The world’s first compact four-wheel-drive SUV vehicle is celebrating its 40th birthday this year.
In 1970 Suzuki launched the first generation Jimny, a thrifty go-anywhere model which quickly gained a reputation for hard work as well as recreation.
Today’s third generation Jimny is a more comfortable, better equipped and more refined successor, yet is still just as capable and affordable.
Jimny is one of the longest running cars on the New Zealand market and is still the least expensive SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) with one of the lowest CO2 emission levels.
The LJ10, a basic open two-door vehicle powered by an air cooled, two stroke 360cc engines, was the first Jimny model, and a forerunner of the SJ series which became a favourite with New Zealand farmers.
For several years the Samurai nomenclature was used before Suzuki reverted to the Jimny name which means “little jeep” in Japanese.
In 1974 Australia became the first export market for the LJ50 which replaced the LJ10, and soon after limited numbers of the little Suzuki were imported fully built up into New Zealand.
The well known SJ series arrived in 1981, and four years later Suzuki New Zealand began local assembly of the SJ413 in Wanganui. This versatile little workhorse had upgraded to a larger 1.3-litre engine with a five-speed gearbox.
In 1996 the SJ series was renamed the Samurai in New Zealand, and was further improved with a new coil spring rear suspension, power assisted steering and revamped interior.
The all-new Japanese assembled Jimny with its smart new styling and added refinement was launched in 1999, and the body shape has been so successful it is largely unchanged today.
In 2005 a new engine and transmission refinements, plus a fresh interior injected new life into the Jimny.
The more efficient variable valve power train matched to revised gearing reaffirmed Jimny as the most economical petrol-engine four-wheel-drive vehicle on the market.
As Jimny marks four decades of production, global sales have reached 2.48 million units, and the model is now sold in 188 countries.
“The Jimny has been an on-going success because it is a genuine off-road vehicle as well as being an ideal small car for use in urban and city situations,” said Tom Peck, general manager of marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.
“Unlike many other 4WDs, Jimny is fundamentally designed to cope with practically all off-road conditions,” he said.
For normal on road operation, the Jimny operates in two wheel drive, while three dashboard-mounted buttons prompt electric engagement of four wheel drive and low ratio 4WD. High ratio four wheel drive can be engaged at speeds up to 100 km/h. Class-leading 42-degree approach and 46-degree departure angles give the Suzuki brilliant off-road ability.
The short body over-hang front and rear in conjunction with a tight turning circle and trim overall length of 3,645mm make the vehicle agile in off-road and city or urban situations.
Jimnys have been put to use in all sorts of ways. In Britain recently the Royal Lifeboat Institution put nine Jimnys into service on beaches in southern England.
The Jimnys are working in close collaboration with the inshore rescue boats and Jet Ski rescue water craft operated by the charity.
“This vehicle has carved out a unique market position thanks to a versatility that enables it to handle everything from leisure applications to working on farms, mountains, forests and bush tracks,” said Tom Peck.
“Jimny has evolved to meet the changing needs and demands of customers while remaining true to the fundamental concept of compactness, lightness, user-friendliness and fully fledged four wheel drive capability,” he said. “It is a distinctive example of Suzuki’s compact car expertise.”
Three Jimny models are available in New Zealand, with the entry-level 1.3 JX listing at an on-road price of $18,500.
A higher specification Jimny Sierra with alloy wheels, air conditioning, roof rails and anti-lock brakes, starts at $22,500 and is offered with either manual or automatic transmission.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Automotive Marketing Team