There's a special place in Suzuki's heart for the Jimny. The original version is credited with gaining the manufacturer an important foothold in the global market; something it achieved by being that finest of all things: different. Miniature SUVs might be all the rage today, but in 1970 they weren't exactly thick on the ground. And it is the first and second generation cars that the latest model harks back to as its maker looks to re-establish the Jimny as the first choice for anyone looking for an inoffensively small all-terrainer. So here's what we know about the incoming model...
The previous Jimny's appearance was an unfortunate result of bad timing. It launched in 1997, a good few years before the modern infatuation with compact SUVs really got started; hence the rounded-off and entirely forgettable styling. The new version corrects all that with G-Wagen-style no-nonsense straight edges and a flat clamshell bonnet. It's a business-like as a one-man bivouac - and we like that. It is also a prominent carrier of its own DNA. Those round headlights and independent indicators? They're from the first gen LJ10. The prominent front grille with the vertical struts? Second gen. There's neat, functionality-based features, too - like the drip rails on the roof edges and helpfully big mirrors. Plus there's still a ladder frame chassis underneath, which means that the Jimny's toughness ought to be more than skin deep.
The functional theme continues on the inside, too. "Straightforward, practical and down-to-earth," preaches the press bumf, and that's what you want from the Jimny. With the dials sunk into cubic housings, there's clearly a Casio G-Shock aesthetic at work here, and Suzuki claims to have designed everything with glove-wearing in mind (where have we heard that before?). There's said to be scratch and stain resistance virtually everywhere, while the rear seat backs and boot floor are coated in plastic for easy dirt removal. Don't think cheap; think utilitarian.
Yep, it's got one of those. A 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to be precise, developing 102hp and 95lb ft of torque. If that doesn't sound like much, then it's worth pointing out that the Jimny only burdens its power source with a 1135kg kerbweight, and is not at any rate built for speed. Suzuki quotes 90mph as top speed, and doesn't even bother with a 0-62mph time. The motor is smaller (dimensionally) and lighter than the 1.3-litre motor it replaces, and comes with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto. That's all you need to know, sports fans.
This is where the Jimny seeks to be taken seriously. The ladder frame platform has been strengthened for better torsional rigidity with new cross members, which ought to mean its good for miles of mistreatment. Its approach angle isn't Defender rivalling at 37 degrees, but 49 degrees of departure is laudable, and the model retains its rigid axles with coil springs front and back. It also keeps the part-time 4WD drive system and low range transfer gears that has the driver choosing between 2H (2WD-high gear), 4H (4WD-high gear) and 4L (4WD-low gear) via a shift lever. It is this basic mechanical formula which has repeatedly earned the Jimny its green laning spurs. And if it ain't broke...
Alright, this ought to come under things we haven't learnt because, for now, we're still in the dark. The car is due on sale early next year in the UK, and rumblings suggest that it'll be slightly higher than the outgoing Jimny, which started at £12,999 for an SZ3 and ended up at £15,299 for an automatic SZ4. We should know more about the final spec options and the resulting sticker price by the end of the year. As ever, we'll keep you posted.