The compact Suzuki off-roader gets bigger.

Story + Photo Bruce McMahon  

Suzuki’s long Australian story adds a fresh chapter with the pint-sized Jimny taking on an extra pair of doors in 2024. The 5-door Suzuki Jimny – 340mm longer in wheelbase and body than the 3-door version – is a welcome addition to the family of compact off-roaders. It is more convenient, quieter on the road and ride comfort is a touch more settled than its shorter sibling, all without sacrificing any 4WD ability or adding a big price tag.

Suzuki has retained the basic recipe for lightweight 4WDs for 5 decades. Australians were early customers for the Jimnys’ legendary predecessors – the go-almost-anywhere LJ50s in the 1970s. While today there’s a host of modern safety, comfort and convenience gear on board, the bigger Jimny still has a no-nonsense approach to rough and tumble off-roading.

The 5-door runs the same mechanicals as the 3-door, with a 1.5L petrol engine up front, choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and a 2-speed transfer case for 2-wheel drive, 4-high and 4-low. The longer wagon picks up an extra cross-member for the ladder chassis, the auto transmission is stronger, there are upgraded coil springs, reworked shock absorbers and a larger stabiliser bar for the front suspension. The front disc brakes are now ventilated (with rear drum brakes still).

This bigger Jimny remains a most convenient, compact machine for suburbs or scrub. Mechanicals are neatly packed under a handsome, square-jawed body just shy of 4m long, 1645mm wide and a tad lower than the 3-door, at 1720mm tall. Ground clearance is still 210mm; the ramp-over angle (before a vehicle bellies out) is 24 degrees compared with 28 degrees for the 3-door.

This compactness will not be for all travellers. While there’s good room up front for 2, the back seat is also only for 2. Headroom and legroom are good, but there isn’t a great deal of shoulder room. The cargo area, while bigger than before, could be limiting for some and the 50–50 split rear seats do not fold flat. Storage spots for odds and ends around the cabin are also limited.

There are few complaints about the list of standard gear, from air-conditioning and electrically operated windows to a 23cm centre touch-screen for information and entertainment (plus rear camera view) to parking sensors, a lane monitor, cruise control and trip computer. Headlight washers are a smart touch.

The 5-door Suzuki is not an uber-fast machine. There’s 75kW of power at 6000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4000rpm, so, with either manual or auto transmission, some throttle is needed to get off the mark. Once in top gear and sitting around 3000rpm, the wagon canters at an easy 100km/h down highways or dirt tracks for around 7L/100km. Overtaking needs a little more room than in bigger machinery.

Highway or back road, ride comfort is fair and road-holding fine, allowing for some understeer if pushed too hard into turns. It may not be the quietest wagon on the market, yet road and mechanical noise is rarely intrusive. Besides, the ever-cheerful Jimny encourages country drives with windows down and a cowboy song cranked up.

The 5-speed manual is more engaging than the 4-speed auto – better for a quick dash down a dirt road and making the most of the 75kW, but the auto is better suited to work around town or in slow-speed 4-wheel driving. With the manual version, low 4WD can be too quick for crawling over rocks.

Helping out in off-road work are hill descent control and Suzuki’s ALLGRIP PRO, a limited-slip traction control that brakes a slipping wheel to redistribute torque to the opposite wheel. The wagon rides on 15-inch alloy wheels with highway-biased tyres. These are quite capable for a range of 4WD work, but a more aggressive tread pattern would suit more extreme terrain.

There is no mistaking the 5-door Suzuki Jimny’s competence as a capable, albeit compact, off-roader and economical tourer. It may not suit all travellers and all tasks, but the extra length and extra doors add to the convenience of a fit-for-purpose package that’s at home in town or country.

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024