Remember a certain Suzuki 4x4 from the '80s-'90s that was all the rage? It was small, cheap, and extremely capable off road? Of course you do—it was the Suzuki Samurai. The Samurai, which is known as the "Jimny" (not to be confused with "Jimmy") in other parts of the world, disappeared from U.S. showrooms in 1995, with the larger Sidekick taking over Suzuki's 4x4 duties in the States.
However, in other parts of the world Suzuki kept producing a subcompact 4x4, and it remains in production today, although much updated from the U.S.-spec Samurai.
The Jimny actually dates back all the way to 1970, when Suzuki offered the little off-roader with a tiny air-cooled, two-cylinder 360cc engine. However, a lot has changed since then. However, the Jimny has remained true to it's core: It's a small, Spartan, off-road capable vehicle that delivers excellent fuel economy.
ENGINE, SUSPENSION, SPECS
The current Jimnys are offered with a choice of 1.3-liter engines (one with variable valve timing, one without) or a 1.5-liter diesel. They feature four-wheel-drive (complete with a 4WD high and 4WD low gearset), a true ladder frame, and solid front and rear axles—the preferred front suspension of off-road enthusiasts. (Currently, only the Jeep Wranger, and heavy-duty pickups such as the Ford Super Duty still offer this robust suspension type in the U.S.).
Fast it ain't. A 0-62 mph jaunt takes between 14.1 and 17.2 seconds depending on engine and transmission choice. However, this little beast is frugal at the pump: Nearly 40mpg on gas; no doubt more with the diesel.
And make no mistake about it: The Jimny is small. Of course, its diminutive size makes it very nimble. Add to these specs its true truck underpinnings and you've got the recipe for a four-wheeled mountain goat. To get an idea of the Jimny's size, here are some spec comparisons between a Jimny and a two-door Jeep Wrangler:
|Suzuki Jimny||Jeep Wrangler (2DR)|
|Curb weight||2,337-2,546 lbs.||3,760-3,785 lbs.|
The Jimny is a popular off-road vehicle in Japan and Europe, and there are plenty of companies offering suspension, engine, and drivetrain upgrades to make these little vehicles extremely capable off the pavement. In fact, a look through Japan's 4x4 Magazine, reveals multiple advertisers selling Jimny upgrades. For example, check out www.imageon.jp, which sells some pretty extreme Jimny upgrades, or www.autocross.co.jp, also offering some serious Jimny products.
JIMNY IN THE U.S.?
Since the Samurai was offered up in the U.S., is there a chance the Jimny could come back to the U.S.? It certainly would be an unfilled niche in the U.S., since there are no more small 4WD vehicles here anymore. Perhaps with a bit more power, some crash testing, and time, the U.S. could see a Jimny ... er Samurai again. I know I'd be in line to get one, as would a lot of off-road enthusiasts looking for an alternative to the Jeep Wrangler.
Global Suzuki: Jimny
4x4 Magazine (Japan)