UNCERTAIN: The new Suzuki Jimny GLX . . . automatic choice; distant dream?

By DEREK OGDEN, Marque Motoring

Picking up the new Jimny press car, I asked the Suzuki man when a prospective buyer would be able to take delivery of the test car variant, a GLX three-door automatic.

“Try next year,” he replied.

Suzuki Australia also said unprecedented demand and the global computer chip issue, have stalled the MY23 Jimny three-door automatic until production catches up.

Customers with an order already inked, can keep waiting or switch to the bigger five-door, due Down Under later this year.

The three-door Lite manual is still available to order.

The Jimny has six variants, from the Jimny Lite manual, at $30,490, plus on-road costs, through to the Jimny GLX auto.

Like all Suzukis, it’s distributed in Queensland separately from those in the rest of Australia.

Like all present-day Suzuki cars, the Jimny is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five-year capped-price service scheme, the latter at 12 months or 10,000-kilometre intervals.

There’s a nod to Jimny’s heritage with hallmark round headlamps, while washers now are standard for the LED headlights.

These, plus angled bumper edges that boost clearance at the wheels, make for confident driving in mud, dirt or sand and assured climbing over obstacles such as rocks or fallen trees.

Their moulded black material safeguards the body from stone chips and scratches.

A nifty drip rail keeps occupants’ heads sheltered when getting in or out of the Jimny by helping to prevent water from dripping off the roof.

The Jimny cabin is welcoming, especially to the driver, with instruments and controls all within easy access and designed to enable he or she to focus on maintaining control with quick and easy operation.

Instruments are designed to be easily legible in bright sunlight or shadow, being lit at all times.

A touch of luxury is added with a leather dressed steering wheel, which again benefits the driver with vertical adjustment up to 35 mm.

Access to the rear seats is not so accommodating, with only two doors up front, although the front seats slide for easy operation.

Space is at a premium, with room only for a couple of compact occupants in anything approaching comfort.

Boot volume is 85 litres with the rear seats set up.

The two 50:50 rear seat backs, headrests removed, can be folded flat leaving 377 litres for cargo.

Instrumentation is basic, with a 9-inch system allowing access to an AM / FM tuner, Bluetooth, USB audio and reverse camera.

Satellite navigation is left to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone connectivity.

The new 1.5-litre engine, mated with its four-speed automatic transmission, stumps up more power and torque than the motor it replaces, while maintaining fuel efficiency.

The stronger torque levels are delivered across the rev range with plenty on tap low down; handy for serious off-road situations. Towing is rated at 1300 kg with braked trailer.

The Jimny carries only a three-star ANCAP rating. However, some advanced features do earn special mention.

These include dual sensor brake support, in which a camera and laser sensor, attached to the windscreen, provide visual and audio alerts to the driver, warning of risks of collision as well as an emergency braking function.

Total effective control technology consists of a body structured to absorb and disperse the force of impact in the event of a collision, while an electronic stability program monitors wheels, which when detected automatically adjusts engine torque and applies braking force to limit wheel slippage and assist the driver to stay in control of steering.

The new 1.5-litre engine with its refined four-speed auto gearbox, featuring linear shift selection, is claimed to have combined fuel economy of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

The Jimny GLX auto on test recorded 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres around town and 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway.

Like any short wheel-base vehicle, the Jimny, with its off-road suspension setting, tended to produce a choppy ride on even the most unblemished on-road bitumen and concrete.

It’s not a smooth cruiser.

Off road is all about keeping in touch with the terrain, which in this case a sturdy ball-screw steering system provides ample feedback with minimum chance of kickback.

If any wheel loses grip the limited-slip differential traction control automatically applies braking to the culprit, torque being shifted to the other side, enabling the vehicle to regain traction.

Harking back to the cargo carrying capability, the test car came with an added accessory of a wire mesh divider which bolted on between the front and second-row seats, converting the vehicle into a van, alternatively maybe acting as a kennel on wheels for Fido.

Sadly, the wire wall was heavy and awkward to fit via the side doors – a two-handed job, really.

Over the years, the mini-SUV has become something of a cult figure with its retro looks, while claiming to be a genuine 4×4. Followers need not fret, there’s plenty here to carry on the Jimny tradition.

If only there was one to spare.