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The smallest off-roader wants to go big

There are many off-road icons out there like the Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse, Willis Jeep, and of course the Suzuki Jimny. We can be glad that we have the fourth generation of the small Japanese offroader in the first place. In Switzerland (and most places in Europe) due to emission regulations, we only get the commercial vehicle variant of the Jimny. This means that there are some large changes compared to the normal Jimny. So, welcome to our first review of a commercial vehicle: the Suzuki Jimny Country.

First off, the Suzuki Jimny is an ultra utilitarian and small offroad vehicle that has existed since the 1970s. The commercial vehicle variant is even more spartan than the already minimalist Jimny. For example, the Jimny Country gets no back seats, instead, there is a cage right behind the front passengers, so there's lots of room. The downside is that the front seats have to sit very upright due to the cage. In the front, there are very few luxuries: no infotainment, no adaptive cruise control, cloth seats, no armrest, and no other electronic helpers in any way or form. It's rather obvious that a commercial vehicle has little to no luxuries as standard, but it's possible to have a few. Gladly, the Jimny Country does get heated seats, cruise control, and Bluetooth connectivity. Since the commercial vehicle variant is the only Jimny available right now, Suzuki has tried to incorporate as many options as possible.

Since this is an offroad vehicle, what features make the Jimny so good off-road? The Jimny sits on an old-school ladder-frame chassis like old LandRovers and every other Jimny since. This makes wheel articulation and the overall stiffness of the chassis very good for off-road. For everyday use, the Jimny can be driven in 2WD mode. But there is also a permanent 4WD and 4WD-low mode. The low-range gearbox can be selected via a lever behind the gear knob. For those unaware, the low-range gearbox is supposed to aid in low-traction situations. These features come as standard and the Jimny Country is only available with a dreary five-speed gearbox. While the Jimny is a hardcore off-roader, you might want to take it on the motorway once in a while: spoiler alert, it's dreadful. The lack of a sixth gear is the Jimny's main flaw on the motorway. This is also the reason the normal Jimny is not available because it produces so many carbon dioxides. In top gear, the engine is revving so high, that it is truly appalling. The fact that the Jimny is a driving letterbox doesn't help. It's not all negative for daily use though, the Jimny is very easy to drive otherwise. Since the Jimny is so small, maneuvering through towns is a piece of cake.

But, how is the Jimny in its intended territory? Even if the Jimy is a little bit old-school, the way it can conquer off-road situations is even more old-school. The good old-fashioned ladder-frame chassis with a low-range gearbox make the Jimny a beast off-road. Also, it roughly weighs 1100 kg which is phenomenal for a car that has a heavy steel chassis under its body frame. The obvious things that help make the Jimny so maneuverable are the high ground clearance, solid-beam axles, and low body weight. Compared to new LandRovers and other off-road vehicles, the Jimny has few electronic aids and off-road settings. It does have hill-descent control and an electronic lockable differential. Other than that, there are no gimmicks. Despite the lack thereof, the Jimny is great off-road, as intended! We mainly drove the Jimny in deep snow and the only thing letting it down were the thin tires. Equip this thing with some purpose-built off-road tires and it'll be a breeze in the snow. Luckily, the traction control can be switched off entirely. We found it very tricky to drive in deep snow and we indeed got stuck quite a few times. Sadly we were unable to test on another terrain due to the snow. Since the Jimny is powered by a tiny 1.5l N/A four-cylinder engine there isn't much low-down torque to pull you out of tricky situations. You have to rely on the low-range gearbox to save you.

The Jimny's design is timeless, but so is its approach to offroading: everything is very old-school. But since it also has no rear competitors, the Jimny is dominating the segment. Would we have one? Not sure, the Jimny is still a very niche product and you don't see them very often. For daily use, it isn't ideal. But some people do require a car capable enough for rough terrain and snow. We are still grateful that we even get a Jimny in 2021.


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