What is it?
The Suzuki Jimny was a star that shone bright and hot and then – in an instant – was gone. Released back in 2018, the little Jimny experienced huge demand – Suzuki couldn’t get enough of them to the UK quick enough – but tightening emissions regulations meant that, just like that, the Jimny was having too much of a negative impact on Suzuki’s targets and couldn’t be sold.
But the Japanese car maker wasn’t letting the little Jimny go just like that. No, it announced that it would be re-releasing the small 4×4 as a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) since they operate under different emissions regulations. So here we are – the Jimny, re-born. Let’s see what it’s like.
Everything has been kept largely the same in the commercial Jimny. The engine, chassis and four-wheel-drive system are all the same ones you’d find on the standard car, while its dinky looks have been retained too. There’s just one specification to choose from and you still get the same range of advanced safety features as before.
The main change here is that the rear seats have been ditched to offer up to 863 litres of storage area – 33 more than the passenger version could offer when the rear seats were folded flat. There’s also a safety partition to stop objects from flying into the forward cabin.
Oh, and numbers are going to be extremely limited. In fact, Suzuki has only been able to bag 480 for the UK this year – though it’s sure that more will come as 2022 rolls around.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Jimny uses a robust 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, sending power to the wheels via a five-speed gearbox and Suzuki’s AllGripPro four-wheel-drive system. In total you get a heady 100bhp and 130Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-60mph time of around 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 90mph.
Suzuki refrained from fitting one of its BoosterJet engines to the Jimny as it felt that off-road drivers would prefer the instant throttle response brought by the naturally aspirated engine. This makes sense when you drive the Jimny off-road, but does mean that on-road manners are seriously compromised. In terms of efficiency, you should see 35.8mpg and emissions of 178g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
We tested the Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle in its natural habitat – a full off-road course in south Wales. Here, the plucky Jimny makes real sense. It bounds and sprints over difficult terrain and clambers up steep slopes thanks to a combination of grippy tyres and a simple low-range gearbox. The high-revving engine also gives you plenty of options when it comes to hill climbing; you’re free to leave it in gear and let it rev out while you journey up a gradient.
The gearbox is short and easy to use – much like the clutch – and though the Jimny’s ladder chassis isn’t the most nuanced, it’s been fitted because it is robust and strong. Given that it has become a commercial vehicle, this seems even more fitting than before.
How does it look?
The Jimny’s original design was pretty much spot-on, so you can understand why it’s been kept the same for this commercial version. It’s square and boxy, but despite its dinky proportions brings a huge amount of presence. Park the Jimny near even the most flamboyant of supercars and it’s more than likely that eyes will be on the Suzuki instead.
But the Jimny’s looks are dictated by its off-road abilities. Short overhangs give good approach and departure angles, while the small wheels mean that you’ve got better rock-hopping skills. As an example of a car’s style being dictated by its predicted use, the Jimny is right up there.
What’s it like inside?
Hard-wearing and utilitarian, the Jimny’s cabin is one that looks more than up to the job of being used as a rough-and-tough commercial vehicle. There are large, chunky controls and easy-to-operate functions, while the original car’s screen has been ditched in favour of a simple radio setup. You still get a multifunction steering wheel, mind you, so it hasn’t all been left to its bare bones.
The removal of the rear seats gives the Jimny a greater sense of practicality than before. In truth, the regular Jimny’s boot was essentially useless unless you were taking something very light and very thin, so the decision to take out the rear chairs for this commercial version is a logical one. It’s coated in hard-wearing material, too, so you won’t have to worry about chucking goods back there.
What’s the spec like?
As we’ve already highlighted, the Jimny is available in just a single specification. However, you still get DAB digital radio, that aforementioned multifunction steering and air conditioning fitted as standard, as well as 15-inch steel wheels.
Given that it costs just under £17,000 before VAT – or £19,999 including it – the Jimny commercial doesn’t command a huge chunk of cash, while those who are desperate to get their hands on the little off-roader will no doubt see some of the drawbacks in terms of specification a worthwhile sacrifice to get their hands on some of the last new Jimny models.
The Jimny LCV feels like more of a celebration than anything. The passenger model felt like such a positive car and one that more than exceeded expectations, so its early demise was a shame felt across the industry. That it can live on a little longer is a happy thing indeed.
It still has its foibles, of course, but for many people – be that those in the farming trade or off-road enthusiasts – these will pale in comparison to the joy of owning a Jimny. With such a small number coming to the UK they’ll be a rare sight on our roads. But we guarantee that the person you see behind the wheel will be grinning.
Model: Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle
Base price: £16,797 ex. VAT
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
Max speed: 90mph
0-60mph: 10.5 seconds (est)
Emissions: 178g/km CO2