2006 Suzuki Jimny JLX+ 1.3 VVT from UK and Ireland
Lethal on-road handling, rolled and written off
Retaining clip stud on Suzuki rubber floor mat broken.
*** Update ***
NOW ROLLED OVER AND WRITTEN OFF.
Slight rattle in drivers door.
Minor oil leak/smell of burning oil from transmission.
NSF tyre needing imminent replacement as outer edge worn.
What a surprise! After reading 50 or so reports on this car, I was expecting a basic, capable off roader which would be OK on short journeys, terrible on motorways and have poor economy. I thought it would be useful, but frustrating in many ways. Not so...
I am most impressed with it, and have actually started to enjoy driving again.
It has the sort of x-factor that is hard to define, which has got me smiling again, and even talking to the thing!
It has a character, lost on many new cars, and is easy to live with day to day. Other Jimny owners wave too!
The JLX+ is a newly released special edition with metallic, air con and part leather, otherwise the same as the new facelift JLX. (The basic Jimny only gets a nasty cheap plastic steering wheel and hard headrests, not the leather rim and softer leather headrests on the JLX+.)
I was disappointed that the DDIS engine was unavailable in the UK, but have been pleasantly surprised by the 1.3 VVT unit, which is set up to pull from tickover and is smooth below 4000 rpm. It suits a driving approach similar to driving the diesel, with quick upchanges and low revs. On long uphills, revs are needed, but this does not upset it.
The big surprise was motorway driving; it still pulls at 100 mph (sat-nav verified/109mph on speedo), but this requires very high revs. It prefers to amble quietly at 70mph all day, and this is more comfortable, safer and more stable than I ever thought it would be.
The good build quality is evident throughout, with no rattles, good panel fit, and smooth operation of components. The new integral Clarion sourced CD player is excellent and gives very clear sound. The new dash is concise, clear and well lit, with a pleasant glow from the satin rims of the clocks, and an Audi-esque feel to the centre console particularly at night, with the red backlighting.
The excellent mirrors are electric, and heated, and are so big that blind spot mirrors are unnecessary. With the twin bright reversing lights, manoeuvering even at night is easy.
The car is easy to live with, having soft touch controls, sensibly sited (NB indicators/beams on RHS of wheel). It is easy to get in and out of, particularly for the elderly (the leather edged seats are easy to slide into) and there is excellent visibility meaning you can see the view over the hedges, and see over the car in front.
I am impressed by the way it can do so many things, so well. It is magnificent off road, with the push button low ratio box, good ground clearance and very light kerb weight. I have been aghast at what I have gone through in it-foot deep mud, rivers, snow drifts, very steep gravel tracks etc. It's narrow girth means you can avoid some of the worst parts of the tracks that the big off roaders have to go through, and the light weight has given me much amusement by allowing me to fly past kitted up Shoguns that have sunk in the mud!!
Back on road, it is quiet, capable and relaxing to drive, with adequate torque, well spaced gear ratios and a smooth 'box.
All road types are enjoyable, even motorways; it really is quite capable and even serene (if you avoid the pot holes). I can drive mine smoothly enough to allow my girlfriend to fall asleep in it!
It can also be hustled along nicely when needed, with the Variable Valve Timing engine at higher revs, but do remember that it is light, tall and narrow, and is rear wheel drive when in two wheel drive mode.
As such, I would not recommend it for novices, or unskilled and heavy footed drivers, due to its ability to oversteer if driven too hard, especially on greasy islands. A skilled driver will have no problem, and enjoy pushing the envelope. This is not a fault in the design, put the truth of physics, and applies to all SUVs; don't drive it on road like a Porsche, just like you wouldn't drive a Porsche across a peat bog and into a river. It's common sense!
Minor points that could be improved are the lack of underseat drawers, wasted storage space in the cabin and narrow door pockets.
It is best thought of as a two seater with occasional rear seats, as the rear seat are comfortable, but frustrating to get to, and the boot is small, but with a boot liner is just the right size to stop things moving about on corners.
The Jimny is an old model, first launched in '98, and after such a long run, it seems thoroughly sorted and prefectly engineered. The facelifted model is far more up to date with a better engine, transmission, seats and dash.
I am getting 36mpg average, with a mixture of off road use, fast motorway use, cruising and spirited B-road driving, which I think is remarkable for this type of car.
If you think it is just a cutesy hairdressers car, drive one and see what you think. I was so impressed, I bought one.
