Butch. The one word to describe Suzuki Jimny. That was my first impression of it, that first time I saw a unit traversing the roads of Tagaytay, seemingly calling for attention as a somewhat masculine – albeit in a cute way – car a la Jeep Wrangler. That word returned to me when the unit to test arrived in Las Piñas.
Look-wise (from outside), the Jimny is somewhat of an attention-grabber, with a rugged retro look that could easily remind one of the likes of the early Wranglers or early RAV4 or – perhaps also more aptly – those locally-made owner-type jeeps (particularly in provinces) that served as the very first vehicle driven by oh-so-so many. With fog lamps, hood scoop, roof rails, 15″ alloy wheels and “masculine” color options (i.e. Superior White, Silky Silver Metallic, Granite Grey, Bluish Black Pearl and Cool Khaki Pearl Metallic), this one’s somewhat of a hot item when seen.
Inside Jimny, though, it’s a different story. The word that comes to mind is… functional; in a tight (if not cluttered) space. The seats – which use synthetic leather upholstery – are stiff. The headrest for the front seats are awkwardly positioned, so that the user is forced to firmly sit; no slouching or even comfy napping/sleeping can be done here (this perky position can be good for the driver as it keeps one awake; but it can be tiring when doing long drives). At the back, two passengers (as there are only two seatbelts there) will have to fight for space to be comfy, and forcing three can be a nightmare (if they fit at all, depending on the built and weight of the passengers; though small kids should do).
The back seats can fold (for luggage), and truth be told, layout may have been better this way – i.e. turn it into a two-seater, or (if this isn’t an option at all) with the back passengers facing each other and the empty space in front of them serving as space for stuff/luggage (much like the owner type jeeps); at least if this is the layout, legroom may be bettered.
There are definitely numerous pluses – e.g. fully-trimmed (albeit plastic-looking/feeling) dashboard, well positioned meters (easy reading indeed), high seating position (oozes with sex appeal; aside from allowing you to actually see your hood, like some lord/lady overseeing his/her space), cool A/C (I suppose for the small space this isn’t surprising), dual front airbags, multiple storage spaces (the sides for the back passengers have the armrest, for instance), and 2WD/4WD/4WD-L options. And – this has to be stressed – HUGE windows that seem to place who’s inside the Jimny outside, too. It’s almost like being in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Let me state, though, that perhaps because of its size, the Jimny is also seen as “cute”. I’ve lost count how many times the Jimny has been complimented as “way nice” – e.g. truck drivers in Agoncillo, Batangas; traffic enforcers in Lucban, Quezon; passersby in Balayan, Batangas; and even pedestrians in Bacoor, Cavite. If combining “cute” and “butch” is possible, then the Jimny’d be the exemplification of that…
The Jimny’s size bodes well in city driving (I have seen smaller cars in the streets of San Francisco; but this comes close). Squeezing in the unrealistically tight parking spaces of, say, Cybergate in Mandaluyong City (behind Robinson Forum) or Greenbelt is somewhat breezy.
But with the reservations re the Jimny’s compactness (here mainly because it really is TIGHT), how it performs matters big time. And the Jimny has an all-aluminum engine, with the twincom 1,328cm3 powerplant spinning to high revs to provide lots of torque and instant response (e.g. traverse EDSA and fight for street space with the buses or truck there, and note the Jimny’s more than apt handling, braking and accelerating).
But of course this is also being sold as an all-terrain vehicle. Specifically:
- Press the 2WD button to disengage the front driveshaft and reduce noise and vibration;
- Press the 4WD button to engage the 4H setting, which is ideal for off-road surfaces; and
- Press the 4WD-L button, which engages the 4L setting, for even rougher terrain.
#1 was easy; that’s basically the “normal” driving with the Jimny – e.g. Coastal Road (from Baclaran to Las Piñas), where (true to form) noise and vibration were reduced.
I’d say fuel consumption for city driving wasn’t as good as other Suzuki offerings (at least in my experience, think Ciaz and Celerio), with a full tank covering approx. 300kms. This is no gas guzzler, yes; but seeing how fast that dial went down from “F” to “E” gave me (as always) that anxious feeling…
For #2 and #3, off we went to the south to try the Jimny. The off-road capabilities of the Jimny were tested at Naculo Falls, a somewhat hidden and not-that-often visited destination in Cavinti, Laguna (not too far from Pagsanjan). I didn’t know until late(r), but – as per local chika (storytelling) – the road wasn’t that good there that a van just stopped running; the same van is still there, left in the middle of (almost) nowhere. When there, the locals (they carry gravel from the area near the falls to the upper areas of Cavinti) just said the roads are “madulas (slippery)”. Only when we were trying to maneuver out of the “putik (mud)” did they say: “Puwedeng iwanan ang sasakyan sa taas (You can leave the car in the upper area).” But the Jimny held well; able to traverse the slippery slopes.
Perhaps worth noting was the benefit of the size of the Jimny in this situation. Because it was small-ish, the center of gravity was a-OK; and chances of turning over didn’t even occur to me. And then when there was an area where the Jimny could be turned around (instead of just attempting to get out of the literally sticky situation by reversing), the unit fitted the tight spot well.
But rough(er) roads weren’t the only contexts that used the 4WD and 4WD-L capabilities of the Jimny. From Cavinti back to Las Piñas, we traversed the less frequented roads that allow tourists (like moi!) to enjoy the small towns that thrive along Taal Lake – e.g. Laurel, Agoncillo and Nasugbu. There, the roads were, I’d say, almost pasted on irregularly shaped hills, so that driving meant needing power. Smaller inclines only needed 2WD; but 4WD (and at times 4WD-L) helped a lot for the sharper climbs.
Road surface-wise, I noted, too, how Jimny was “malikot (moved a lot)” on concrete road; but wasn’t on asphalt.
Outside the city, fuel consumption got better. From full tank to nil, well over 400kms were covered.
I still think Jimny’s one butch/masculine car. Or perhaps that’s just because I’m nostalgic for a retro-looking offering (?). But looks – as we know – aren’t everything when buying cars. And here, Jimny can be said to be… lacking, e.g. the cramped space inside, ultra-basic offerings (I don’t know why but the AM/FM player reminds me of the tow vehicles in outback Australia), no accessories that should be (as we say in tech world) OOTB (“out of the box”; such as that much-needed USB outlet), not-that-comfy driving (check the aforementioned stiff seats and non-adjustable headrests), not even a driver’s seatbelt reminder lamp, singular inside light, no fuel consumption gauge, tunog lata sound system, et cetera.
Yes, it delivers on the 4×4 experience it promises – to an extent. And yes, it does have its pluses (also as earlier mentioned).
And so, I suppose, the Jimny’s appeal will be very… personal.
I’m trying to find a fitting analogy cum summation here…
So now let me put it this way: If, for instance, you are a bachelor/bachelorette only looking to drive a somewhat mean-looking car (with the 4WD promise to boot), then by all means, consider the Jimny. But the moment you want to take someone home with you, and you’d already need that comfy passenger seat (as well as the other she-bangs) to accommodate the other party/parties, then the Jimny becomes a tricky proposition.
This may not be the coolest analogy/summation (I know, I know…), but you get the point…
Jimny comes in three variants: JX 1.3L – M/T (selling for P738,000); JLX 1.3L – M/T (P790,000); and JLX 1.3L – A/T (P845,000).