In-depth reviews

Suzuki Jimny (2018-2020) review - Engines, performance and drive

The Suzuki Jimny is a car designed to excel on rutted tracks and muddy lanes, which compromises handling on the road

Built to cope with some of the most challenging off-road routes, deepest streams and highest mountains, the new Suzuki Jimny simply can’t match the best crossovers for on-road handling.

All versions come with ALLGRIP Pro all-wheel drive as standard, with three settings: 2H, 4H and 4L. In normal driving, the Jimny is driven via the rear wheels only but, in case you wondering, this is no sports car. While it feels much more secure than the old Jimny, it still rolls through the corners, shimmying over rough tarmac and potholes.

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Out on the motorway, the Jimny’s struggles are even more apparent. The standard-fit five-speed manual box and short gearing mean the engine is quite noisy at 70mph, while the limited power ensures you’ll need to plan your overtakes more carefully than you might in one of the Suzuki’s turbocharged rivals. Still, road noise and wind noise are well suppressed, so keep things below 50mph and it’s a relatively refined place to be. It’s difficult at this stage to comment on ride comfort, as our road route across Germany was confined to smooth, ripple-free tarmac.

Given its small size, you’d expect the Suzuki Jimny to be well suited to town driving. However, the steering is slow and vague, which makes parking and low-speed manoeuvres quite tricky; if you don’t wind the lock off quickly, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the road.

Where the Suzuki Jimny really shows its worth, is off-road. We completed a relatively challenging course in a private forest in Germany and were blown away by how easy it was to drive. There’s loads of ground clearance and plenty of grip, while the low range gearbox setting, hill hold and hill descent control systems make light work of rougher ground and steeper slopes. Yes, the soft suspension throws you around, but there’s very little that can stop the terrifyingly tough Jimny out in the wild.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Suzuki Jimny is offered with just one engine option – and things are likely to stay that way for some time. The sole 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol produces 100bhp and 130Nm of torque; a top speed of 90mph is achievable but there's no official 0-62mph time at present – somewhere in the region of 13 seconds is realistic.

Due to the car’s low kerbweight, it feels sprightly enough. There are two gearbox options: a five-speed manual and a four-speed auto. We’ve only tried the manual model for the time being, and while it is responsive enough in the lower gears, the short fifth cog means it is noisy at motorway speeds. A sixth gear would improve things in this regard.

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