Suzuki Launches All-New 2019 Jimny in Europe and Japan
Bona Fide Off-Roader Not Slated for U.S. Consumption
The last time Americans got a taste of the subcompact Suzuki Jimny off-roader was 1995, and it was called the Samurai in our market. Since then, the small off-road vehicle market has been a party of one, with the short-wheelbase Jeep Wrangler the only such offering. Unfortunately, that won’t change even as an all-new Suzuki Jimny hits world markets for the 2019 model year.
The 2019 Suzuki Jimny replaces a much-admired design that’s more than 20 years old, but fear not—the new truck carries over everything that made its predecessors so rugged. Chief among these are the compact SUV’s ladder frame and coil-sprung, three-link front and rear solid-axle suspension. Unlike the Suzuki Vitara, which morphed into an all-wheel-drive subcompact crossover when it was redesigned for 2018, the Jimny retains part-time four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case.
Wrapped around that rugged frame will be familiar styling. The 2019 Jimny looks as though it was designed using a T-square, with the only circles in the design being the wheels and headlights. Those headlights (and matching circular turn signals) are said to be a throwback to the first-generation Jimny, which debuted in 1970. The Jimny retains its predecessor’s slatted grille, and faux vents at the base of the A-pillar recall that old Samurai. Meanwhile, dipped glass in the front doors recalls the Suzuki Sidekick/Vitara, which replaced the Samurai in the American market.
Suzuki touts the new Jimny’s heritage-inspired design as a boon in off-road driving—a flat hood and sharp bodysides aid in guiding the vehicle around obstacles, and upright pillars enhance visibility without compromising structural integrity.
The export-market Suzuki Jimny will be powered by a 1.5L 16-valve I-4 producing 101 hp at 6,000 rpm and 96 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. Those numbers are indeed modest, but the Suzuki Jimny weighs just 2,500 pounds, so performance should be on the slow side of adequate. Backed up to that engine is a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic—please, if you’re in the market for a Jimny, go for the manual and preserve the rugged SUV’s crunchy-granola goodness. The manual also gets you a slightly higher top speed, at 90 mph. The auto is limited to 87 mph.
Either engine will get you decent fuel economy, which is one of the Jimny’s longstanding virtues. In European testing, the Jimny achieves 31 miles per American gallon in the city and 38 on the highway.
The 2019 Jimny does a bit of a quantum leap into modern times when it comes to safety. The new SUV will come with automated emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane departure prevention, six airbags, and electronic stability control.
In Japan, the 1.5L engine is marketed in the Jimny Sierra, while the Jimny “minicar” is sold with a 0.6L turbocharged I-4 making 66 hp. This engine, coupled with smaller bumpers and a narrower track, allows the Jimny minicar to be sold as a kei automobile, which subjects it to lower taxes and registration fees than its 1.5L sibling in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Alas, no matter how much we protest, we probably won’t ever see the new Jimny for sale in American dealerships. That’s a real shame, particularly considering how inexpensive it would be if sold here—the old one started at less than $20,000, and the new one probably will too.
It’s just one more machine we’ll have to covet from across the pond.