Tuesday, November 12, 2019

2019 Suzuki Jimny Second Take: A Practical Choice for SUV Lovers


The Filipino’s love for compact vehicles has not waned, despite the growing demand for higher, more practical SUVs. In this regard, the introduction of the Suzuki Jimny could not have come at a more perfect time. Dating back to 1998 and then landing in local shores in 2016 with a fresh, irresistably cute, and undoubtedly attractive design, the Jimny claimed fans among regular motorists and offroaders alike. It was utilitarian in a small, maneuverable package.

With its popularity (and in limited quantities), Suzuki went ahead and introduced the 2019 Jimny, an upgraded model that had fans waiting on their toes, given all the teasers that were being released even before its unveil in the Philippines. To be honest, I had my doubts, considering that I was not impressed with being a passenger of the 2016 model. I did not expect this new one to win me over as a driver.



The boxy Jimny arrived in all its neon green glory—loud, proud, and boasting of its wider design. On the outside, it was more rectangular that square, with the front grille and bumper greeting you with a less-than-subtle grin. What is great about this new design is that it clearly offers room for modification, making it instantly attractive to off-roaders or motorists who enjoy installing upgrades and accessories to personalize the look of the car—be it a more rugged bumper, a utility roof rack for use in road travel, sport lamps and other accessories; you name it, this Jimny can take it. This jeep-like characteristic extends all the way to the vehicle’s rear, giving you the impression that the Jimny has become quite a practical car.

And practical it is. Its predecessor, while adorable, was uncompromising when it came to space, a factor that was critical in winning over the regular Pinoy. It is not only the exterior that had widened, but also the interior accommodation. For the driver and passenger, the seats are wider and offers more back support. The bucket-design with the slightly raised sides snugly cocoons the backside, holding the driver in place. The height of the seat is not adjustable, but is at the right level that a petite female can easily see over the hood.



In terms of accessibility of controls, the Jimny is designed to be utilitarian, at its core. the dashboard is kept simple, clean, and easy to maneuver. A 9-inch touchscreen monitor sits right at the middle of the center console, within arm’s reach. It is atop the air conditioning vents and control knobs. What takes taking getting used to would be the cockpit-style switches for the automatic windows, window lock, and traction control. Since this format is not commonplace, it would help to explore this portion before getting on the road.

Still on a 2-door format, the second row is accessible only by collapsing the front passenger seat. Even so, the back row has become slightly wider in terms of legroom. Previously, the average female would have to tuck her knees in or angled to the side, and with her back completely against the backrest in order to fit. With the new configuration, the legs can remain at a 90-degree angle, more or less, allowing a more reasonable seating position.



Moving on to the cargo hold, there are 3 configurations. The first is to have the back row up, leaving you with enough space for a backpack and a duffel bag. The second option is to have 1 back seat folded down, allowing for 1 medium-sized luggage to slide right into the space. The third configuration is to fold down the other seat, giving you more than enough room to fit 2 medium-sized luggage, while adding other items on top of that. In the case of off-roaders, that would probably be a set of equipment for a weekend of camping. The downside is having to sacrifice humans for the space.

Going back to my initial statement, I did not expect the Jimny to impress me as a driver. Utility and driving comfort does not always come together. In addition, I had doubts about the stability of the vehicle. It was high, on 15-inch alloys, and seemed to lack the heft to keep it on its feet when weight was pushed against it. When I entered and got myself settled, the height was unnerving, but reassuring. The visibility was something else, both over the hood and all around, with the square-shaped windows coming all the way down to the level of my elbow.



When I finally started out on the road, there it was—the lightness of the vehicle was instantly felt, as was the responsiveness of the car. Running on a 1.5L engine, it worked with just enough power that there was hardly any downtime when accelerating. At the same time, the brakes offer that instant catch, telling you that it’s got your back, despite the initial flight. Being built for uneven terrain, considering how the most number Jimnys is found in snow-ladden Hokkaido, the vehicle performed the best when traversing unexpected road bumps, unusually high humps, and even tight turns during times when I had to go through the small backroads of the city. Despite the height, its lightweight body easily rolled over these road obstacles. The proportioned body kept it balanced, avoiding any possible turnovers.

In the end, what was commendable about the 2019 Suzuki Jimny was the fusion of utility and driver comfort. It was admittedly not the best, but it had enough support for an almost 2-hour drive through the metro’s stop-and-go traffic crawl, given the boxy structure and seat positioning. Its practicality is impressive, from becoming more comfortable for passengers to being able to hold more cargo than its predecessor. Lastly, utility does not only mean being able to move things and people, but also being able to accommodate customization to owner requirements. The Jimny offers this, as well, and easily. All these factors put together makes the 2019 Suzuki Jimny a vehicle that is a contender against the best of the SUVs.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.

1 comment:

  1. Better buy it's brother Suzuki Vitara which is much more comfortable, powerful and more practical for day to day motoring. Jimmy is a useless SUV.

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