BACK in 2009 adventurer and author Carl Roberts achieved the impossible: he and a mate drove from Cooktown to Cape York in a pair of bog-standard Suzuki Jimnys.
Until then, the belief was that one needed a boofy 4WD with knobbly tyres and beefed up suspension, winches and what not to do the arduous trip.
But the Jimnys bounced and waded their way there and back without stressing.
Now Suzuki has produced an all-new Jimny, retaining the retro styling that its many fans are sure to love, paired with a modernised cabin with all the electronic wizardry du jour, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and yes, it remains a proper off-roader at its core.
The new one is 45mm wider and sits on a redesigned ladder-frame chassis, incorporating an X member between the axles to improve torsional rigidity, and gaining new coil springs and shocks.
For those intending to repeat Carl’s drive to Cape York, ground clearance has been raised 20mm to 210mm, with the approach, break over and departure angles increasing to 37, 28 and 49 degrees respectively, from 35, 27 and 46.
Unlike any of the other modern compact SUVs, the Jimny has a traditional four-wheel-drive system with a transfer case, which Suzuki calls ‘all-grip pro’ and it packs other modern features such as ESP stability control, autonomous emergency braking, a limited slip diff, hill descent control, lane departure warning, six airbags, high beam assist, reversing camera and LED headlights.
Power windows too – and cruise control, not to mention a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, a two-speaker stereo plus Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
Under the bonnet, the previous 1.3-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a new 1.5-litre unit, still normally aspirated but producing a more useful 75kW and 130Nm and mated to a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
As well there’s digital climate control, satnav, daytime running lights, privacy glass, and you get a choice of six colours: kinetic yellow, jungle green, medium grey, superior white and blue and ivory metallics, the latter incurring a $500 surcharge – and for $1250 extra you can get a Jimny in two-tone.
Prices seem quite attractive at $23,990 plus on-roads for the manual or $25,990 for the auto.
The vehicle scored three stars in crash safety, one star better than the Ford Mustang, which is the runaway sales leader in its class. Go figure.
The new one’s a big step up from Carl’s 2009 model, with luxuries he wouldn’t have dreamt of, but it’s certain to do anything the original giant-killing Jimny could do. Well, certainly in the manual.
It has a big warranty a too: five years, unlimited distance and fuel economy obviously depends on whether it’s used as a city commuter or a Cape York adventurer, but the official claim is 6.4litres/100km for the manual and 0.5 more for the auto.
Carl produced a CD of his 2009 run to Cape York and still has a few left. They’re $20 each, plus postage, and if you want to see what he went through you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Great soundtrack too.
But there’s the talk of the Department of Marmalade planning to seal the route to Cape York, so you’d better go sooner than later if that’s your cup of Darjeeling.
We reckon that despite their capabilities, most Jimnys will stay within city limits.