REVIEW | New Five-door Suzuki Jimny is all grown up but still cute as a bug

The size-up has made the cult 4x4 a more family-friendly and smooth-riding car without impinging on its cherubic charm

20 November 2023 - 13:57
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Voila, a family-sized Jimny.
Voila, a family-sized Jimny.
Image: Colin Mileman

There was a fear that introducing a larger, five-door Suzuki Jimny would make the little 4x4 lose some of its mini-Hummer “cuteness”. The three-door Jimny’s tiny size has played a major role in making it a cult car and owners have been willing to live with a boot the size of a post box because of its endearing tonka-toy looks, relative affordability and larger-than-life off-road skills.

The new five-door version just launched in South Africa has grown a sizeable 34cm longer (the width and height remain the same) and gained two extra doors to provide easier access to the rear seat, which is sizeable enough for a pair of adults.

Boot space has increased from 59to 209l and the rear seat backs fold down in a 50/50 split to boost boot size to a useful 332l. Voila, a family-sized Jimny that can take a reasonable amount of luggage.

The front seats in five-door models can fold completely flat and integrate with the rear seats to offer two lay-flat beds, allowing overlanders to sleep in their vehicles.

In pictures the stretched Jimny has lost some of its cherubic charm and become a little more slab-sided, but the effect is less evident when seen in the metal, as I did on a two-day adventure hosted by Suzuki in Limpopo and the Tuli Block in Botswana last week.

It may not have the puppy cuteness of the three-door, but when you stand next to the five-door Jimny the short and boxy car still looks endearingly diminutive. It is still only 3.8m long, making it shorter than most small hatchbacks.

The Jimny is built for adventure trails.
The Jimny is built for adventure trails.
Image: Colin Mileman

The new, longer Jimny trades some trail-taming skills for practicality, but only marginally. The five-door has the same 210mm ground clearance but because of its extra length it has a smaller breakover angle (24 vs 28 degrees), approach angle (36 vs 37°) and departure angle (47 vs 49°) and a slightly larger turning circle. But these small differences did not seem to hamper the car in our Botswana off-road excursion. The longer Jimny scurried through bumpy dongas and sandy river beds like a meerkat and never threatened to get stuck.

Like the three-door Jimny, it has an AllGrip system that transforms it from a rear-wheel-drive to an all-wheel-drive car on the fly, rigid front and rear axles with coil spring suspension for maximum wheel articulation, and a low-range gear and limited-slip differential for taking on more technical turf. The transfer case moves with a smooth shift action and the same applies to the slick five-speed gearshift in the manual car I drove.

The Jimny five-door uses the same 1.5l four-cylinder petrol engine as its three-door sibling. With outputs of 75kW and 130Nm, it is available either as a five-speed manual (GL and GLX grade models) or four-speed (GLX only) automatic.

It is not an engine that gets you anywhere in a particular hurry and the five-door Jimny’s extra 90kg weight further muzzles performance, but there is sufficient power to flit through suburbs and off-road trails.

The open road presents more of a challenge. It is able to cruise at the national speed limit and higher, though 110km/h tends to be its happy place, but generating pace for overtaking manouvres requires some planning. The boxy car is sensitive to cross winds and requires steering corrections to keep it in a straight line.

The five-door Jimny is frugal, with the test vehicle averaging around 6.5l/100km on the open road and just over 8.0l with off-road driving included.

The range-topping GLX has a larger nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system and automatic climate control.
The range-topping GLX has a larger nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system and automatic climate control.
Image: Supplied

With its longer wheelbase the five-door has a smoother, less choppy ride than its smaller sibling. It rides on high-profile 195/80 15-inch tyres that proved yielding and puncture-resistant on heavily potholed roads. With its ladder-frame chassis the Jimny has a robust and solid feel, even when driven on corrugated dirt roads.

The baseline GL model’s standard fare includes front airbags, manual air conditioning, a multifunction steering wheel, trip computer, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and rear park distance control. It also has a rear windscreen wiper, front/rear electric windows and two 12V accessory ports.

The more deluxe GLX model has six airbags, a larger nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, electronically retractable side mirrors, a reversing camera, front fog lamps and automatic LED headlights with a washer system. 

Compared to their three-door counterparts, the five-door Jimny GL carries a R39,000 price premium and the five-door GLX a R41,000 premium.

Pricing for the Suzuki Jimny five-door range:

  • 1.5 GL manual: R429,900;
  • 1.5 GLX manual: R457,900; and
  • 1.5 GLX automatic: R479,900.

Metallic paint is a R1,500 option. Dual-tone paint is a R3,500 option.

Pricing includes a five-year/200,000km warranty and four-year/60,000km service plan. 

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