Driving report: Suzuki launches second-smallest 4×4 SUV

The past week, Suzuki launched the second smallest 4×4 SUV, with only the 3-door Jimny taking the crown as the smallest 4×4 on the market. 

November 2018. This was the month in which I fell in love with the JB74 Jimny. I distinctively remember this date as I had to wait an agonising two months (since the 2018 Festival of Motoring), to get my hands onto the steering wheel. On 1 November, Facebook reminded me of this 5-year “anniversary”, just as I was about to embark on yet another Jimny launch; this time for the 5-door. 

As in 2018, Suzuki South Africa teased the public with several 5-door public appearances, of which the 2023 Festival of Motoring, and the Jimny Gathering / Suzuki Safari Town, were just a few; and in similar fashion to the former date, prospective customers already signed their names onto the waiting lists. 

This constantly surprises me; such is the demand of the Jimny, that people would commit to their purchase, without the price being confirmed. October saw mayhem on social media platforms, as dealers shared images of the first 5-door arrivals, while onlookers were desperately searching for the prices. This was to be released the week ahead of the 5-door media launch. 

After the 2018 launch, I vouched to purchase one myself. A similar trend followed during the 2023 launch, leaving me with a severe dilemma. I am not planning on selling my 3-door… 

Why the need for a 5-door? 

The question should rather be: “Why not?” 

The central problem of the three door, was that it was just too small. Although the 3-door has rear seats, the boot space is limited to less than 90L of volume space, which is not ideal for a family of 4. Yet, the car is ideal for a family of two, as me and my wife have discovered over the past year; traversing rugged terrain all over South Africa and even a brief stint through Lesotho. 

Meeting a fellow motoring journalist during one of our excursions, I even learned the car can work for a family of three, by simply adding a roofbox. 

A lot can be said from several other motoring journalists also own a certain car. This is currently a global phenomenon with the Gen4 Jimny. 

Yet, as with the previous owner of my own Jimny, several people had to let go of their beloved Jimnies, as a shortage of space proved to be a determining factor. 

This is set to change with the 5-door, as the car sees a length extension of 340mm as well as a few minor updates. 

While this is basically the length of a ruler, it resulted in a magnificent interior overhaul. Legroom for rear occupants is now far more manageable, while the boot space has increased to 211L (expandable to 1311L with the rear seats folded down). Even more astonishing is the fact that none of none of the 4×4 capabilities have been taken away, while the new 5-door still features a similar power delivery (75kW and 130Nm), whilst delivering a similar fuel economy below 8L/100km. In fact, across our 500km launch excursion (which mainly consisted of 4×4 and low-range driving), the fuel economy delivered a welcoming 8.3L / 100km. 

This is largely because the increase in length, only resulted in an added weight of 105kg. Therefore, there was no need to replace the existing K15B 1.5L petrol engine found in the 3-door Jimny. Many would argue with this point, stating that the 1.5L runs out of steam on the highway, yet the reality is that the Jimny should not be seen as a long-haul, highway flyer. 

Rather, the 1.5L and weight combination of just over a ton proves to be the ideal synergy for effective power delivery in soft sand and on gravel roads, whilst also delivering a respectable fuel economy. 

What’s new? 

Not much is new, when comparing the 5-door to the 3-door, expect for a few esthetics. Inside, both the GL and GLX models (the GLX is sold with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual, while the GL is only sold as the latter) look very similar to its shorter siblings. The main difference is that the GLX will now be fitted with a new 9-inch infotainment screen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), as well as 6 airbags, compared to 7-inch infotainment system (like the screen size on the 3-door GLX) and the two from airbags in the GL- and the 3-door specs. 

Both models also feature a new grey and chrome five-grid radiator cover, instead of the older black-plastic version. 

In terms of the interior esthetics, the rear cabin light has now been placed above the rear seats to allow more lighting for rear occupants. A boot light has, however, been fitted to the left rear panel, along with the two standard 12V socket (one in the front and one in the rear of the cabin). 

Furthermore, the GL and GLX feature 4 electronically operated windows, while the front occupants can also lock the doors and electronically adjust the rear windows from the front centre console. This is a handy feature, especially when one has toddlers, occupying the rear seats. 

Another feature (of the GLX) is that the headlight height can also be adjusted, while the 5-door also features parking sensors and reverse cameras across the range. 

