Overlanding with the new Suzuki Jimny 5-door

It was a driving experience all my friends wanted to hear about. 

And it’s mostly because it’s a vehicle that’s been eagerly awaited by everyone.  

Yes, the globally adored Suzuki Jimny has now sprouted two more doors and has stretched its wheelbase (and overall length) by a whopping 340 millimeters. 

The new Jimny 5-door, which is made in India (the 3-door is made in Japan) and starts at P1,558,000 for the manual version and P1,698,000 for the automatic, stretches the cuteness factor, while retaining all the versatility of a legendary off-roader. Its delightfully squarish body not only conveys off-road capability, but also contributes to the driver’s visual awareness with its superb outward visibility, which was a boon when we negotiated the lahar bed strewn with rocks and vegetation on our drive to Lake Mapanuepe in Zambales. The upright A-pillars and flat clamshell hood improve visibility through the front windshield, while the dipped lines of the driver and passenger windows extend visibility from the side. 

The 5-door Jimny boasts chrome accents on the front grille, a distinctive feature that accentuates the grille’s unique 5-slot design. Features such as the signature round headlamps and 15-inch dark-metallic alloy wheels further enhance the ruggedly cute exterior styling. The 195/80R15 Bridgestone Dueler tires seemed skinny at first glance, but provided just the right amount of traction even on the soft lahar bed. The Jimny also boasts LED headlamps with washers, power-folding side mirrors, and scuff-resistant front and rear bumpers. 

The theme of practicality and functionality extends to the highly functional interior, which avoids unnecessary colors or decorations to minimize distractions, allowing the driver to focus on navigating the vehicle. Horizontal lines on the instrument panel and vertical lines in the meter cluster and center console panels assist the driver in gauging the vehicle’s angle, useful when driving slanted on hills and on mountainous terrain.

The rear seat has undergone enhancements, featuring thicker seat cushions to provide better seating posture and comfortably accommodate two adults. Positioned directly above the rear passengers, the rear seat lamp ensures improved lighting, while the rear seat power window switches are conveniently located on both the rear doors and the front console box for easy control from both rows.

The extended wheelbase of the 5-door model (now up to 2,590mm) results in an expanded luggage area. Although the luggage box from the 3-door model has been removed, the lowered floor height and increased depth of the luggage area now offer a spacious 211 liters of luggage capacity (with the rear seatback raised). It’s hardly a cavernous cargo area; we just managed to fit three medium-sized duffel bags (standing on end) side by side.  

Enhancements include a luggage area lamp and the removal of the toolbox for simplified loading and unloading of luggage. Like the 3-door model, the luggage area in the 5-door Jimny comes equipped with an accessory socket.

The author behind the wheel of the Suzuki Jimny 5-door

Other interior features include a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, USB and 12V accessory ports, audio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, and automatic climate control.

The new Jimny 5-door GLX variant features SRS front airbags for both the driver and seat passengers, as well as side airbag and curtain airbags for occupants in both the front and rear seats. Additionally, the vehicle is equipped with an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control, ABS with Brake Assist, ISOFIX seat anchorages, as well as a reverse parking camera and sensors to enhance overall safety. It even has an injury-mitigation body for pedestrian safety. 

The Jimny 5-door features a spirited 1.5-liter engine (102ps/130Nm), tuned for off-roading. It retains crucial off-roading features from the Jimny 3-door— ALLGRIP PRO, a sturdy ladder frame, exceptional approach, breakover, and departure angles, 3-link rigid axle suspension with coil springs and part-time 4WD with low-range transfer gear. 

The 5-door’s longer wheelbase translates to better riding comfort overall, whether on smooth roads or on bumpy surfaces. It also makes the Jimny feel more stable at high speed, although its light weight and boxy shape still make it susceptible to crosswinds at high speed. 

On the lahar beds of Zambales, we were told to shift to 4WD High, which we all did. Driving back, I deliberately stayed on 2WD to see how capable the Jimny was. It managed to travel 80 percent of the way, and only when we were on the really soft sands did it get bogged down. One quick shift to 4WD High got us out in an instant. And that’s with stock tires.   

The engine is smooth and strong enough for everyday driving in the city as well as when going off road at low to medium speeds. Obviously not its strong point is sustained high-speed driving (i.e. on SCTEX), where cruising at 100 km/h has the engine spinning at 3,500 rpm in top (4th) gear. It should be around 2,800-3,000 rpm only for less noise and better fuel economy. The Jimny feels most relaxed at 80 km/h. There is some engine drone that seems most noticeable when you’re doing 30-50 km/h, but the engine note starts to sound nice when you rev it upwards of 4,000 rpm, becoming even sporty sounding as it approaches the 6,000-rpm redline.

All things considered, the Jimny 5-door is a superb alternative to the 3-door in that it preserves all of its smaller brother’s legendary off-road capabilities, while adding more space and easier entry-exit to the back seats for passengers or camping stuff alike.  

Would I recommend it? Heck, I want one myself. 

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