meninblack

Jeepster! It's a car, Jim(ny), but not as we know it

21 posts in this topic

So, I spent the weekend away in the little Jimny - after calling various friends and relatives to tell them to be sure to leave loads of parking space for my mahoosive new SUV... :D

new-1.jpgnew-4.jpg

So here it is: the third generation of Suzuki's miniature off-roaders; a 2001 model with 51k miles on the clock in a rather fetching shade of blue.

The previous generation was known in most markets as the Samurai. Given its USP of being tiny, cheap and a bit crap, I don't imagine this went down too well with Japan's warrior knights! :nerves: The new name may be deeply silly, but only risks offending Jimminy Cricket - and the Suzuki could take Jimminy Cricket in a fight. Probably.

The car really is surprisingly tiny: 16 inches shorter than the MX-5 and 12 inches narrower. This translates to a somewhat cramped cabin, especially in the rear where the two seats have to share the width with the wheel arches. Only for kids then - which is just as well because only kids would be athletic enough to get in and out. Alternatively, fold down the rear seats for a two-seater with a reasonable boot. With the seats in place, the load space is less than 12 inches long.

Front passengers fare a bit better, although the seats remind you of those trips back to your primary school - they kind of look like chairs, but are somewhat smaller! Unlike previous generations, the dashboard and controls are car-like rather than WWII Jeep-like. There is even a rev-counter. Unlike Julian's Pug, you are unlikely to be bewlidered by the array of switchgear on offer. There are old-fashioned sliders for the heater (no air con until the 2005 model year), big buttons for hazards and rear fogs, smaller buttons for the electric windows (:shock:) and mirrors (:shock::shock:) and stalks for the indicators/lights and wipers. Just in case you were getting complacent, the stalks are the opposite way round to most modern vehicles, with the indicators on the right in the traditional RHD style.

There is an ugly and non-adjustable steering wheel, a looong gear lever, and a shorter auxiliary gear lever for the 4WD and low-ratio box. Unlike many off roaders, the Suzuki is normally in 2-wheel drive (RWD) with the 4WD option being for off-road use only. There's no centre differential (no room!) so transmission wind-up would rapidly become an issue if you used the 4WD on tarmac. The front axles are always driven, with the front hubs normally freewheeling. Pulling the lever to position 1 locks the front hubs, position 2 changes into low ratio.

The non-adjustable wheel means that unless you have very long arms you will be sitting kind of upright. Fear not - the Jimny offers enough headroom for James to drive it while wearing Abe Lincoln's hat - albeit he'd probably get his knees jammed under the steering wheel. The standard stereo got a panning from road testers, but mine has a powerful - and surprisingly good - after-market Sony CD/radio fitted.

Opening the bonnet - provided you can find the bonnet release, hidden in the glovebox - reveals what Suzuki optimistically refer to as the engine. Up until 2001, the Jimny used the ancient SOHC 1.3 four from the SJ13, developping a less-than-impressive 79 bhp. Indeed, this soldiered on in the Spanish-made soft-top until 2005. My car has the all-new unit for 2001, a DOHC 16-valve four with variable valve timing. Despite the extra moving parts, the power output only went up to 81 bhp. :( And it's no more economical. :x 2005 cars get an uplift of a further 3 bhp, presumably to drive the optional air-con.

So what's it like on the road, eh? :upgrade:

Performance: well, have a guess. That's right - it's feeble. In theory 0-60 comes up in a bit more than 16 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 87 mph. In practice it's lively enough up to 40 mph, but has very little urge in either 4th or 5th gears. On a nice, smooth surface with no crosswinds you can wind it up to about 70 mph before you start to break out in a cold sweat and the screams of your terrified passengers become audible above the whine of the engine and transmission. Slight surface undulations taken at 70+ mph might cause those of a nervous disposition to actually shit themselves as the little heep darts nervously from one crest to the next, sometimes sideways. Crosswinds are equally terrifying. All in all, 50-55 mph is a more relaxing pace on most roads.

Handling: ho-de-ho! Turning the steering wheel results in quite a lot of nothing at all, follwed suddenly and unpredictably by a violent dart in the direction of turn. Straighten up, and it will (eventually) dart back the other way. For best results, treat it like a Harley in bends. Anticipate, choose your line in advance, arrive at the bend at the right speed and drive through it smoothly on a constant, gentle throttle. Of course you should always drive like this - but some vehicles give you other options. Needless to say, cornering is accompanied by massive amounts of body roll.

