Suzuki Jimny (2018 - 2020) used car review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Breakdown cover from just £7.95 a month*. Plus up to £150 of driving savings!

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

By Jonathan Crouch


Fed up with little SUVs that talk the talk but can't walk the walk? Here's one you'll like, Suzuki's Jimny, an ultra-compact 4x4 with genuine character. This fourth generation version, like its predecessors, used a proper ladder-framed chassis and delivered proper off road ability. Just don't expect it to be cultured on-tarmac. Built for Ben Nevis. Bought in Belgravia. As an extra car for the wilds at weekends, we think it'd be just about perfect.


3dr SUV (Petrol -1.5)


Suzuki has long had a mission to create 'the one-and-only small lightweight four wheel drive vehicle'. It's called the Jimny, there's nothing quite like it and here we look at the fourth generation version.

New Jimnys don't come around very often. The version prior to the launch of this fourth generation in late 2018 was on sale for two decades, which is perhaps why this model line has such a cult following. It's one of those utilitarian SUV icons - like the Land Rover Defender, the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes G-Wagen. And, just as those cars have in recent times been painstakingly updated in a way that retains their essential character, Suzuki has laboured long and hard to ensure that this modern-era Jimny model line continued to be true to the values it was originally born to serve.

The Jimny story dates back to the late Sixties and a product called the HopeStar OM360 manufactured by the Hope Motor Company, essentially a kind of scaled-down World War II Willys Jeep. Suzuki bought the rights to make this little 4x4, updated it and re-launched it in April 1970 badged as its 'LJ' series. Eleven years later, with a quarter of a million worldwide sales on the board, the company replaced that car with a model you're more likely to remember, the 'SJ' Series, which in the Eighties gained unwanted notoriety for its alarming tendency to tip over when cornering at speed. Nevertheless, nearly 1.7 million SJs had been sold by 1998, the year this MK4 car's predecessor was launched.

That third generation design was the first in the model line to be generally known in our market by the Jimny name and was a far more civilised thing than its predecessors - or at least it seemed that way at launch. As the years passed though, the Jimny looked more and more at odds with the kind of cultured little runabout that customers increasingly expected a small SUV to be. It was, after all, uncompromisingly rugged and a loyal band of buyers made it clear to Suzuki that they wanted it to stay that way. So it did, this MK4 version - launched in late 2018 - carrying forward the four staple Jimny virtues needed for serious off roading; a ladder-framed chassis, excellent clearance angles, a 3-link rigid-axle suspension and part-time ALLGRIP 4WD with a low range transfer box.

Which isn't to say that this car wasn't much improved. On the contrary, there was plenty that was different - a new 1.5-litre petrol engine, much greater torsional rigidity, some more modern cabin equipment features and even, a touch incongruously on such a back-to-basics vehicle, a package of camera-driven safety kit. But, we were told, it fully embodied the spirit of its much-loved predecessors in a way that no other modern SUV could quite replicate. Unfortunately, this MK4 model's time in the UK market was brief, Suzuki withdrawing it in 2020 because the 1.5-litre engine's CO2 return was dragging down its fleet average. A year later, the Jimny returned in LCV form but the full-passenger-carrying version's time on sale was finished.

What You Get

There's no doubt about it: this is a proper little 4x4, designed more for the mud than the metropolis, with flared wheel arches, bulky side panels and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel all there to reflect its rugged personality. It's an iconic formula. From the side, you'll get more of a feel for the way the dimensions of this car changed this time round. Heck it's short; Suzuki trimmed 30mm from the body length of this fourth generation model, which measures in at less than 3.5-metres, making this Jimny about the size of a tiny city runabout - intentionally so, to allow this 4x4 in its home market to fit into the Japanese 'kei car' urban model category. That means that it's considerably shorter than more conventional small SUVs, though it's closer to them in terms of width and height, thanks to being 45mm wider and 20mm higher than its predecessor.

The cabin certainly feels very spacious, thanks to the extra body width, the exceptionally high roof height and a 40mm increase in the seat hip point. And, as ever in a Jimny, it's focused around straightforward, down-to-earth practicality, all the fixtures and fittings unapologetically finished in dark, hard wipe-clean plastic, though there are a few exposed allen bolts to impart a 'Jeep'-like vibe. You're positioned high and commandingly on re-designed seats with wider cushion frames that better absorb off-road bumps and shocks. Through the steering wheel (which still doesn't adjust for reach), you view a clear set of permanently-lit instruments. And, on the plusher, 'SZ5' variant, you get a 7-inch 'Smartphone Link' infotainment touchscreen for the DAB audio system with also includes 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' 'phone-mirroring functionality.

