The Suzuki Jimny: A Car Manufacturer Demonstrates Value and Integrity
Pleasing on the eye; the Jimny also respects the pocket
This little 4-Wheel Drive will make you Smile
This is a small story about my one-year association with this compact yet tough little off-roader, the Suzuki Jimny. I bought this little machine after my huge (by British standards) Citroen C5 diesel became unfixable with something new wrong with it every time I hit the high road. The C5 is a nice-looking car with a great ride and may be satisfactory for a few years when bought new; mine was 8 years old and the icing had definitely departed the gingerbread, as the French say. This meant, Hal-like, strange lights popped up all over the dash as the onboard computer fulfilled its mandate of built-in obsolescence and reached the unhappy time of wringing all it could out of the owner in Citroen parts, or persuaded him to spend another 20 grand and buy a new one.
So I sold it and pocketed the couple of grand, locking the front door and turning the phones off and praying the new sucker, er, owner made it home before Hal woke up to find he had been betrayed.
As I am practically a fossil, I get a free bus-pass in the UK for local journeys. So I resorted to travelling around on a charabanc until I could find something halfway decent I could afford to drive.
Right by the bus stop on the route to Stanstead airport there was a blue, and cute yet rugged looking little mini-jeep parked in the front garden of a house with a "For Sale" sign on it. (the car had the sign).
I looked at it each time I caught the bus for a few days. It's no wonder they can afford to give pensioners free bus-passes in Britain: the buses are always nearly empty, run late most of the time, have an infrequent service, are expensive if you have to pay and subject passengers to a good soaking while waiting for their arrival at exposed bus stops. Your fellow passengers are brain-damaged hoodies muttering in the rear seats, mindless school kids chattering at 100 decibels while catching you in a Smarties crossfire, and the fellow aged hoping they make Bishops Stortford before they have a cardiac arrest, or gumming their dentures in panic as they plan just how they will get off the bus. Not something you want to do for long.
So after a few days of this, I tapped on the Jimny - for that's what it was - owner's door. A smiling Pakistani gentleman opened the door and said, "I knew it was you, we saw you getting the bus, you'll love the car," or extraordinary words to that effect. We had a chuckle: I knew him of course, he was the daytime security guard from the Dunmow Tesco store and we had spoken many times about his ambition to be a commercial pilot. But I had not known where he lived, so that mystery was solved.
"It is Nasima, my wife's car, " he explained, "but now she has moved up to the Toyota Rav4 as the kids are bigger now."
I should say now that the Jimny is a bit tight if you are large like me; the fore and aft room is OK, but it is narrow.
We jumped the battery - it had stood idle for some months - and went for a run, finding that the battery was not charging. But all else seemed fine: only 45,000 miles from new in 2002, and the beauty of knowing the family was, I believed it was genuine (as it turned out). We agreed on a purchase price of £1750 (about $2500) and my friend, Shoaib, would put on a new alternator (cost £300) so it was a good deal.
A Jimny has a small - 1300 cc - motor but it is a marvellous little plant: economical (about 45 miles to the gallon), and with heaps of torque. I have had it for over a year now and apart from top-up during vehicle inspection time (MOT) have never had to put in oil or water or anything else.
The Suzuki is a simple chap. The only nod to driver ease really is power steering and power windows. No damned "on board computer" the curse of all vehicles today, making all repairs expensive, hard to diagnose and, apparently, impossible to repair without replacing half the engine. This infernal device gives owners nervous breakdowns and mechanics a license to steal, blaming the "brain" for everything from emission woes, to balky engines, electrical problems and early death. And I haven't found a mechanic yet who can ever get the "service" light to stay off.
In the Jimny, everything that's supposed to work still does. I have put in a new water pump, some brake work and a new battery, but that's it and the little car was so embarrassed at causing this expense, it has run like a Swiss watch ever since.
I get mad with him, actually (no, no name I'm not that soppy...I do favor Rambo though), but he is definitely a bloke, a broad would have let me down many times by now!
Last winter we had a lot of snow in the UK. I smiled as I saw people skidding around and even in the ditch as the Jimny sailed smoothly over ice, snow and slush, his two-stage four-wheel-drive providing solid traction and its full steel chassis adding the strong back up.
My Jimny has not a rumble or a rattle, has a comfortable high driving position, four seats, although back very cramped and a useful load space at the rear and a solid luggage rack, (I do like a good rack, don‘t you?).
It is small: too small for even a medium size family or someone who moves a lot of stuff.
I do watch eBay regularly for something newer, sleeker, faster. But so far I have held back; there's something about this little truck that has elevated it into a friend rather than just transportation.
I do change cars frequently as a rule: they get old, boring, need a wash! You know. And when there was a SO in my life, well, they always want this year's model, shallow little strumpets!
To be fair, it isn’t perfect, what vehicle is? It is small, it’s short wheelbase and large tires make for a choppy ride, it does sway a bit like it’s motorbike cousins on the bends and roundabouts; the Jimny is heavy and other small 1.3 cars have better mileage; yearly road tax is high at £140 now, I only drive locally and, apart from the draconian tax, these things are not a worry.
I may go back to Mexico soon...maybe I can buy another Jimny to use there and the Mexican SO‘s aren‘t so fussy....