One case: Suzuki vs. Consumers Union.
Wherever you stand on that infamous case, whether you think that the Suzuki actually represented a roll-over risk on evasive maneuvers due to its short wheelbase, narrow track, and high center of gravity, or Consumer Reports was out looking for blood and decided they were going to make the Samurai roll, the results were still the same. That blow pretty much guaranteed the demise of the Samurai in America. But it has been 28 years since that unfortunate incident. Not only are foreign version of those Samurais perfectly legal to import and register in the United States again, but a lot of things have happened with Suzuki’s little off-roaders since then. One of them is that the new Suzuki Jimny.
Well, I say new; it has actually been quite a while since the new Jimny was introduced to the public. It was originally launched in 1998, which means it’s of legal drinking age on most states of the union by now. But when you have a car like this it’s not really necessary to give it constant updates. There’s not even a lot to update in it.
I love it; here’s a car that’s all things to everyone. People who never venture out of the city will appreciate the fact that it’s easy to park, “cute”, and remains stylish and left-field in a world of cookie-cutter crossovers. Not to mention that style and cuteness comes at a low price. And those who actually use their off-road abilities will appreciate the fact that it’s still a body-on-frame car on a ladder chassis and it comes with low-range and vacuum-locking hubs. Independent suspension? What’s that? The Jimny comes with solid axles front and rear.
It’s perfectly capable of keeping going even when mother nature throws deep mud or snow on its path. And those solid axles make it easier to upgrade when even its stock capabilities are not enough to satisfy your trailing desires. For much of the rest of the world, the Jimny is the Jeep Wrangler, in 7/8 scale.
Okay, it’s not all sunshine and cuteness; there are some downsides to it. The interior, for instance, is neither comfy enough to be luxurious nor spartan enough to be hose-down. And with an 85 horsepower 1.4-liter engine as your only engine option you’ll probably want to skip the freeway between your town and the trail of your choice. Because it’s built like cars of yore it also means that it’ll be a bit bouncy on normal roads and not nearly as sparing with the dead dino juice as its tiny body and meager power output would make you believe. It’s also equipped like a car of yore.
But I’m the kind of person that would forgive those niggles to get a cheap, simple, small, reliable and fun car. What about you? Is it too much compromise for little reward? Or does it hit that perfect sweet-spot of old and new?