Suzuki Jimny in its natural habitat

Due to a recent business decision to import units from India, the Suzuki Jimny is starting to become more visible in the eyes of the public – to my elation, actually. The small SUV is an eye-candy, and I couldn’t help but smile whenever I see one. Whatever color it wears, or whether it’s a two-tone version or the monotone one, seeing a Jimny always makes my day.

But let’s face the truth – majority of Jimny owners won’t take their cute ladder-frame rig to its natural habitat, which is unchartered territories that roads have yet to reach. 

So I took one for a spin on the sandy surfaces of Pampanga and had a bit of fun. Here’s what I learned.

Ready for battle

The Jimny is dressed for the part right off the showroom. In fact, its 15-inch alloy wheels, no matter how narrow they look, are already wrapped in all-terrain tires. And of course, a three-link rigid axle suspension with coil spring setup, which are robust and ready to take beating.

The black front and rear bumpers, along with the extended fender flares, add protection from hardcore off-road elements. Not that the body needed that, though. With its short wheelbase, a 28º approach angle and a very impressive 49º departure angle, it would be hard to scrape the Jimny’s front and rear undersides.

Inside, the Jimny is riddled with durable materials to withstand the test of time (and careless owners), but what makes them good is that they’re easy to clean. Speaking of cleaning, the Jimny is also equipped with headlamp washers that work as intended. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

Imperfectly nimble

During the actual off-road drive, the Jimny felt home. Maneuvering through the sandy trails was a cinch despite the tough steering; the Jimny’s size proved to be its greatest advantage. And while not exactly a perfect run, the ruggedness of the SUV made the whole experience exhilarating, which I think is better than other more expensive (and coddled) off-roaders.

In fact, our adventure in Pampanga happened with a Ranger Raptor in tow. Sure, the Jimny wasn’t as fast and quick as the Fox-equipped pickup truck, but I’m sure that I had just as much fun, which brings me to my next point.

Power on point

It’s mind-boggling to think how the Ertiga MPV’s engine is the same one found inside the Jimny SUV. The 1.5-liter K15B power plant makes the same 100hp and 130Nm of torque as the MPV, but the biggest difference is that the mill powers all wheels via a classic transfer case. 

The way Suzuki has engineered this part of the Jimny is commendable as I didn’t feel the need for more power during the off-road excursion. The aging 4-speed transmission may not be the most ideal gearbox on cement roads but in off-roading, there’s a wide space for grunts especially at low gears, perfect for finding the right torque as applicable.

Tech when needed

While not exactly high-tech, the Jimny is actually equipped with some driving nannies for applicable uses. It has a clinometer in its massive infotainment that tells the driver of essential off-roading information, plus the Hill Hold and Hill Descent Controls work as intended. The Jimny is also equipped with a brake LSD traction control for tough situations, which I personally experienced on really low-traction surfaces.

Overall, the Jimny was a lot of fun to play around with in its natural habitat. I highly encourage owners of the cute SUV to try off-roading to experience the fun themselves. There are several locations near Metro Manila that they can go to, which range from beginner to intermediate off-road courses.

As cliché as it sounds, it’s not about the destination but more of the journey that takes you there. There isn’t any adage more fitting than that with the Jimny.

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