New Suzuki Jimny Review 2021

New Suzuki jimny

What is the Suzuk Jimny?

I’m sure you are just as concerned about the environment as I am – probably even more so, given your work. I’ll also assume you won’t be buying a Suzuki Jimny LCV (light commercial vehicle) either. Not that the two statements are related, although maybe they are…

The new commercial version of the Jimny owes its very existence to some clever thinking on Suzuki’s part to keep the model on sale. It’s CO2 emissions are way higher than what a normal car can get away with these days and even in small sales numbers would have a hugely detrimental impact on Suzuki’s average CO2 emissions. They need to be below 95g/km or manufacturers face heavy fines for being overly polluting. Suzuki’s new line-up of hybrid passenger cars doesn’t match with the petrol-only Jimny, but when reframed as a van (whose emission regulations are more lenient) they’re suddenly playing to a new set of rules.

It’s mechanically identical to the Jimny car, but meets the N1 classification for vans by taking out the rear seats and adding a bulkhead. In doing so, the fourth generation Jimny, that was only launched in 2018, gets a reprieve and can stay on sale as a van.

Except it’s not really a van as with a maximum length of just 916 mm and a total capacity of 0.86 cubic metres you couldn’t fit a mower in the back and you’d even struggle to get something as mundance as a rake in without threading it through the part-mesh protective bulkhead.

However, in its favour, the conversion has been done well with a neat-looking rear loadspace that creates a completely flat floor. It is carpeted – which you wouldn’t want in a van – and the plastic edges will get scuffed in no time, but that’s not the Jimny LCV’s biggest problem.

Not wanting to body shame the little 4×4, it has a real weight issue. Not its own weight, as at just over one tonne it’s featherlight. The problem is its payload capacity. It’s rated to carry a truly pathetic 120kg – this is because of the limits of the rear axle and the position of that weight (on it and behind it) in the loadspace.

1.5-litre petrol engine

Practicality aside, the Jimny LCV is the same as the car version with a 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 100hp with 130Nm of torque. Maximum power does come high up in the rev range at 6,000rpm because it is a petrol and the peak torque (which is sufficient rather than plentiful) comes in at 4,000rpm.

It’s a van for slow driving too, as at those high engine speeds it is a rather noisy place to be. Heaven forbid you might want to use it on a motorway or capitalise on its 1,300kg max towing capacity as well. You’d really begin to notice the din if you did, but the Jimny isn’t about all these extremes unless you’re talking about extreme off-roading.

If you’ve rearranged someone’s country estate, I mean literally torn the land to pieces and still need to swing by and check on the Hornbeam at the bottom of the paddocks, then do it in a Jimny LCV. You’ll have the time of your life. Where the short wheelbase of just 2,250mm makes the ride uncomfortably bouncy on the road, it helps it off-road. Short wheelbase and even shorter overhangs mean that you can go surprisingly far in this little off-roader. The three-link suspension with coil springs give an average performance on the road, but when slowly picking your way over mud or through water you’ll be grateful for their simplicity and ability. Coupled with the ALLGRIP Pro selectable four-wheel-drive system you’re unlikely to get stuck anywhere, despite it not having a differential, only some smart electronics. It’s 210mm ground clearance is its biggest negative, but 37-degree approach angle and 49-degree departure angle redeem it somewhat.

Jimny LCV is a basic vehicle, as underlined by the fact that there are no trim level options. The van gets the lower of the two specifications offered on the car version with DAB radio and Bluetooth rather than a fancy touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Apart from air conditioning, that’s pretty much your lot, but at £16,796 (ex VAT) you could hardly expect it to rival the Land Rover Defender Hard Top (which is twice the price for a basic model).

Basic pick-up

It’s more akin to a basic pick-up truck and is the sort of vehicle that if left to its own devises on a farm would probably thrive. But, I doubt you’ll find many there as the Jimny LCV is afterall something of an emissions dodger. This little van has slipped through the net of legislation and for the lucky 400 or so customers (only a limited number will be available in the UK) who will get this year’s allocation, they will likely use them just as they would the passenger car version (minus the seats) and won’t care an ounce about the emissions or its paltry payload.

Words by George Barrows