A pioneer of the dual purpose on and off-road Sport Utility Vehicle sector, the Jimny broke new ground 50 years ago and soon earned legendary status for its competence and individuality. The iconic compact Suzuki Jimny is generating world-wide enthusiasm with the arrival of the latest model.
Interest in the thrifty and practical Jimny has heightened since the new version broke cover in Japan during the second half of last year and the first examples have just gone on sale in New Zealand.
Acclaimed by critics for its ultra-honest unpretentiousness, the new Jimny is an instantly desirable piece of design that is expected to be even more popular than its predecessor. With its cult following, the latest version follows in the wheel tracks of earlier Jimnys that are seen as the car you can drive almost anywhere.
In January, the versatile Jimny wowed visitors at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon where no fewer than 14 specially adapted interpretations of the car were displayed. Two of these were created in-house by the Suzuki factory while the others were inspired by specialist motor companies in Japan.
One example was a pick-up style adaption with an open load bed behind the front seats, faux wood panelling and extra large flared guards. LED off-road driving lamps are mounted at roof level.
The one-off Jimny Survive styling exercise has a full external caging around the cabin, doubling as extra off-road protection and as useful roof racks. Fitted with Bridgestone Dueler off-road tyres, the Survive has larger, restyled bumpers, protection for the headlights, and steel plate sections on the corners of the body.
Two production examples of the new Jimny proved head-turners at the recent Fifth World Car Awards in Los Angeles where motoring journalists lined up to test drive the model even though it is not available for sale in the United States.
Jimny has marked a first for the Suzuki brand by winning the 2018 Good Design Gold Award in Japan. Hosted by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion, the award is backed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In response to the accolade, Suzuki said that the Jimmy’s square body “let the driver understand the vehicle’s posture and situation”, a factor that contributed to the off-road drivability.
The Gold design award was established in 1957 and is the only award of its type in Japan to comprehensively evaluate and recommend designs. The award jury said, “In the global automobile market packed with many products, the Jimny has achieved an unchallengeable distinctive position. It has also undertaken an ideal co-design in its model change process (while keeping) the good points of the previous model.”
Since 1970 2.9 million Jimnys have been sold in 194 countries and the latest fourth generation model is likely to enjoy a long production cycle, like its predecessor that launched in New Zealand in 1998 and was still popular after 20 years in the local market. A long model life has been a factor in relatively low depreciation levels for the Jimny.
“Jimny is synonymous with the Suzuki brand and the retro design theme of the new model is proving so popular we are expecting that initially demand is likely to exceed supply,” said Gary Collins, General Manager of Automobile Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand. “It is a masterpiece of Suzuki’s 4WD technology and is still the one and only authentic off-roader that is small and lightweight while retaining its core off-road ability.”