And the rear? Well once you're in, there's actually a surprising amount of space, given this car's tiny exterior dimensions. Certainly enough for a couple of adults on shorter trips anyway. The boot's accessed by a side-opening tailgate which swings open to reveal the tiny cargo area that the diminutive exterior dimensions would lead you to expect. There's just 85-litres of space on offer, though being able to re-set the 50:50-split rear seat backrests into a more vertical position certainly helps free up a few extra inches. Push them forward completely and a decent 377-litre capacity is opened up.

What You Pay

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What to Look For

We've come across very few dissatisfied owners of this post-2019-era Jimny. The car will probably have been heavily used off-road, so you'll need to thoroughly check it underneath. And make sure there are no undue wobbles and creaks on the test drive. We've come across quite a few reports in other Suzukis about problems with the camera safety kit, so if the variant you're looking at has that fitted, as far as you're able, see if the main functions work as they should. And check out the media functions thoroughly if you've chosen a top 'SZ5' version with the central infotainment screen. Otherwise, it's just the usual things - look out for family damage inside; and insist on a fully-stamped service history.

Replacement Parts

(approx prices based on a 2020 Jimny manual ex VAT) An oil filter costs around £4. An air filter is around £9. Front brake pads sit in the £40 bracket for a set. Front brake discs sits in the £62 bracket. You'll pay around £6-£11 for a pollen filter. Wiper blades cost between £11 and £14.

On the Road

Let's get this straight: if you've no intention of ever going off road, don't bother with this Suzuki. You'll hate it within the first half mile. The low speed ride crashes over bumps and the tall, slab-sided shape rolls its way through the bends. To be fair, this MK4 version is better in this regard than the previous one, but that's not saying much. On the plus side, there's only 1,135kg of mass to roll about and the steering does give some sort of idea as to what's going on beneath you. Power comes from a 1.5-litre normally aspirated petrol unit offering 101PS and a top speed of just 90mph. Choose the five-speed manual model rather than the alternative four-speed automatic and an unremarkable 35.8mpg is quoted on the WLTP-rated combined cycle, along with 154g/km of NEDC-rated CO2.

Off road of course, this Jimny of course immediately feels much more at home. It's no exaggeration to say that it can get to places that larger, pricier more sophisticated SUVs couldn't think about. Light weight will do that for you. Suzuki's mission statement with this model line - to make 'the one-and-only, small, lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicle' - remains credible thanks to the engineering that lies beneath that bodywork. You're offered 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with a low range gearbox mode. And you get a ladder frame chassis, three-link rigid axle coil spring suspension and an electronic traction control system that automatically brakes a spinning wheel to redistribute torque asymmetrically across the axle. To all this, Suzuki also added fresh tech such as hill hold and hill descent control, plus a range of camera-driven driver assistance safety systems, all of it intended to make the car even more capable than before.


You could call this car a lot of things. Over half a century of production, Suzuki certainly has. In that time, it's not only been known as the 'LJ' and the 'SJ' but has also worn badges as diverse as 'Samurai', 'Gypsy', 'Sierra' and 'Farm worker'. It's even occasionally been completely re-branded (as a Mazda and a Maruti). And, along the way, it's been offered in 194 countries, clocking up over 2.85 million sales. However this model has been marketed though, its cheeky, chunky character has remained the same. The Jimny has always been one of a kind. As was still in this fourth generation form.

And in summary? Well it certainly helped this car that in this form, the Jimny didn't have to try and simultaneously appeal to families as well as farmers, in the way that previous versions tried and failed to do. These days, Suzuki has a whole portfolio of more tarmac-oriented SUVs if you'd like 4WD but need a less agricultural feel on tarmac. But these won't give you the live axles, low-range gearing and the sort of rough road readiness that this car offers. Nothing else remotely near this Jimny's price point does. It's authentic, it's class-less and, for loyal buyers, it represents everything a small 4x4 ought to be.

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