They are often called the underdogs at trail line-up, but from the tales our readers tell, the Suzuki Jimny is truly #BornForThis and can keep up with any of the hardebaarde, often reaching spots the big guns can’t! In the run-up to what promises the must-be-seen-at event on the 2023 automotive calendar – the largest Suzuki Jimny gathering in the southern hemisphere (and possibly the world!) during the upcoming Heritage Day weekend – we take a look back at some of our favourite Jimnys making it into the pages of Adventure Afrika.
The last Samurai: Liam O’Connnel – 1994 Suzuki SJ410 (Samurai)
“The nineties have an unrivalled sense of nostalgia, especially with regards to cars and music. A whole bunch of vehicles from that era have become classics, to be admired from a distance… but not my little Zook! The Suzuki SJ410, also known as the Suzuki Samurai, is an amazing little truck, and when I was shopping around for an adventure partner, the choice was obvious.
Of course, the Jimny community loves my little Zook and welcomed us with open arms, knowing it’s the foundation of the Jimny we all know and love today. This sense of community is another thing I adore about the Jimny – you feel like you’re part of something bigger… a brother-/sisterhood of sorts, all united in knowing that our four-wheel partners are the underdogs of the overlanding community.
And boy, oh boy – this little pocket-rocket can 4×4! My favourite trip with Zook was when we headed down to our beach house in the Transkei. I totalled over 1 000km, without it giving me any problems – but bear in mind that I take very good care of this little gem of mine. My time with Zook has been unforgettable, and I can’t recall any campfire tale in which he does not play a significant role! Every trip – from supermarket runs to fully-fledged adventures – is better than the last. The Zook brings joy to everybody it passes, and I can’t help smiling every time I start him up… or when I walk away from it, always giving it an appreciative glance back. I can’t believe this legendary vehicle is mine and I’ll cherish it for years and years to come.
Oh Captain, my captain: Monty Montgomery, 2008 Suzuki Jimny
Oh, Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done! The ship has weather’d every rack. The prize we sought is won. – Walt Whitman
This first line and title of Walt Whitman’s elegy for Abraham Lincoln and made even more famous by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society numerous decades later, sweep through your mind when you chat to Monty Montgomery about his 2008 Jimny, lovingly called Kaptein.
“This Jimny and I have come a long way – this is the second Jimny sold in Africa in 2008, and since then, we have travelled all over Southern Africa,” says Monty. As a platform to interact with fellow Suzuki enthusiasts, Monty started the Suzuki Auto Club South Africa and, from there, the first company manufacturing Suzuki protection gear was born. Kaptein has undoubtedly changed over the years, with front and rear diff locks added, while the 1.3-litre engine was upgraded to a 1.8-litre Suzuki engine. As the Montgomery family ventured out into the wild west that is Africa, they added front and rear bumpers, rock sliders, a steering damper and underbody protection plates, all from the Wild4x4 stable. Fitted with an 80mm suspension and “air helpers”, there is no stopping Kaptein from conquering the worst of obstacles. To keep the missus happy, the interior was changed to accommodate overlanding adventures, with everything from a water tank and fridge, to a solar panel and a laptop for navigation.
Citing Namaqualand in spring to witness the world’s most impressive natural flower show as his bucket list local trip, Monty also dreams of taking Kaptein to Malawi and the Okavanga Delta. “But for us, it is all about the journey and not the destination – and with Kaptein, we will take on any challenge,” concludes Monty.
Overlander in the making: Rohann Nieuwoudt – 2010 Suzuki Jimny
Dreaming of undertaking a trip from Cape Town to view the Aurora Borealis (Northen Lights), Rohann is completely smitten with his Jimny and already have many modifications planned for Oubaas.
“I am only starting out and still have loads to do, but this car is a already a machine. It goes wherever I need it to and allows me to live my passion of travelling and exploring,” says Rohann, who loves putting Oubaas to the test at surrounding 4×4 trails. Having already fitted a couple of accessories, Rohann’s top tip is to speak to fellow enthusiasts to get some advice and ideas.
“Yes, it may change your initial plans but this way, you ensure you don’t make the same mistakes others have made. To this extent, I have made peace with the fact that Oubaas’ transformation may take longer but with all the learnings and advise I am gathering, I know it will be epic once completed!”
Rohann and Oubaas often head out to Kroonland 4×4 in the Overberg. It offers a challenging 4×4 route and comfortable accommodation options ranging from wooden cabins to a neat campsite. “I think it is important to take your 4×4 out as often as you can – that way you get to know and understand its abilities and limitations which may also impact your modification list and requirements.”
Selling dreams: Ismail Suder – 2020 Suzuki Jimny GLX (auto)
When Suzuki South Africa announced in 2018 that it was launching the Gen 4 Suzuki Jimny, Ismail Suder knew instantly that he had to have one. Early in 2019, when he put down the deposit, he was warned that the wait for delivery of the Jimny was going to be long, perhaps two years or more. He had no choice but to endure the agonising wait. “Every day after that, the adventures I would go on across southern Africa and beyond occupied my mind,” says Ismail.
Then in 2021, at the height of Covid-19, the Suzuki dealer in Johannesburg called, informing him that his Jimny had arrived. It was a bittersweet moment as it was around that time that he was losing many relatives and friends to the pandemic. “I was apprehensive about taking a flight from Durban to Johannesburg due to the high threat of contamination, but there was no other choice. My heart melted when I saw the black-pearl Jimny on the showroom floor. Apparently, my Jimny was part of the last batch to roll off the production line in Japan before production for South African models moved to the Gurgaon plant in India.”
