Hamamatsu, Japan - Suzuki’s new Jimny has officially broken cover after months of speculation and semi-official leaks, with the confirmation from Suzuki Auto SA that yes, it will be released in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Suzuki has also squashed at least one of the rumours that have been buzzing around the cybergarage by specifying only one engine choice for the global market outside Japan - a 1462cc, naturally-aspirated DOHC 16-valve long-stroke petrol four rated for 75kW at 6000 revs and 130Nm at 4000rpm - an almost 20 percent improvement on the 1.3-litre current model’s 63kW and 110Nm.

It has, however, retained one special feature that has earned it an almost cult-like following the world over; the extra grunt gets channeled via your choice of either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, and an old-school manual transfer case to either the rear wheels (2H) or all four (4H/4L) as the terrain demands, with automatic individual braking of any wheel that tries to break free (AllGrip Pro).

As diminutive as it is (3480mm overall on a 2250mm wheelbase, 1645mm wide and 1725 high) the new Jimny still has a separate ladder frame and old-school rigid axles - albeit with coil springs all round - and it is still one of the most ruggedly built beetle-crushers on the planet. Braking is similarly old-school, with discs in front and twin leading-shoe drums at rear.

But rugged doesn’t have to mean rough; the LED headlights have their own washers, while  the all-black interior includes analogue speedometer and rev counter in individual binnacles, a trip computer display and a big colour infotainment touchscreen over dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, in a tall centre stack.

All the switchgear is big and chunky, specifically shaped for easy operation while wearing  gloves - Suzuki obviously intends that you should take the new Jimny way outside your comfort zone, given that it boasts an approach angle of 37 degrees, a departure angle of 49 degrees and a ramp breakover angle of 28 degrees, thanks to 210mm of ground clearance, and a turning circle of less than 10 metres.

Suzuki hasn’t quoted any performance figures - but then the Jimny has never been about acceleration or top speed; it’s about taking you to places very few other standard off-roaders can go, in more comfort than you’d expect, and bringing you safely home again. We look forward to doing just that when we get a new Jimny for review.

IOL Motoring