Ask any self-respecting car enthusiast in India about their favourite car, and there’s a chance you’d hear long stories about the Maruti Gypsy. Either they’ve owned one or have a plan chalked out to do so. It had been available off the dealerships long enough to trigger the nostalgia or even the desire to own one just by a mere mention. But to own something that’s just as iconic as the Gypsy, promises the same simplicity, usability, and the no-nonsense approach but doesn’t seem like it’s from the early nineties would be the ideal way forward. Enter the all-new 2019 Suzuki Jimny, a car hugely anticipated across the globe — and one that has more in common with our beloved Gypsy than just a brand name.
Before going any further, let’s also establish that the Gypsy was essentially the second-generation Suzuki Jimny sold elsewhere. The fourth-generation vehicle that’s recently announced makes quite a leap in terms of design and the equipment. But thankfully without straying from the original objective: it’s still bound to be a pocket-friendly off-road monster.
Suzuki loves a good throwback, and the new Jimny has quite a few of those. Taking the connection to the Gypsy even further, there’s the circular headlamps, radiator grille with vertical slats, a clamshell bonnet, dual horizontal slits next to the bonnet, and bumper-mounted horizontal combination tail lamps. Even more satisfying to the eye is the new car’s boxy, upright, Kei-car-like styling. The wheel-arch extensions and black bumpers might look ungainly on a hatchback but on this, these are just perfect — and purposeful, too. There’s a bit of Jeep and G-Wagen in the design, and it works tremendously well. Because like both the Jimny has stood the test of time, and when it comes to no-nonsense off-roading, it might even have a chance to pip them as well.
It’s on the inside where the magic’s happened, especially if you compare this with a Gypsy. The Jimny’s three-door cabin isn’t just more modern, Suzuki seems to have take the rough edges and replaced those with character. It is also the first interior in a Suzuki where the SmartPlay screen doesn’t look out of place. The rear bench folds flat and opens up some space for camping gear — or whatever you’d want to take along on your adventure trip.
And seeking adventure is where the new Jimny will impress like its predecessors. It boasts some respectable figures and standard feature set for a lifestyle-orientated off-road-ready vehicle. To start with, it comes with Suzuki’s ALLGRIP Pro off-road system, replete with the ability to manually switch between 2H, 4H, and 4L. There’s a 3-link, rigid axle, coil spring suspension mounted on the Jimny’s ladder frame.
Powering the vehicle is a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 100 bhp@6000 rpm and 13.2 kgm@4000 rpm. The gearbox options include a five-speed manual and a four-speed AT. It will be market-dependent but given the choice, it would always be the manual for us, wouldn’t it?
The rather simple setup means the Jimny tips the scales at just 1135 kilos (kerb weight; with full options). It also gets a brake LSD which ensures getting out of tricky situations is easier. The system detects slippage, applies brakes to the wheels with low grip, and redistributes torque to the wheels which have traction. Add to that the short wheelbase (2,250 mm), minimum ground clearance (210 mm), approach angle (37 degrees), departure angle (49 degrees) and the ramp breakover angle (28 degrees), and Suzuki clearly has a potential off-road extraordinaire right there. Something like the MX-5 which you would use to enjoy track driving and not exactly to obliterate every supercar in sight.
Although Maruti is yet to comment about offering the 2019 Suzuki Jimny in India, but it makes a strong case for itself for a market like ours. First, there’s the dearth of SUVs that are ready to go off the road. They are either loaded to the brim with options and weight, dress up as coupes, or worse still masquerade as SUVs without the running gear required for the task. Second, the enthusiast market desperately needs a Gypsy that’s more modern. And thirdly it’s too hard to ignore a world-class product like the Jimny.
Having said that, when (and if) launched, it won’t cannibalise the sales of the Brezza or even hold a candle to (in terms of sales) one of the other mass-market cars out there. But as far as having an enthusiast-centric offering in the line up goes, this has the potential to be Maruti’s strongest product. Just like the Gypsy.