Not nice but a niche-vehicle
The front diff. case had a minor leakage when bought. That's not to be expected in an only-20K vehicle.
It has a very harsh and bumpy ride. Not recommended unless you need to ride on occasional off-road / snow conditions. One has to be aware of its shortcomings; neither a car, nor a serious off-road machine.
It's unsatisfactory either on tarmac, nor on serious off-road, especially at soft soil / mud conditions. It's quite capable inheriting a hardcore Land Rover-like 4x4 design. But, due to the non-uniform pattern underneath, caused by the diff-hub and supension arms, it can get stuck suddenly and in a pathetic way with little prior warning to be expected. However, it's better on slopes or rocky terrain, thanks to the low gear and good tyre articulation. It's impossible to drive off-road faster than say 10-15 kph, due to the hard ride. You will feel every stone or bump on your course.
The engine lacks torque and power at rews below 3000 rpm. On highway slopes more than 5%, 3rd gear is the only option (simlpy 4th is not sustainable). 3rd gear is unnecessarily slow, while 4th is too fast for the engine power for normal up-slope driving. You have to rev it up hard, near red-line if you need power, at the cost of engine life, comfort & fuel.
It's arguably the most affordable and fuel efficient 4x4, but if you maintain 85 kph, and low speed drive on slopes; due to the poor aerodynamics, low torque engine, and added weight and friction from the 4x4 design.
It may not be safe unless driven with extreme care. It has a tendency to oversteer easily, though recoverable if you respect and react to the first signals.
Tyre selection and maintanance has utmost importance in road safety. When new, the generic Bridgestone Dueler is likely safer than any other brands. I observed that even snow tyres reduced safety than the generic one on snow.
It's extremely packed, but unnecessarily tall; having almost no storage volume, unless you opt to use the rear seats. The vehicle could have easily been designed 20cm longer and the ceiling could be 10cm less, giving a safer and more aerodynamic ride, plus more area for luggage.
When reclined, the front & rear seats can meet each other quite level, so allowing me to sleep, though not comfortably, but better than many other vehicles.
It's quite reliable; it will unlikely fail on the way, like its precedessor Samurai or SJ-413, yet now owning some complicated electronic contoller units hard to diagnose or repair in case of a failure.
Despite of its shortcomings, is there any option out there rather than the Jimny, without sacrificing the off-road ability? I don't think so. Any others will mean increased fuel consumption, higher purchase or maintanance costs and higher tax or insurance figures. Or everything remaining about the same, but with some reduced off-road handling like the Terios without a low-gear.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 28th July, 2008