Suzuki Jimny LCV review

RAC Breakdown Cover

RAC Breakdown Cover

Complete peace of mind for just £7 a month.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Suzuki's little Jimny LCV is rather unique, a van version of one of our very favourite small SUVs. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

Good news if you thought the chirpy, endearing little Suzuki Jimny small SUV was dead. It lives on in this commercial form as the Jimny LCV. But all the things we loved about the fourth generation Jimny stay intact. It's the van you never knew you wanted.

Background

Like us, you can probably think of quite a few cars that left production far too soon. In the modern era, that's usually because they fail to meet ever-more stringent emissions regulations and such a casualty was the fourth generation Suzuki Jimny small SUV, which launched here at the end of 2018 but stayed on sale in the UK for only 18 months. Turned out its modest 1.5-litre petrol engine was dragging down Suzuki's model range 95g/km CO2 fleet average, so it had to go - and that was that.

Or so we thought. But then someone at Suzuki discovered the 'N1 Light Commercial' vehicle category that covers LCVs under 3.5 tonnes. Models of that sort sold here classified as vans don't contribute to their manufacturers' CO2 fleet average. Other parts of the globe already wanted an LCV-orientated Jimny; why not sell that here? Hence in 2021, the launch of this model, the Jimny LCV.

Driving Experience

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 fourth generation version is better in this regard than the pre-2018-era model but that's not saying much. On the plus side, there's only 1,090kg of mass to roll about and the steering does give some sort of idea as to what's going on beneath you. There's a 5-speed manual gearbox and power comes from a 1.5-litre normally aspirated petrol unit offering 101hp and a top speed of just 90mph.

Off road of course, things are very different. It's no exaggeration to say that this little Suzuki 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 mode. And you get a ladder frame chassis, three-link rigid axle coil spring suspension and four-wheel drive. To it has been added extra tech such as Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control, emergency brake support and various driver assistance systems.

Design and Build

Visually, the Jimny looks very little different in this LCV guise, a model designed more for the mud than the metropolis. Flared wheel arches, bulky side panels and that spare wheel on the tailgate give it a purposeful look intended to reflect a 'rugged personality'. Longstanding Jimny design cues like round headlights and independent indicators are present and correct and the front grille will be familiar to previous buyers too.

Inevitably, those compact dimensions mean that space is at something of a premium inside. The footwells are tight for instance and the driver and front seat passenger will need to be on friendly terms. The dashboard, with lacks a centre screen, is pretty functional and black plastic predominates around the cabin. The seats are comfortable but not really intended for overly long trips.

The previous couple of seats in the back have of course been removed to create this as a commercial vehicle. To qualify as an LCV, this Suzuki needed at load length of more than 900mm, which required the front seats to be moved forward 10mm. That's created a total usable area of 0.86 m³ - or 863-litres, which is 33-litres more than the old passenger car's boot could offer with the rear seats folded flat.

Market and Model

Suzuki wants £16,796 ex-VAT for the Jimny LCV (£19,999 with VAT). There's a choice of six different colours and a range of accessories including roof bars and underbody protection for tough off roading. Bear in mind, however, that these things are likely to do little for residual values when the time comes to sell. There aren't really any other van alternatives that are this capable off road, unless you pay more than twice as much for commercial versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Land Rover Defender.

The standard Jimny LCV spec includes 15-inch steel wheels, a rather basic DAB radio with Bluetooth, a multi-function steering wheel and air conditioning. The key safety features from the passenger model have been carried forward, which means you get Suzuki's Dual Sensor Brake Support system for automatic emergency braking. If this system determines that there is a risk of collision with a forward vehicle or pedestrian, it issues an audio and visual warning, increases braking force, or applies strong automatic brakes depending on the situation, in an effort to avoid the collision or reduce damage. Plus there's an eCall emergency assist function, a Hill holder, Hill Descent Control and Tyre Pressure Monitoring.

Practicalities and Costs

If you're choosing the Jiminy LCV is a commercial vehicle first and foremost, you might be rather disappointed with it because it can only take a modest total load capacity of 863-litres (0.86m3). The old rear seats have been replaced by a mesh-and-steel bulkhead which separates those at the front from the loading area. Unlike most other car derived vans, the rear windows remain in place, which will make filling the loading area to the roof rather precarious idea. You won't be doing that with cargo that's very heavy though because this LCV's payload is limited to 150kg. To give you some perspective, a normal supermini-based van will usually take about half a tonne.

Given that the less-than-environmental emissions showing from this vehicle's 1.5-litre petrol engine was the reason it was withdrawn from the UK market in passenger form, you might expect the running costs offered up here to be rather less than exemplary. Actually, they're not too bad - as ought to be the case from an SUV this light.

The 1.5-litre engine returns 36.7mpg (combined WLTP) and 173g/km of CO2 (WLTP), which is less than spectacular for a vehicle and powertrain this small, but will hardly break the bank. As it was in passenger form, this Jimny is weighed down by the weight of those 4x4 mechanicals - and under the bonnet, you don't get the most modern powerplant either. Electrification? It wasn't even thought about by the engineers who developed this model.

What else? Well, once your Jimny has been registered for three years, it will become eligible for Suzuki's fixed price service package which will enable you to get servicing carried out for a single fixed price that will include parts, labour and VAT. Like every Suzuki model, this one comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty: the brand maybe needs to think about extending this to match rivals now offering four, five or even seven-year plans. There's also a year's breakdown cover that extends across the whole of Europe and includes roadside recovery. You can extend it yourself at extra cost via arrangement with your dealer. A 12-year anti-rust guarantee comes with the vehicle too.

Summary

This LCV version is only a temporary reprieve for the fourth generation Jimny design, but it's a welcome one. In passenger car form, this was the little 4x4 that folk in search of a small SUV ought to have chosen but rarely did. And likewise in van guise, it'll probably be roundly ignored by the mainstream market - which is fine because Suzuki's UK importers have only 400 examples to sell until this fourth generation Jiminy design really is gone for good.

If, like us, you always rather liked the thought of one, then here's a last chance to indulge yourself, even if you didn't really start out looking for a van. All the things that were great about the Jimny in passenger form stay intact here, including its superb off-road prowess. And there's the loading versatility that you might have thought would require a pick-up as a lifestyle addition to your garage. Choose one of these instead. And make your street a cheerier place.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get Breakdown Cover. Our patrols fix most breakdowns on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover