Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

5 weeks with Suzuki’s Jimny five-door

Ah, December… when the sun shines into long days of braais and bathing suits, ice cream and pool floats. And, as ANTON WILLEMSE discovered, there is no better way to spend it than with the all-new five-door Suzuki Jimny!

Driving a Suzuki Jimny five-door for a couple of weeks gave me the opportunity to really get to know this little 4×4 with its big heart. For the first part of the test-drive period I mostly drove our youngest daughter and her friends around. The two ‘extra’ doors and additional space in the rear meant that fitting four teenagers in the Jimny was fairly easy.

Trips to the local grocery store were also a breeze. I was worried that cargo space would be compromised, but the Jimny swallowed all our shopping bags with ease. In fact, I soon discovered that it is the perfect run-about. You can squeeze into the smallest of parking spaces and manoeuvring in and around traffic and crowded parking lots is a synch.

Camping at the Eiland ATKV resort

We realised that the Jimny five-door has more than one trick up its sleeve when we decided to go camping outside Tzaneen at the ATKV Eiland resort in Limpopo.

We really packed the Jimny to the rafters. Our eldest daughter and her friend were handed the keys to the Jimny for the trip. Once the rear seats were folded down,

a camping fridge and a dome tent easily fitted, and on top of that came their bedding and luggage. I had my doubts that everything would fit, but my daughter’s friend packed the rear like she was playing Tetris. It was a sight to behold when she was done, but we made sure that they hadn’t gone over the maximum loading capacity of the vehicle.

So, with the Jimny fully (and I mean fully) loaded and with a full tank of fuel we headed north on the N1 to Polokwane. The roads were fairly busy, and we cruised along at 110km/h. This gave us a fairly decent fuel consumption of around 8 litres/100km. We turned east towards Tzaneen where we stopped for a quick fill-up and tackled the last couple of kilometres to the Eiland.

After setting up camp we realised that we had forgotten a few things but never fear when the Jimny is near… it was the prefect runaround between our campsite and the local shop! And with every trip, there was ample interest in the new five-door, and we probably ‘sold’ around 10 of the 1 010 units of these cuties sold since its introduction in December last year in the process! It always fascinates me how people are naturally drawn to this little 4×4 – and how, now that it has five doors, people seem even more intrigued!

It was a hot couple of days that ended with a downpour on the day we had to head back home. The girls did their Tetris trick again and we hit the road. But the Jimny’s biggest test was still to come: Magoebaskloof Pass…

This is one of the great passes of Limpopo province and one of the most scenic in this country. It climbs 446 vertical metres to summit at 1 400m above sea level, producing an average gradient of 1:17 with the steepest parts being 1:9. This meant that the Jimny with its 1.5-litre engine, putting out 75kW and 130Nm of torque, did not have the easiest time getting up the hill and we spent most of the pass sitting in third gear and doing 40km/h. But it got to the top! We drove through some rain and every now and then the wind pushed the Jimny around a bit, but the effect was far less than what we had previously experienced in a three-door model.

Going off-road

Off course we took it for a bit of off-road fun too. The Jimny is a very capable little vehicle and if I had to have one negative comment to make it would be about the lack of a rear diff lock. The All Grip 4×4 system works very well and the limited-slip diff in the rear helps a lot. However, one of the obstacles we tackled was uphill, with a bit of an axle twister and going up the Jimny needed a bit of a push to get it through. The downhill decent system works well though, although I prefer to manage a descent myself.

So, living with a Jimny was fun. It is actually bigger than it looks and as a proverbial jack of all trades, I would dare to say that it fills the gap left by previous generations of the Grand Vitara. Yes, I know there is an AWD Grand Vitara (launched last year) but the new generation doesn’t have a transfer case that gives you that extra converted torque you need when going off-road. The extra space makes it ideal for a young couple just getting into the 4×4 and outdoor life.

I enjoyed our time with the Jimny and was not super thrilled to return it after five fun-filled weeks and dreaming about some conversions we’d do to create the perfect little overlander to take it across border… Watch this space, as dreams may just come true!

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