Double Apex was invited to the national media ride-and-drive event of the all-new Suzuki Jimny five-door.
Suzuki Auto SA (SASA) has been a perennial front-runner on the passenger car sales charts. In part, this is a result of offering good products at affordable prices. At the very top of the local Suzuki line-up is the Jimny.
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The affable little SUV is well-known by most, even those who may not know any other Suzuki product. The local range has now been bolstered by the recent introduction of the Suzuki Jimny five-door. This is the first time in the model’s 50-year history that the Japanese automaker has chosen to build a fived door version.
The Suzuki Jimny five-door is quite similar to its smaller sibling. It has the same boxy lines, the same visage and high-up stance. Suzuki engineers have added 340 mm to the wheelbase. This, in turn, allowed for the addition of two rear doors and a resultant increase in legroom, as well as a slight increase in luggage volume. However, the rear quarters accommodate just two passengers, not three.
From a mechanical point of view the larger Jimny has additional chassis bracing as well as an expected heftier propshaft. The suspension has also been beefed up and the front brakes uprated to deal with the slightly higher mass.
The powertrain and driveline are carried over from the three-door Jimny. Under the clamshell bonnet is a 1,5 litre petrol engine. The naturally aspirated unit produces 75 kW of power along with 130 N.m of torque.
New owners can choose between a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission. Torque is directed to the rear axle by default. However, this proper little SUV has a transfer case that allows drivers to engage all four wheels, as well as a low-range gear set.
Click here to read about the Suzuki Fronx, a new small crossover.
SASA was keen to highlight the Jimny five-door with a unique ride-and-drive event. To this end they arranged an extended drive that started in Polokwane and headed north over the border in to Botswana.
The roads near the border are, to put it mildly, not great. At some points it makes sense to drive on the hard shoulder rather than on the broken tar. We wondered if it makes more sense to just grade the remaining tar to turn it into a gravel track.
Anyway, the Suzuki Jimny five-door handled these sections with aplomb. This excursion was our first in a Jimny, so we didn’t have a reference point of the shorter three-door variant. However, experience tells us that a car with a 340 mm shorter wheelbase would have been all over the place. This sentiment was echoed by those in attendance who have experienced both body styles of the Jimny in similar conditions.
Off the Beaten Path
Once we entered our neighbouring country the convoy of multi-coloured SUVs steered clear of any sealed roads. The pre-arranged route took us from rough and smooth gravel into dried up river beds, through muddy tracks and negotiating rock-strewn sections.
At no point during the extended off-road trip did any of the cars falter, there wasn’t so much as a scuffed wheel or flat tyre. The off-road prowess of the Jimny has in no way been diminished by the additional length, There is, of course, a slightly different breakover angle (24 degrees), but the 210 mm of ground clearance remains a handy ally, as does low-range.
Adding another pair of doors to the already popular Jimny has done two things. Firstly, it has increased its appeal to a wider potential buyer group. More space should place it on the shopping list of anyone who wanted a Jimny, but the three-door version was just too small.
Secondly, the lengthened wheelbase has made it a far more comfortable prospect. Both are very good things. Our first experience of the Jimny left us thoroughly impressed. As a result, we now understand the cult-like following of the little off-roader. The Suzuki Jimny five-door will, undoubtedly, help add to SASA’s monthly sales tally.
Suzuki Jimny Five-Door Pricing
GL manual R429,900
GLX manual R457 900
GLX automatic R479 900