I am also very glad that I did. It's easy to live with, relaxing to drive, capable, astonishing off-road, and has good economy too. I am surprised!
*** Update ***
Further to the above- now covered 4,000 miles in 2 months with no issues whatsoever.
I ordered a paint-stick on delivery to deal with stone chips caused by fast lorries in our rural stony lanes, but the dealer says they have 56 on back-order and delivery may take six months!! As helpful as ever, they offered to get the chips touched in by their paint-shop free of charge- they can mix the paint colour and put some in a jar for me to take home too.
The car has been used both on and off road aggressively and runs like a Swiss watch.
For a four wheel drive it is exemplary, but is expensive to run compared to a supermini (eg Corsa) with £150 road tax and 37mpg. My brother's Citroen C1 is larger inside, has 5 doors, does 60+mpg with only £40 per year road tax. If you don't need 4WD, there are better options...!
I have found it to be versatile in any situation, even usable at a steady high speed on the motorway, however I now avoid every pothole though as these do jar the ride.
*** Update ***
I now write to say that I now understand the worries about handling and stability.
I have owned 51 cars and 20 motorbikes, and cover a high annual mileage. I hold a coach licence, a car licence and a motorbike licence, and have had extensive training on a skid pan, and I have used both front and rear wheel drive cars on a track. I am familiar with the instability of high four-wheel drive vehicles and drive according to the conditions. I have (had!) seven years no-claims bonus.
In a line of slow traffic, I exited an island onto a dual carriageway and changed up from 2nd to 3rd at approx 25mph. While doing so, I hit a grease patch and the rear of the car unexpectedly and wildly flung out, broadsiding me along the road. Using my training, I gently steered into the skid, but could not recover control and hit the kerb with the offside rear wheel at approx 15mph. The car immediately rolled over twice and landed on the driver's side, necessitating an escape out of the boot.
I am aghast as to how easily this car rolled over at such a slow speed, causing so much damage.
The Jimny is a total loss, with every panel damaged. The roof did stand up well to the impact, allowing both doors to be opened when winched back upright, but the driver's seat collapsed dangerously and the car lost all of it's fluids across the road.
The contents of the boot, owing to the lack of a parcel shelf, liberated themselves around the car to give the effect of being stuck in a washing machine full of bricks. My Tom-Tom navigation unit jumped off its mount and clobbered me in the face too.
I previously commented that I would not recommend the car to a novice, but after this, I would not recommend it to anyone who wants to use it extensively on the road, rather than off it.
So to sum the car up:
Positive: well built, reliable, good dealers, truly astounding off-road capabilities, good turning circle, cheap to buy, endearing.
Negative: dated technology and safety equipment, thirsty (30-37mpg), hairy in the wet, unstable with four people on board, catastrophic stability on greasy surfaces, rolls over very easily.
I now understand why the Jimny is not imported into America - they would sue!!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th September, 2006
23rd Oct 2006, 15:11
The Jimny got some bad press here in Sweden, one flipped over during a "elk-test" same test the Mercedes A-klasse failed.
31st Oct 2006, 20:32
I can only agree with your comments about the handling.
I had a 2006 model (hardtop) on loan recently while my ute was getting some engine work done, and I can only say that the handling is evil.
I thought the old F25 Daihatsu tray top I had was unstable, but compared to the Jimny it was actually pretty good.
For such a nice looking and well kitted out vehicle it's a big disappointment.
To me the problem seems to be that the front end is too soft, and with possibly unequal suspension travel (longer) front to rear and a short wheelbase, the front end feels like it wants to kneel, or tuck under at the slightest provocation, and I suspect lift a rear wheel in the process. You can feel serious weight transfer happening on even moderate corners.
The F25 with military tires on wet tarmac was damn scary, but I think the Jimny would be just as lethal given its unstable nature. Throw in the over assisted power steering and its pretty skittish at freeway speeds. No wonder it failed the Moose Test in Norway.
Most short wheelbase vehicles are inherently unstable, but I think Suzuki need to seriously stiffen the suspension or antiroll geometry to get it close to satisfactory.
The package would then be pretty good.
For an off road vehicle the ground clearance and underside is OK. The only glaringly obvious bit of bad design is that the flexible brake lines clipped to the front suspension trailing links are very exposed, and look to be prize candidates to be ripped off by a half decent bit of undergrowth.
Pitty really, coz at 6'2" I fit it comfortably, and the vehicle looks the goods.