Car reviews - Suzuki - Jimny - xl
Seriously capable off-road straight from the showroom, much more practical than three-door, family-friendly top-tethers, improved infotainment, still really small
Room for improvement
Missing some key tech and safety features, still has 1.5L engine but weighs 100kg more, only four seats, boot still small
Jimny XL bigger and more practical, but there are a few prices to pay…
6 Dec 2023
EXPECT the Suzuki Jimny XL to be a big deal for the brand in Australia, with the new larger, more family-friendly version of the cult hit off-roader representing a value-focused offering for the adventurous customer.
It may be 340mm longer in the wheelbase (now 2590mm) and body (now 3985mm), but the Jimny XL is still a four-seat offering, which - understandably - may push buyers towards the five-seat Tank or six-seat Scorpio.
Adults can fit in the second-row relatively comfortably, though it’s not quite as roomy as some other small SUVs – but bear in mind, the back-seat amenities are scant, with no air-vents, charge ports, cup holders or bottle holders. There are electric windows and map pockets, though.
The engine is the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated unit seen in the smaller, lighter three-door, with its 75kW and 130Nm outputs coming across as adequate and nothing more - at least on paper. The weight difference is marked, though, with the larger XL model tipping the scales around 100kg heavier, so the power-to-weight ratio is even worse than the somewhat underwhelming three-door.
However, fuel consumption is stated to be identical between the three- and five-door models, with the manual rated at 6.4 litres per 100km and the auto at 6.9L/100km.
There are six colour choices available for the XL, including four carryover options from the three-door - Chiffon Ivory Metallic (with black roof), Jungle Green, Bluish Black Pearl and Arctic White Pearl, while new choices include Granite Gray metallic and Sizzling Red metallic with black roof.
Jimny XL comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five-year or 100,000km capped-price servicing plan available. Intervals are 12 months/15,000km. Five years of roadside assistance is included, too.
Firstly, the engine is… strained. Yep, that’s a way of putting it. With the same amount of power and torque as before, and a 100kg penalty to pay, it isn’t quite what you’d call zesty or zippy as you try and build pace. It can jump away from a standing start okay, but feels as though it runs short of puff shortly after – especially the four-speed auto model.
What stands out is the improvement to the ride, with the extra 340mm of wheelbase length clearly improving the comfort and control by giving it a bigger footprint on the road. The three-door is jostly and jumpy in comparison, but in the XL you don’t get the impression that the rear axle is dictating the movement of the car quite as much.
Now, the off-road element.
But it still has a terrific approach and departure angle, and the ground clearance is definitely better than other monocoque SUVs. And obviously its three-link front and rear suspension with live axles means it has off-roading running through its veins.
The fact the Jimny XL retains its shift lever for changing between high and low range is something off-road enthusiasts will love - the mechanical feel is something you just don’t get in rivals with rotary dial controllers.
The tracks we drove on at the Sydney Motor Sport Park off-road course threw up a few good challenges, with some very steep hill descents (where the descent braking system worked a treat), and similar gradients for ascents that showcased the first-gear ability of the 4x4 system and also the fact that the standard Bridgestone Dueler H/T rubber can handle some slippery situations straight from the dealership.
The steering isn’t perhaps as ‘pure’ feeling as some thanks to its electronic assistance, but it does allow the driver enough feel to negotiate slopes and moguls with confidence. In fact, that’s what is most impressive about the Jimny more generally – it is a confidence-inspiring little thing, partly because it’s so light on its feet.
And while the engine is hardly a hotty on-road, it feels a good fit in off-road driving scenarios, and the light clutch and shift action makes for easy off-road progress.
For those who have wanted a Jimny but couldn’t make it work for their family circumstances, this answers that question. It could be a more convincing answer in some ways, but those who are simply sold on the notion of this curious cult icon will overlook its various shortcomings, no doubt.
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