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Driven: 2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.

Driven: 2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV
The rugged Jimny has been transformed into a tough little van.

   



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2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The Suzuki Jimny arrived just a few years ago, but it has already undergone a massive transformation. Due to the vagaries of safety and emissions laws, the little SUV has become one of the UKís smallest vans, with the back seats ripped out and replaced with a flat-floored cage. Under the skin, itís still the same rugged 4x4 we know and love, so does the transition to commercial vehicle suit the tiny Suzuki, or has it ruined the lovable rogue?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Suzuki Jimny Commercial 1.5 AllGrip
Pricing: £16,796 plus VAT
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Body style: three-door, two-seat commercial 4x4
CO2 emissions: 173g/km
Combined economy: 36.7mpg
Top speed: 90mph
0-62mph: 13 seconds (estimated)
Power: 101hp
Torque: 130Nm
Boot space: 863 litres

What's this?

An exercise in dodging the rules. The new Jimny, which only came out a few years ago, wasnít capable of passing the emissions rules for passenger cars, so Suzuki simply converted it into a van, which doesnít have to meet the same standards.

That means the Jimny Commercial, as we should call it, is more or less identical to the passenger-carrying car, except the back seats have been ripped out to create a massive rear cargo bay with a flat floor. Given the standard carís back seats were cramped and uncomfortable anyway, there were no back doors and the boot was pathetically small, thereís nothing desperately sad about that.

The catch is the obvious lack of versatility, but at least thatís an excuse not to be the designated driver when your mates want to go for a pint. Oh, and the mesh bulkhead thatís in there for safety reasons means you canít move the front seats back quite as far, which is an issue for anyone over the height of about 5ft 10in. Otherwise, the Jimny hasnít changed a bit.

Which means itís almost perverse in its simplicity; making a point of being Spartan and unwelcoming. But thatís the Jimny way, and while it has its charms, it has plenty of foibles too. All the cabin plastics feel hard and cheap, although theyíre undoubtedly robust, and standard equipment is minimal.

Donít come to this car expecting a touchscreen infotainment system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel or heated seats. You get a DAB radio, electric front wheels and Bluetooth connectivity, but thatís about your lot. Itís stripped back and simple, which is why Suzuki is only charging £19,999 once VAT has been applied. Businesses need only spend around £17,000.

Or at least they would, if they could get hold of one. The Jimny has been such a hit that Suzukiís factory canít keep up with the orders, and pretty much every car has been snapped up. The occasional order cancellation will crop up now and then, but thereís a waiting list even for those. Which is why Jimnys that Ďshouldí cost about £20,000 brand new are selling for considerably more on the used market.

How does it drive?

Drivers who expect the Jimny to look like a proper 4x4 but handle like a road car will be sorely disappointed. This car is very much an off-roader, with the sensibilities of modern motorists either totally ignored or at least relegated to the bottom of the priorities list. Embrace that, and youíre going to love the Jimnyís honesty, but if that sounds like your idea of hell, can we recommend the Land Rover Discovery Sport?

Unlike the Land Rover, the Suzuki is powered (we use the term loosely) by a 101hp, naturally aspirated petrol engine, which is something of a blast from the past. No matter how hard you work it, performance is never electrifying Ė Suzuki doesnít publish a 0-62mph time, but we suspect weíre looking at something around 15 seconds Ė and achieving any kind of speed requires you to wring out the little four-cylinder motor. But itís fairly eager and the gearbox isnít bad, despite its long shift lever.

However, the transmission could do with a sixth ratio, because cruising at motorway speeds is a noisy affair. The Jimny isnít quiet at the best of times, but at the national speed limit, the engine is running at higher revolutions than is really necessary, leading to quite high fuel consumption and even higher noise levels. The carís boxy shape and low weight also means it is severely affected by wind, with crosswinds battering the slab-sided bodywork.

Around town, however, it really isnít too bad. Yes, the ride isnít particularly supple and the steering is slow and vague, but the visibility is very good, you can see all four corners of the car and the clutch is light. The compact dimensions make life a lot easier, too, especially when manoeuvring, parking or just creeping through narrow gaps.

On country roads, the size remains a boon Ė particularly on the tighter back roads Ė but the Jimny is not what youíd normally call Ďfuní. The body rolls enormously in corners, the steering is horrendously vague and thereís little in the way of acceleration. But in its own way, the Jimny has some appeal; the shortfalls somehow give it a kind charm, and driving it becomes a bit of a challenge.

Take it off-road, however, and itís more or less unstoppable. You get the low-range gearbox, selectable all-wheel drive and hill descent control as standard, and it all helps the Jimny plow through pretty much anything. The skinny tyres and low kerb weight will make it great in the snow, and the capability over seriously challenging terrain has to be seen to be believed. This thing will do stuff a Defender could only dream of. The only real catch is a slight lack of wading depth, which makes it harder to ford streams and ponds.

Verdict

The Jimny is a legend, and deservedly so. This commercial version has plenty of flaws, but it has plenty of charm, too. It isnít the most comfortable vehicle on the planet, nor is it the most capable, but it has a no-nonsense attitude thatís hard to dislike. Itís like a working dog, going about its business without complaint and deserving of the occasional pat for its troubles. Buyers will have to have their eyes open when they sign on the dotted line, but for those in remote areas who need a small 4x4, the lovable Suzuki is ideal. And this commercial version is, if anything, better than the original.


4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Ambience

2 2 2 2 2 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

3 3 3 3 3 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


James Fossdyke - 15 Jun 2022



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2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.

2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.2021 Suzuki Jimny LCV. Image by Suzuki.   







 

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