Johannesburg - One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated vehicles is finally on sale in South Africa. Following a sneak preview at the Festival of Motoring at Kyalami in early September, Suzuki is launching the all-new Jimny to South African media this week.

Pricing remains almost identical to what was announced at the show, with the 1.5 GA manual kicking things off at R264 900 and the 1.5 GLX retailing for R299 900 in manual form and R319 900 in automatic guise.

Suzuki appears to have struck just the right chord here with blocky retro styling that fans are sure to adore and a modernised cabin with all the latest electronics including Apple CarPlay, and yet it remains a proper off-roader at its core.

The new Jimny is 45mm wider than before and sits on a redesigned ladder-frame chassis, incorporating an X member between the axles to improve torsional rigidity, and gaining new coil springs and shocks.

For the bundu bashing side of the equation, ground clearance has been raised by 20mm to 210mm, with approach, breakover and departure angles respectively increasing to 37, 28 and 49 degrees, from 35, 27 and 46.

As you’d expect, and unlike any of the other modern compact SUVs on the market, the Jimny has a traditional four-wheel-drive system with a transfer case, but it does also pack some modern active safety gear like ESP stability control and an electronic limited slip diff.

In an attempt to address the on-road performance criticism levelled at its predecessor, the previous Jimny's 1.3-litre petrol engine makes way for a new 1.5-litre unit, still normally aspirated but producing a more useful 75kW and 130Nm. It can be mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or, in the case of the GLX, a four-speed autobox.

There are now two specification grades to choose between, with the entry-level GA trim joining the range as a more affordable option.

The GA (above) still packs all the basic comfort and safety amenities such as air conditioning, power steering, dual airbags, ABS brakes and stability control, but you’ll have to wind your windows up and down manually, and there’s no radio either. It also rides on 15-inch steel wheels rather than alloys - but if anything, that just makes it look tougher. This one’s for the more traditional, hard-core Jimny fan.

The GLX is the one for trendier urban folk and it takes a big leap in terms of specification, adding a 17.8 touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic climate control, remote central locking, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and those electric windows and mirrors that many are not prepared to live without these days.

On the outside, the flagship gets 15-inch alloy wheels and LED projector headlights. 

Over and above all that, Suzuki also offers a wide range of accessories for the new Jimny models.

All versions are sold with a five-year/200 000km warranty but service plans differ according to grade, with the GA sorted for two years or 30 000km and the GLX getting coverage for four years or 60 000km.

We’re currently attending the national media launch in Mpumalanga, so watch this space next week for driving impressions.

PRICES

1.5 GA manual R264 900
1.5 GLX manual R299 900
1.5 GLX auto R319 900

IOL Motoring