Parkers overall rating: 3.3 out of 5 3.3
  • A capable car that’s tough and fun off-road
  • Poor on-road manners will disappoint some buyers
  • It’s slow, noisy and a bit wobbly at speed

The standard 101hp/130Nm engine, when coupled to the standard five-speed manual gearbox, can propel the Jimny from 0-62mph in around 12 seconds. Flat out, it’ll touch 90mph – but, despite this unimpressive top speed, it’s capable of keeping up with traffic on Britain’s motorways. On top-spec SZ5 cars you also get the option of a four-speed automatic gearbox, but top speed drops to 87mph and we’d imagine the 0-62mph time will suffer too.

It’s not quick, either. There’s decent pulling power on hand at low speeds but you need to rev the engine hard, and make full use of the five-speed gearbox, to make any meaningful progress. Fortunately, the gearbox is a delight to use – its long-throw lever is precise, can be hurried if required and feels satisfyingly well engineered. Some will extract pleasure from the process of riving the Jimny; others will find it restless, frustrating and unrewarding.

Automatic models take some of the load off but, with lower gearing and a less efficient transmission, they’re thirstier, noisier and cost more in tax and fuel alike. They’re surprisingly expensive, too – if you’re considering a self-shifting Jimny for comfort, almost anything else will be better value and more gratifying.

Suzuki Jimny automatic gearbox

If you’re planning on taking regular long journeys, particularly those taking in stretches of motorway, we’d suggest you look elsewhere. The Jimny will tolerate motorways but getting to 70mph with more than one person on board takes a little time – and, in top gear, the engine’s spinning at more than 3500rpm. This can get tiring quickly, particularly in conjunction with the Jimny’s busy nature at speed. 

Surprisingly, there’s enough power available up to 6,000rpm to overtake slower-moving traffic, and enough grunt not to fall back or change down a gear on inclines. Add a passenger or two, though, and it has an impact on the Jimny’s performance purely because the car itself is comparatively light.

  • On-road stability is better than you’d expect
  • But you’re probably not expecting much
  • It’s a mechanical mountain goat, otherwise 

Suzuki Jimny 2019: how does it drive on-road?

You obviously shouldn't expect class-leading dynamics from the Jimny. It has a recirculating ball steering system, for starters, which isn’t typically as accurate or as quick as conventional rack-and-pinion systems – but it suits the car well as it minimises kick-back in off-road situations and can also often turn the wheels more easily and feel more durable.

The Jimny also has high-profile tyres which conspire to rob it of steering feel. Furthermore, unlike any supermini-based crossover, both front and rear axles are of the traditional solid type. These are advantageous for off-road use but the lack of independent suspension means that the Jimny takes a bit of getting used to – unless you're used to driving other bespoke off-roaders or classic cars in general; it rolls in corners and the steering initially feels so vague that you might be mistaken into thinking it can't tackle bends at all. You’ll soon learn the Jimny’s limits, though, and making clean and tidy progress is possible with some effort – but it’ll never inspire huge amounts of confidence.

Suzuki Jimny 2019: how does it drive off-road?

This is where the Jimny makes up for its lack of refinement and on-road prowess – it’s an agile and capable off-roader, like its predecessors, and capable of traversing terrain that would challenge the likes of a Land Rover Defender. The Suzuki is also as much a rival for purpose-made all-terrain vehicles, such as the John Deere Gator, but with vastly improved comfort and convenience.

This supreme off-road talent is thanks to ample ground clearance, small overhangs, lots of traction and a low kerb weight. This is particularly impressive given the road tyres on our test cars and the lack of front and rear differential locks. Some credit for this goes to the ‘brake LSD’ system the Jimny uses; this uses the brakes to slow spinning wheels, which redirects torque to the remaining wheels with traction. It’s a clever solution that’s ideal for a light, affordable and low-powered 4x4.

Suzuki Jimny off-road

We tried the Jimny on a variety of challenging surfaces and came away wondering if we’d even scratched the surface of its capabilities. Standard Hill Descent Control and hill-hold systems help, but it’s the low-range gearbox and 4x4 set-up that do the lion’s share of the work here.

The low weight makes a difference, too, and on some very muddy tracks the Jimny never came close to getting stuck or overtaxing the driver. The Hill Descent Control  system works well, too, and proves the effectiveness of the Jimny's new electronic systems. We can’t think of another car of this price that’ll do so well when the going gets tough.