It’s been nearly 20 years since a new generation of Jimny was on the market, but it doesn’t seem like Suzuki forgot how to make them. The 2019 Jimny is still going to be a rugged, durable, capable, affordable off-roading machine.
Our visual impression of the vehicle is a good one. It’s a pleasingly simple square bodied car with protective elements incorporated well into the design. For example, there are extensions in the wheel well and along the sill meant to protect the car from debris shooting up from the wheels. The extensions aren’t glaringly obvious and don’t seem tacked on, instead blending into the general design. There are also drip rails on the roof that stop water from coming into the cabin when you open or close a door, but they don’t look like you have giant overhangs sticking off the top of your car. Overall, this is an aesthetically pleasing off-roader. One that we would absolutely not be ashamed of picking up for ourselves.
And if we do find ourselves behind the wheel of a Jimny, we’d bet we’d be the newest members of the car’s cult following. In the UK, the last generation of Jimny, a car essentially unchanged since its 1998 introduction, sold like clockwork. Each year, Suzuki could count on the UK market to sell roughly 1000 Jimnys. Never more, never less, and without any significant marketing efforts or sales campaigns. And most of the time, these sales were drivers trading in well-used Jimnys of the exact same generation. It was a community that kept to itself and loved its cars to car-death.
The problem for us then becomes Suzuki hasn’t been available on the US market since 2012. The company had a hard time cracking the US market thanks to a confluence of issues. For one, we Americans love our big cars and Suzuki’s specialty, as well as the vast majority of their offerings, was in small cars. Second, there were some safety issues with the cars people were buying, so they developed a bit of a bad reputation among the people who’d know. We can remember a sibling or two (who’s even more into cars than we are) throwing the occasional derogatory comment at a Suzuki when they’d see it on the highway.
But that was for their regular consumer cars. The Jimny has routinely proven itself both exempt from and immune to that kind of criticism. For that, we’re hoping the company decides it’s time to experiment in the US again, with the Jimny as the main test.