’s still tiny, mind: 3820mm long, shorter than a Swift. It’ll squeeze into tight parking spaces and a reversing camera is standard.

The extra 90kg in the 5dr does tax the little 1.4-litre engine a bit more than in the 3dr, but no Jimny is fast. We were pleasantly surprised by the relatively slick gearchange of our manual review vehicle (the very same one we drove up Skipper’s, coincidentally). Not bad at all.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Same dashboard as 3dr, but we love the infotainment upgrade: bigger screen, wireless projection.

Also love the larger infotainment screen, which upsizes from 9in to 12in – it’s the same unit you get in the S-Cross and comes as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay. And apparently wireless Android Auto too, despite the factory saying you need a cable for that OS. Just as well, because it’s really hard to find somewhere to put your phone when it’s plugged in. Top tip: the partitioned space behind the passenger-side dashboard grabhandle actually does the job. Using a piece of equipment specifically designed for off-roading to hold your mobile – that seems right in this context.

It’s hard to be too rational about the Jimny, because the design, off-road cred and 50-year-plus heritage make it a highly emotional purchase.

It’s still tiny, mind: 3820mm long, shorter than a Swift. So it’ll still squeeze into tight parking spaces and a reversing camera is standard. But it’ll do the job as a family vehicle because the legroom in the back is pretty decent; definitely fine for kids (who will love the view out and… and, let’s face it, everything about the car) and certainly okay for adults over short distances. The 5dr gets its own specific rear-seat design, so it beats the 3dr not just for space but also for comfort.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Yes, actual rear-seat space. But it's only a four-seater (because it's narrow!).

The extra luggage capacity is useful, no question. But how much extra? The official figure is 211 litres with the rear seats raised, but it really does seem bigger than that. The local Suzuki people are equally perplexed by the factory supplied dimensions, but let’s just say it’s well over twice as big as a Jimny 3dr (85l is the official figure).

It could be more practical, though. You can fold the rear seat down but it doesn’t sit flat and there’s a huge step-up from the boot floor if you’re loading longer items in (okay, they won’t be that long). So yes, the extra rear seat space is truly appreciated and the extra cargo capacity is considerable, but there’s a case for the 3dr being a bit more useful in some scenarios: the rear seats fold properly flat and Suzuki even offers a neat little tray-with-sides that fits in the back. Basically it can become a two-seater with a giant bucket in the boot.

Suzuki Jimny 5dr.
Useful increase in luggage space, but we'd like more foldability from the rear seat.

It’s hard to be too rational about the Jimny, because the design, off-road cred and 50-year-plus heritage make it a highly emotional purchase for most buyers. And we’re glad about that. It makes people happy.

But yes, the 5dr is a more comfortable and practical iteration, even if it doesn’t let you make as much use of the loadspace as it could. And it does look just as adorable as the 3dr, as well as being visually very different.

ENGINE: 1.5-litre petrol four POWER: 75kW/130Nm GEARBOX: 4-speed automatic, part-time 4WD with low-range transfer CONSUMPTION: 7.7l/100km (3P-WLTP) PRICE: $41,500.

How much is the Suzuki Jimny 5dr?

At $41,500 for our two-tone (black roof) manual model, the 5dr is $4000 more expensive than the equivalent 3dr.

What are the key statistics for the Suzuki Jimny 5dr powertrain?

Exactly the same as the 3dr: 1.5-litre petrol engine with four-speed automatic, part-time 4WD with low-range transfer.

Is the Suzuki Jimny 5dr efficient?

It's a tiny truck with an old-tech engine, so not really! Although the official 3P-WLTP figure of 7.7l/100km isn't too bad for a 4x4 with all-terrain tyres.

Is the Suzuki Jimny 5dr good to drive?

As a road car, no. But that's not the point. The Jimny is unapologetically a tough 4x4, so ride/handling expectations need to be modified with that in mind. But the 5dr is much smoother than the 3dr thanks to the longer wheelbase.

Is the Suzuki Jimny 5dr practical?

The extra cabin space is a boon if you want to carry rear-seat passengers and there's a lot more luggage space. However, it's a bit disappointing that the rear seat doesn't fold away properly.

What do we like about the Suzuki Jimny 5dr?

Much improved dynamics compared to the 3dr, cabin upgrades such as the larger infotainment screen and wireless phone projection, actual rear-seat space - and it still looks unbearably cute.

What don’t we like about the Suzuki Jimny 5dr?

Don't come expecting it to drive like a passenger vehicle or crossover SUV, $42k is getting up there for something so tiny, rear-seat folding mechanism is a bit half-hearted.

What kind of person would the Suzuki Jimny 5dr suit?

Suzuki says it's biggest buyer group is "admirers" who love the look and plenty of those will be attracted to the super-stylish 5dr. But it's also still a hard-core 4x4 and it'll be great for adventurers who want to use that extra space for luggage when they're in the great outdoors.

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