By Mike Torpey on 2019-08-24 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 SZ5
IT was the Greek storyteller Aesop who was credited with the saying ‘good things come in small packages'
The man who trotted out no less than 725 fables as a means of relaying a moral lesson would no doubt have had the Suzuki Jimny in mind had he been born 2,500 years later.
Jimny may not be a new name - it has been around since 1970 - but none of its predecessors have had quite the instant impact as the new generation model which arrived in January.
Demand has been huge, with all the first six months allocation sold ahead of time, and awards ranging from 4x4 of the year to a major ‘game changer' gong have followed.
That latter accolade is perhaps the most significant in that the Jimny is the only authentic off-roader that's small and lightweight yet has the all-terrain ability required by the purists.
And let's be clear, this is no young pretender of the 4x4 scene. It's a serious piece of kit that's designed for professionals and features the essentials for off-road driving - a ladder frame, three clearance angles, three-link rigid axle suspension and part-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) with low range transfer gear.
The Jimny may be small but it's tough as they come, taking conditions ranging from muddy racecourse car parks and grass tracks to boulders and river beds in its stride.
In everyday driving conditions comfort isn't compromised either as the Suzuki performs with composed manners and well damped sound insulation.
Beneath the bonnet is a 1.5-litre petrol engine - replacing the 1.3-litre unit of its predecessor - that has better pulling power than before and, with eight reduced by 15 per cent, improves fuel efficiency.
On that score we returned an average consumption figure of 38.2 miles per gallon, comfortably beating the official mark of 35.8mpg over 200 miles of mixed motoring.
With its baby Land Rover Defender style, the Jimny is also a masterpiece of design thanks to a strong, square body, flat clamshell bonnet, dipped window lines for optimum visibility and - on our tested SZ5 variant at least - 15-inch dark metallic alloy wheels.
It's big on safety too with the likes of dual sensor brake support, which issues both an audio and visual warning and either increases brake force or applies automatic emergency braking when necessary, as part of the standard package.
Buyers also get air-con, a CD tuner, Bluetooth, cruise control, foglamps, lane departure warning and a weave alert function while the higher spec of the two trim grades adds LED headlights, climate control, sat nav, heated front seats and privacy glass.
Six body colours are up for grabs including a stunning Kinetic Yellow designed exclusively for the Jimny and aimed at making the car stand out in bad weather. It costs an extra £650 but is worth it.
On the down side there's not a whole lot of space, something tall occupants may not endure up front but would definitely feel in the back where legroom is tight unless the front seats are slid well forward.
And while boot space is non-existent with four people aboard, things can be transformed by dropping the rear seats flat to create a half-decent 377-litre luggage area - one that's plastic-coated to protect against dirt.
There are also five hook points on each side under the quarter windows along with four luggage hooks around the floor area.
Suzuki haven't recorded an official 0-62mph time in their performance data - suffice to say it's not quick, though top speed is 90mph.
Suzuki Jimny 1.5 SZ5 Allgrip
Mechanical: 101ps, 1,462cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 90mph
Combined MPG: 35.8
Insurance Group: 9
C02 emissions: 154g/km
Bik rating: 34%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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