Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Off-road trek’s par for the course for this 4x4

Off-road trek’s par for the course for this 4x4

A WHILE ago I said unequivocally that I had enjoyed my time with the 2019 all-new Suzuki Jimny on “normal” roads but hoped to write at a later date about driving it off-road.

Well, now I have had my chance. As always when I have taken a 4x4 of any size off-road I have found it great fun and a revealing experience. The Jimny has proved to be no exception.

Driving off-road says something about the kind of driver you are — your skill, your “connection” with the vehicle you are driving, and your patience.

This last attribute is important for any off-roader. I’m sure there are those who race off-road but I prefer a more considered form of 4x4 off-roading.

Which is to say that you take your time and that at the back of your mind you think this is not a race and I am going to enjoy what this 4x4 can do.

You can get yourself into a lot of trouble off-road if you do not take care and develop skills not generally called upon while driving on the road.

Before you have a go, it is a good idea to attend an off-road driving course.

Then you need a vehicle that is built to go off-road. The new 2019 Suzuki Jimny is certainly that.

The advantage of attending a course is that you will be able to drive on a designated route off-road.

I found a track in the Cotswold countryside where I was able to try out the Jimny, but of course most land is not accessible.

Nevertheless, I had some fun trying the Jimny through great mud holes and along angled banks where it performed perfectly.

Suzuki says the Jimny has essential parts built in for “serious off-roading”. It has a ladder frame; there are “three excellent clearance angles”; it has three-link rigid axle suspension with coil spring and part-time four-wheel drive with low range transfer gear. And “designed for professionals”, it features Allgrip Pro.

Eight rubber body mounts positioned between the ladder frame and upper body have been redesigned to enhance both ride comfort and ride stability.

The diameter of the front stabiliser has been increased for improved ride comfort and less body roll during cornering.

The new Jimny is one of few off-roaders equipped with a rigid axle for both front and rear. The front axle housing is now made of tougher high tensile steel and the rear axle housing is a larger diameter for greater durability.

The Jimny can be switched from 2H (two-wheel drive — high) and 4H (four wheel drive — high) at speeds of up to 62mph and from 4H to 4L when at a complete stop.

When two wheels diagonal from each other lose traction, the Jimny’s brake LSD traction control kicks in. It automatically brakes the slipping wheels to redistribute torque (pulling power) to the other side. This allows the vehicle to gain traction. This system allows the Jimny to escape slippery surfaces as well as bumpy rough roads that could vary on the right and left sides.

The former generation of the Jimny had a 1.3-litre engine, which has been replaced by a 1.5-litre unit.

The new engine delivers higher torque than its predecessor. It provides ample torque at low revolutions. This increases driving performance levels, especially while driving off-road, where a low engine speed is often needed. To help fuel efficiency, the new engine is 15 per lighter than its predecessor.

The five-speed manual transmission has optimised gear ratios for the new engine and also contributes to better fuel efficiency.

The shift lever has been redesigned to reduce vibration and also provides a more solid and direct feeling when changing gears.

The four-speed automatic transmission has also been redesigned to offer less friction and better fuel economy. The shift pattern has been changed from the former gate type to the straight (aligned) type to simplify operation.

Six body colours are available including a new colour developed exclusively for the new Jimny: a high-visibility “Kinetic Yellow” designed to stand out in bad weather or when in use on rough ground worksites.

Safety technology as standard on board the new Jimny includes Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS) Lane Departure Warning, and Weaving Alert. Air conditioning, auto headlights with high beam assist, front fog lamps and Bluetooth connectivity are also fitted as standard.

For intuitive operation of the audio system, a Bluetooth-compatible Smartphone Linkage Display Audio unit with a seven-inch infrared touchscreen is fitted on the SZ5 model.

As I said when I first drove it, the Suzuki Jimny may not be everyone’s cup of tea but in a world of cars that is increasingly bland it is a tonic and great fun to drive off-road.


Suzuki Jimny

Price range: £15,999 to £19,499

Retains traditional ladder-frame chassis for optimum off-road performance

Allgrip PRO selectable four-wheel drive fitted as standard

Standard equipment also includes Dual Sensor Brake Support, Hill Descent Control

SZ5 grade features LED headlights

Two model grades available: SZ4 and SZ5

SZ5 has 15in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, climate control, navigation system with Smartphone Link, heated front seats


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