Like many of you I’m sure, I cut my teeth in the four-wheel drive game behind the wheel of a Suzuki Sierra. I worked every weekend, and public holiday I could to save for my dream car, and ended up buying a clapped out SWB Sierra for the grand sum of $1200 at the age of 16, and promptly began modifying it.
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She was rough but solid, and just needed a gearbox and clutch replacement to be perfect again. I’ll never forget the first drive, the windows rattling in their channels so violently I was sure they would shatter, the ride was so stiff you would think the shock absorbers were welded shut, and the noise from the soft-top made me feel I was driving a tent. But it was so much fun – I was hooked!
It’s no surprise then, that I can’t drive a normal car. I get bored. Which is why I keep going back to trucks like Zooks and older HiLuxs that have heart, soul and character. Which translates to rattles, rust, and broken parts according to my long-suffering wife. But when you’re smiling so much who cares what people say? Or so I used to think…
I was asked to do a comparison on the New Jimny after Unsealed 4X4 recently road tested one. As always, the editor wanted an honest perspective of the new model from someone who has owned more Suzukis than pairs of shoes, a truthful statistic that I am not proud of.
I was worried that the fun factor would be replaced with cup-holders, air-conditioning and a tacky plastic interior. Well, lets just say not only am I blown away by how much heart and soul the Jimny has retained, but I genuinely want to buy one. Here are ten reasons why I feel the latest Jimny Sierra is perhaps the best four-wheel drive Suzuki has ever manufactured.
1 IT’S STILL A SIERRA
One look underneath and I was transported back to 1988 in the best possible way. The chassis is still very Sierra-like and off-road ability is definitely the name of the game here. Coil springs, full-ladder chassis, a dual-range transfer case and live axles front and rear make this ‘ere Zook-loving journo a happy lad.
2 CUP HOLDERS
Yeah I was paying them out before, but only out of ignorance. Having somewhere to put a drink while bouncing around the tracks is a pretty cool novelty for an old Zooker like myself. Sierras barely have seats let alone luxury items, so the entire interior was a comfortable and pleasant surprise. Special mention must also go to the amount of headroom available, I’m over six-feet tall and had more than enough space.
Again, I know I ragged on creature comforts at the start of this article and the old Sierra owner in me is screaming IF IT’S HOT JUST TAKE THE TOP OFF. Screw that guy, air-con rocks!
4 AUTOMATIC GEARBOX
I loved the auto! Initially it was thought the 1.3L engine would be a slug with the slushbox and a 5-speed would be the only way to achieve decent highway speeds, but it is actually really well paired to the 1.3L engine. In-fact, the Jimny was only revving at 3100rpm while doing 110kmph on the highway, which is lower than most small cars. Once on the dirt, the auto was in its element too, offering far more control in technical situations over a cog-swapper.
5 RECLINING BACK SEAT
Zooks are fun, so it’s inevitable that passengers will want to come for a ride. But the idea of squeezing two full-size mates in the back of a Sierra… well let’s just say they probably aren’t good mates of yours if you even consider it. The Jimny has split-folding rear seats, which further recline to allow for more room when carrying passengers. It’s the simple things, and I found this to be a very clever use of space.
6 IT CAN DO THE SPEED LIMIT
Driving a Sierra on the highway is a lesson in patience, and can be flat out draining. I couldn’t help but chuckle while comfortably sitting in the Jimny cruising at the speed limit, the air-con blasting and power steering ironing any kicks out of the road surface. I drive over 100km to work each day, and the Jimny handled the commute without a hiccup.
7 BOOT SPACE
Calling it a boot is like calling a soft-top Suzuki a convertible sports car. The Sierra of old had just enough storage space to tuck in a snatch strap. The Jimny, however, swallowed a weekly shopping trip with ease and also passed the all-important consumer test: A case of beer fits without having to fold the seats down.
8 CHEAP TO RUN BUT NOT CHEAP
Most Suzuki’s are cheap to run, but after driving a GU Patrol for the last few weeks, it was so refreshing to put $20 worth of unleaded in a 4X4 and see half a tank appear on the digital dash gauge. Oh, half a tank would see me drive between 200km and 250km before the fuel light would come on. This is a very affordable car to run and own, and that is before you even consider it is a capable four-wheel drive with an impressive list of standard features. Even these flash alloy wheels looked really well made, and genuinely enhanced the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.
9 FACTORY ROOF RAILS
There isn’t much room inside (more than a Sierra though) so being able to maximise space is important. While mucking around one day, I concluded the Jimny would carry my large double swag, and single kayak on the roof with just a set of readily available bolt-on roof rack cross bars that would then accept a vehicle mounted awning. So all that needs to fit inside is a fridge and some clothes and you are set for a weekend at the beach with one or two people. Whoever says you need a full-size wagon to go touring just isn’t trying hard enough.
10 IT’S STILL BUILT IN JAPAN
Enough said really, Japan knows how to build a quality automobile and Suzuki has avoided following the rest of the pack by shipping production off to Thailand. If you shop around you will be able to find a Jimny brand new for sub $20k. So you could either buy a small run-around hatchback from a lesser-known manufacture, or this pocket sized off-roader that also functions well as a small car. The decision is an easy one to make for me, but what else can I say…
My name is Evan and I’m a Zookaholic.
Words by Evan Spence