Ride comfort: the suspension is rock hard and not very well damped, none of which seems to help control body roll. Maybe the shell isn't rigidly mounted to the (separate) chassis? Who knows. There is plenty of suspension movement and ground clearance, so it handles road humps - except that the short wheel base means that the rear wheels hit the hump while the front suspension is still compressed, leading to a kind of bunny-hop over the obstacle. At higher speeds I reckon you could get it airborne.

Economy: about 30 mpg so far. Better than most 4WDs, worse then most cars.

Overall: it's not really a car. It's a small farm vehicle which happens to be road legal. They are reputed to be pretty good off road, I'll let you know after I've fitted some more aggressive tyres. :D Not nearly as bad as you might think though - fine around town, dead easy to fit through tiny gaps and to park, and quite usable on the open road as long as you use a bit of common sense. It's comfy enough to drive, just avoid big bumps and potholes. The car will handle them, your spine may not.

Should I buy one? Probably not, no. :nup:

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World-wide, I think they are aimed at people who want to get about despite poor road conditions, lack of proper roads, snow, etc - without spending much money. In the UK 4WDs have become a fashion item, so they are misguidedly bought by people who probably would have been much happier with a Vitara or a RAV-4.

The soft-top was aimed at people in warmer climes, but again in the UK was mostly bought as a fashion item.

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We hired something similar for 3 days while on hols in Ibiza. Great fun, and usefully we were able to have it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (out of season). Which meant we could forget about how uncomfortable it was...

Don't think I'd want one for everyday use.

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For some reason I like them, drove one, hated it, still like them.

I guess it's because it's styled like a toy car, or one you drew with a crayon when you were 2-3 years old!

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So, would I be correct in summarising that it has the slowness, noisiness and discomfort of an ancient Land Rover, but without the style, stability, off-road ability and general "Git orf moy laaaand you bloody townie" attitude, but better fuel consumption?

;-)

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I trust you will be buying the obligatory shagging rhino spare wheel cover for yours?

I am pleased you have bought it. Going to the effort of buying a car for the snow should be a talismanic enough gesture to ensure we don't see anything more unpleasant than a hard frost between now and April.

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Excellent review Meninblack, as owner of a 2007 model I recognise much of what you have written.

I bought mine brand new simply to get me on and off our hillside in winter when the snow / ice is here, and to tow a small trailer for garden rubbish and the like. It does that job superbly well and equally as well as the other 4wd cars I have owned (Rav 4, Vitara short and long wheelbase, Freelander, and Discovery) at a fraction of the cost to buy and run. I bought mine with a view to keeping it for a minimum of 10 years and by next March we will be at half that timespan.

Anybody who buys one as a daily runner must be mad, but short journeys over difficult terrain / road conditions are where its at with this vehicle.

Mine has just covered 5000miles in almost 4.5 years of ownership. Would I want to go on a driving holiday in it? NO would I want to commute any distance to work in it on a daily basis? NO but as an occasional driver to ensure I can get up and down my hill to work its excellent.

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So, would I be correct in summarising that it has the slowness, noisiness and discomfort of an ancient Land Rover, but without the style, stability, off-road ability and general "Git orf moy laaaand you bloody townie" attitude, but better fuel consumption?

;-)

:^ Correct. Also costs significantly less for a good runner, takes up less space and won't fall to bits while it's going along. :P

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Anybody who buys one as a daily runner must be mad, but short journeys over difficult terrain / road conditions are where its at with this vehicle.

Mine has just covered 5000miles in almost 4.5 years of ownership. Would I want to go on a driving holiday in it? NO would I want to commute any distance to work in it on a daily basis? NO but as an occasional driver to ensure I can get up and down my hill to work its excellent.

Yep - it's an emergency snow vehicle and round-town winter hack. I have other cars to do those other things!

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Now that MIBBY owns this "car" it really does give the rest of us free reign to drive whatever the fek we want without fear of having the piss taken.

Dana wrote:

I just bought a 1987 FSO Polonez..

Everyone else wrote:

WTF, you twat.

Dana Wrote..

Two words.. "MIBBY" and "JIMNY"....

Everyone else wrote.

God christ yeah,, yeah, fair point, nice purchase Dana, how does it compare to the S2000?

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Yep - it's an emergency snow vehicle and round-town winter hack. I have other cars to do those other things!

You would say that. :whistle:

So the conversation goes: "A friend wants to buy a Jimny..." :D

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Everyone else wrote.

God christ yeah,, yeah, fair point, nice purchase Dana, how does it compare to the S2000?

Actually quite well really... It's very smooth over speed bumps, and I don't have to be worried about being outdragged by ageing Suzuki's or getting car-jacked in High Wycombe every week... ;-):D

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