Often asked why he loves his Jimny so much, Ismail says the answer is simple. “It’s the only small 4×4 on the market that can take me to some of the most picturesque locations in South Africa. Furthermore, this nifty little 4×4 can get me there at a fraction of the cost of those bigger, pricey rigs. The Jimny puts an adventurous lifestyle within reach of the average Joe.”
Ismail highlights a recent trip up the torturous, yet magnificent Sani Pass in Lesotho as a must-do adventure. “Stallion cruised up the pass effortlessly, like an unstoppable mountain goat. Because it is such a lightweight vehicle, it can take on much bigger rigs on the most challenging terrain. Throw anything at the little Jimny, and it will take on the challenge with jaw-dropping chutzpah.”
Feisty Frosty: Marius & Marie Bekker, 2019 Suzuki Jimny GLX (manual)
I believe that age is but a number and find the pleasures that come with a, let’s say, more mature age, simply delightful. One such delight is the freedom to break away more regularly without worrying about school runs and kids – and what better way to explore this beautiful country of ours than in the nimble,yet powerful Suzuki Jimny?
I first caught a glimpse of Frosty – as our little steed is fondly called – on yet another mundane commute from work when I passed a Suzuki dealership. As soon as I saw this vision in white, fitted with a pair of all-terrain takkies, I knew I had to have it – and even though the waiting list was long, my persistence paid off. Before long, I became part of the fortunate clan that drives Jimny’s.
Frosty has opened Southern Africa up to us, and we have crisscrossed it from ocean to desert, from forest to waterfall, from rocky passes to mountains covered in snow. Numerous small towns have been visited, and many a bridge crossed. Whether we camp, glamp, opt for a self-catering chalet or have a luxurious stay, driving Frosty remains the best part of our journey!
Winston Churchstreet: Cea Swart, 2021 Suzuki Jimny GLX (manual)
Winston takes us to Church Streets all around South Africa – hence the name Winston Churchstreet. We love travelling to tiny towns and they almost always have a Church Street.
It’s often where a town originated and usually boasts beautiful old buildings and churches. Our very entertaining #kleindorpiekuiers and #churchstreetsaga started before Winston, but the adventure has taken off since he arrived in 2021. With Winston, we love to go off the beaten track, take stunning ‘Jimnygraphs’ in front of old churches, and easily find parking in impossible spaces.
Winston’s tank stays full thanks to my second-hand store on Yaga, called Wardrobe 4 Winston. So, I can work on the go and finance my travels.
Magical Mamba: Nick Ferreira, 2020 Suzuki Jimny
Yes – it is most certainly not the biggest 4×4 out there, but it makes up for it with pure excitement. When you’re cruising on the road, the Jimny’s compact size and easy handling make it a dream.
It’s perfect for zipping through tight city streets and finding parking spots without hassle. The steering is super responsive, and the whole driving experience feels so alive, especially when you take those corners with some oomph.
But the real magic happens when I take Mamba – as we call our Jimny – off the beaten path. It’s like a little beast that can handle anything you throw at it. Seriously, this baby is built to handle it all, whether you’re conquering steep hills, tackling muddy trails, or crawling over rocks. The 4×4 system and low-range gear ratio give it the traction and power to take on rough terrain like a champ.
And the cool part? Because it’s so compact, you can take it to places bigger SUVs wouldn’t dare to go. Almost like a secret weapon for off-roading, the Jimny can easily squeeze through narrow trails and tight spaces, giving you access to those hidden gems that larger vehicles can’t reach. Pure fun, I tell you!’’
For the love of Jimny: Anton Schoeman, 2013 Suzuki Jimny
Jeremy Clarkson once said that there are two distinct types of people on this planet. The first is the type of person who regards a vehicle as a simple mode of transportation, just a bundle of rubber, glass and steel. Then you get people like me, who truly believe that a soul lies under all of that steel, rubber
I don’t believe that my Suzuki is alive, but I love it as if it is. For the longest time, it has only been my Jimny and I. I’ve even dedicated multiple social media pages across Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok to it to show people what the Jimny life and culture are all about. I have a real passion for working on my Jimny. I love adding and removing bits to make it as capable as possible, so I can show people that you don’t need a big fuel-guzzling 4×4 to explore the wonders nature offers.
Vlakvarkie: JP van der Watt, 2014 Suzuki Jimny
I’ve always been an outdoorsy person, but never quite understood the appeal of overlanding. However, my little ‘Vlakvarkie‘ completely changed my perspective. The Suzuki opened up my world and made me dream of going deeper into the wild and further away from civilisation.
As a boy, you always dream of owning a car that you can be proud of and pride is certainly an understatement when it comes to my Suzuki Jimny. I simply can’t walk away from it without glancing back and admiring it. The Suzuki looks great, but it is also a little trooper. Although it’s often the underdog out on the trails, it always shows it can be
just as good as so-called ‘Big Boys‘!
“Klein maar getrein!”: Jannie Weitz, 2017 Suzuki Jimny Gen 3
Despite its diminutive size, the Jimny is phenomenally capable off-road and has taken me on several unforgettable adventures to some far-off and remote places. It’s usually just me in the vehicle, so packing space is just right and given its excellent fuel economy and reliability, it hasn’t put a foot wrong yet.
My Jimny is the tool for my passion. It allows me to get out of town and into the wilderness.
We all know the city can suffocate us adventurers, and sometimes it’s necessary to go to a place where people are scarce and stars plentiful, to escape from the chaos of your busy life. I can’t wait for the next adventure!”