Additionally, the instrument panel (the screen between the speedometer and the rev meter) has also been upgraded to now feature white digits, complete with the exterior temperature, clock, and fuel tank data / range. Compared to the old instrument panel in the 3-door, this now features “instant fuel economy”, as well as a seatbelt monitor.

As with the 3-door, the 5-dooor also now features foldable mirrors. 

One feature, which might perhaps be fitted as an aftermarket part, is the “upper luggage floor board”. These come standard with 3-door GLX models and would be a nice addition to the 5-door in order to allow for an equally flat luggage floor; as the rear seats do not fold flat completely. 

How does it drive? 

The overall length extension of the new 5-door Jimny, has results in a new approach angle of 36-degrees (1 degree less than the three door), a breakover angle of 24-degrees (4 degrees less than the three door), and a departure angle of 47 degrees (2 degrees less than the three door). Ultimately, this has no real effect on the 4×4 capabilities of the Jimny, as we recently tested in Botswana. 

Our (very well-planned) route took us from Polokwane (Limpopo), across the pothole filled R521 to Alldays, and then to the Platjan border entry of Botswana. From there we would realistically not see tarred road again until the next day, when we entered South Africa once again via the Pont Drift Border Post.  

This presented us the opportunity to test the AllGrip 4×4 system on the Jimny (featured as standard in all Jimnies). Whilst traversing the R521 in two-wheel (rear-wheel) drive, the potholed roads forced us onto the parallel jeep tracks, which proved to be way more fun, even in two-wheel drive. 

Upon entering Botswana, we mainly switched between 4H (high) and 4L (low) for the next 24 hours as we encountered a mixture of thick riverbed sand, mud, and rocks. Thanks to the 5-door only weighing in at 105kg more than the 1100kg 3-door Jimny, we simply glided through the riverbeds, whilst hopping over the rocky sections. Even the tight bends proved no match for the Jimny. 

It must be mentioned that the 5-door seemed much more refined than the 3-door, especially when it came to overall road- and engine noise, a stark contrast I immediately realized upon climbing into my own 3-door upon arrival. Whilst the engine still runs just below 4 000rpm at 120km/h, the insulation to the cabin dampens this sound greatly. 

Whilst I also expected the 5-door to be more comfortable and manageable on the gravel- and open roads, I did not expect 340mm in length to make such a big difference. Whereas the driver of a 3-door must be active with the steering, especially on loose gravel roads, as well as with passing trucks on the highways, the 5-door is much more manageable. To be brutally honest, this factor alone, swayed me towards the 5-door camp. 

Yet, it must be argued that any short-wheel base 4×4 will have its limitations, with space, practicality and overall road handling being the main headscratchers; yet its 4×4 abilities are impeccable. 

One would think that while the 5-door would eliminate the above negatives, it would be less of a “true off-roader”. At least, this is what I thought, yet I could not have been more wrong. 

Suzuki has now created a longer, more practical 4×4, without taking away any of the iconic “Jimny” characteristics. The Jimny 5-door now removes the previous limitations of the 3-door, without compromising any of its other stand-out features. 

Overall verdict 

The 5-door is the perfect addition to the Jimny range as it has not lost any of its offroad abilities and general appeal. In fact, we think that as an overall package, the 5-door might even be worth more in terms of value-for-money than the 3-door. 

Similarly, the price-range is also well below what we expected, making this the best off-road 4×4 available below R500 000. 

The general improved ride quality, extra practicality, and ‘quirkiness’ has made this vehicle a no-brainer to own, especially considering that there is only a R39 000 price difference between the GL specifications. 

We certainly think Suzuki will cement, and improve its third position in the overall sales figures. 


The range will top-out with the GLX 5-door Automatic at R479 900, well below the R500k mark. 

Suzuki Jimny 1.5L GL AllGrip (3-door) manualR390 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GL AllGrip (3-door) automaticR412 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX AllGrip (3-door) manual R416 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GL AllGrip (5-door) manual R429 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX AllGrip (3-door) automaticR438 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX AllGrip (5-door) manual R457 900
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX AllGrip (5-door) automaticR479 900

All Jimny models will be sold with a 5-year/200 000km warranty and a 4-year/60 000km service plan.

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