Suzuki Jimny Sierra 2008 — Road Test


‘No frills’ is an expression that gets thrown around a lot, usually with negative connotations. Being no frills isn’t always a bad thing. No frills can mean saving money, or getting more for your budget. At the supermarket my mother would often explain to me that products labelled ‘Basic’ and ‘Home Brand’ are the same goods just without the fancy packaging. I always struggled to understand this theory. Exactly how could something look the same and taste the same but be so much cheaper simply due to low cost packaging. After driving the Suzuki Jimny Sierra, it’s a concept I’ve finally come to grips with.

The Jimny is priced at just $20,500 straight off the shelf, there are few new compact 4wds around for this price and it is naturally one of the vehicle’s most attractive characteristics. Suzuki has shown with the Swift that it’s come to play in the low cost car bracket. Although it’s unlikely the Jimny will ever mirror the Swift’s success, it still has some moves all its own.

Aesthetically the Jimny has plenty of character; the exterior styling is modern but suitably square, purposeful and strong. Walk around the front of the vehicle, look it in the eye and it glares back. Wrapped up in bright colour-coded paintwork it has a contrasting gloss finish on the panels but a matt finish on the plastics. Large wing-mirrors and chunky bumpers confirm the look of a large off-roader that was left in the clothes dryer too long and came out ultra-compact. Despite the Jimny’s diminutive size, visibility is very good thanks to generous glass and a good seating position, the only exception is a wide B-pillar which can create a blind spot with poor mirror positioning.

Open up the packet and the Jimny’s interior is basic but functional and seamlessly maintains the themes of a tough 4WD vehicle. The plastics look and feel hardy, and the instrument cluster is well-positioned and easy to read. The seats are comfortable but could offer more support especially if you’re planning on bumping around off-road. There is no escaping the Jimny’s size: it is a very small vehicle, and not built with big lads (like myself) in mind. The driver’s seat only travelled back far enough to be comfortable on the last click, and space between my right shoulder and the window was minimal. The Jimny is only 1.6m in width so with 2 big blokes in the vehicle, shoulders are nearly touching and knees can knock the gearstick. The back seat is small but can fit two adults, though anything more than a short trip may become cramped. Behind the rear seats there is very little storage space and anything more than a couple of grocery bags would require the rear seats to be folded down.

Turn the key and the Jimny springs into life, a 1.3-litre engine may sound lightweight but so is everything else, and with a kerb weight of only 1060kg, 63kW of power is enough¦just. You’re not going to be challenging anyone to a drag from the lights, but the Jimny has some pep when worked hard through the gears. The Jimny is thrifty with a combined economy figure of 7.3L/100km. The gearbox makes a satisfying click and the clutch engages where expected, making the Jimny a very easy vehicle to drive. The handling is a definite improvement over older models, but can still provide a lively experience on bendy roads. The Jimny has a  narrow width high ride height combination that can reflect in its driving habits. However, its honest steering response and body movement telegraph any instability early and the driver can make adjustment accordingly.

Off-road is where the Jimny proves it’s no shopping trolley, boasting a 4wd capability that Suzuki admits excels that of its flagship Grand Vitara model. On the label Suzuki calls it ‘Drive Action 4×4 with Air Locking Hub’ this means the Jimny can change between 4WD and 2WD with a switch in the cabin, and this can be done while moving. This combined with a ladder-type chassis and a dual ratio transfer case as standard puts the Jimny on a higher shelf than many competitors who lack a low range.

During my time with the Jimny I happened to drive with my mother, she took a shine to the vehicle immediately. I explained to her a few of the features I thought the Jimny was missing, like rear stereo speakers and a boot blind. She replied simply that she didn’t need all that stuff, and it suddenly made sense. The Jimny doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to impress, it’s unashamedly no frills and priced accordingly, that is its strength. So if you’re on a budget, you want to be a bit different and you occasionally leave the tarmac behind, then grab the Jimny and proceed to the checkout immediately.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Jimny Sierra.

Price: from $20,500

Things we like

  • A very affordable new car
  • Off road maestro
  • Fun exterior styling

Things we don’t like

  • Isn’t one size fits all
  • No curtain airbag and paper thin doors give a feeling of vulnerability for occupants
  • Could use a touch more pace
Overall length mm 3645
Overall width mm 1600
Overall height mm 1670 1705
Wheelbase mm 2250
Track Front mm 1355
Track Rear mm 1365
Ground Clearance mm 190
Minimum turning radius m 4.9
Curb weight kg Manual 1060 Manual 1060 / Auto 1075
Gross vehicle weight kg 1420
Type M13A with VVT
Cylinders 4
Number of valves 16
Displacement cc 1328
Bore X stroke 78.0 x 69.5
Compression ratio 9.5 : 1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 63/6000
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 110/4100
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection
Fuel Consumption – Urban Litres/100km 9.1 Manual 9.1 / Auto 9.6
Fuel Consumption – Extra- Urban Litres/100km 6.1 Manual 6.1 / Auto 6.4
Fuel Consumption – Combined Litres/100km 7.2 Manual 7.2 / Auto 7.6
Part time drive action 4 x 4 High/low ratio transfer gears
Final drive ratio 4300 Manual 4300 / Auto 4090
Transfer gear ratio High Manual 1000 Manual 1000 / Auto 1320
Low Manual 2002 Manual 2002 / Auto 2643
Type Manual 5 – speed
Automatic N/A 4 – speed
Steering Ball and recirculating
Suspension Front 3-link with coil spring rigid axle
Rear 3-link with coil spring rigid axle
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Drum, leading & trailing
Tyres 205/70R15
Seating 4
Fuel tank (unleaded 95) Litres 40

Words Adam Mamo, photography Darren Cottingham

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