Maruti Suzuki Jimny driven off-roads in Dehradun
The Jimny moniker has been around since 1970. We Indians found the taste of the Jimny in a relatively nifty named product, Gypsy, since the 80s. The Gypsy was so popular the Indian defence ministry adopted it for their missions. Maruti brings the 4th generation 5-door Jimny to India after years of market research and time. This one is a thoroughbred ladder frame 4×4, famous for its power-to-weight ratio and, in dimensions, a more approachable form factor than the behemoth SUVs of our current era. Like the Thar, this one has an appeal with the boxy measurements and actual functionality backing that style. How good is the Jimny when it comes to driving capabilities? Let’s check it out as we put the Jimny through its natural habitat in Dehradun.
Jimny is the global name of this product in India; it reminds us of a famous Indian cinema song. It is also offered in the Zeta variant with the same engine but different colours and some missing features compared to the Alpha version we drove. The stance of this vehicle is not at all intimidating like most 4×4 vehicles. The squared-off proportions include clever engineering and more than ample 2590mm of wheelbase despite being a sub-4-meter SUV. This is a retro-modern design, which is the era’s flavour.
The Gypsy was loved for its design and appeal of being something more than other cars during its era. In Kalyuga, Jimny has competition in both the style and functionality expected from a practical lifestyle car. Surprisingly, the Jimny brings compact SUV proportions with similar body-to-weight ratios as the competition. The Jimny is an attention grabber on roads. While there are behemoth SUVs and off-roaders with dimensions rivaling a small truck, the Jimny feels like a very accommodating stance, welcoming all kinds of people to experience a durable and easy-to-live 4×4 vehicle in India, where roads exist on Google Maps but not in reality. Suzuki Allgrip Pro drives the AWD 3-Link suspension configuration of this relatively lightweight compact SUV just shy of 1.2 tonnes, that’s almost 550 kgs less than a Thar.
Jimny proportions stand at 1720mm height, 1645mm width and 3985mm width, including the alloy spare tyre. Despite the overall stance seeming lower and longer than most thoroughbred rectangle designs, the wheelbase at 2590mm is healthy with 208L boot space, more with a split seat configuration on the rear. The ground clearance at 210mm brings excellent climb, depart angles and water bedding capabilities. There are 3 request sensors on the front two doors and the rear door with the mounted spare wheel. Opening the hatch anticlockwise is easy with the hydraulic strut. The front fascia on the Alpha version in this variant-specific kinetic yellow (neon green) looks stunning in a blend of retro meets modern design. The round LED lights are complimented with a chrome-splashed grill and chunky bumpers, including headlight washers.
A perfect blend of functionality and practicality
If you’ve experienced the Maruti Gypsy, the interiors of the new-age Jimny are familiarly retro yet modern. The instrument cluster pays homage to iconic Gypsy with similar analogue meters and amber backlights. Squeezed between the two analogue meters is a grayscale display with ample 2D animations of doors opening, seat belts, drive information and more to claim its modernity. The MID is clad with multiple indication lights camouflaged inside the analogue and digital presentation. At the centre is a 9-inch infotainment system with media controls in capacitive touch and wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. The HVAC controls with auto climate control are displayed in neat amber backlit digital display controlled through good quality rotary knobs. The console also features front window controls and hill-descend controls in tactile switches breaking the monotony with style.
The seats are strictly limited to four but have excellent cushioning and are one of the best seats in Maruti India’s arsenal. One naturally seats high, and there are no electric adjustments. The weirdest part is the space limitation, as all passengers share two bottle holders between the front seats. There are ample handles to hold on to, and rear doors have individual electric window controls, which may be limited to the Alpha variants. The interior is all black, and the amber backlight adds a sense of sportiness to the package. The muti-tone and textures bring sturdy appeal yet accommodating space for all kinds of adventure. Unlike other thoroughbreds, the ingress and egress angles are more leisurely, and there’s sufficient knee room with excellent headroom. Interiors could have been practical with door storage units accommodating nothing more than your phone and wallets, but this purpose-built vehicle also sprinkles modern-day creature comforts. The round and rectangular AC vents have a quality feel, while the interior space is illuminated with those large rectangle windows on all doors.
On-road or off-road?
The Jimny’s K15 B series 1.5L naturally aspirated engine produces 103 bhp with 132 Nm of torque from as low as 4K rpm. It is offered with a 5-speed MT or 4-speed AT. 2H, 4H and 4L gearbox settings with hill descend, O/D controls, and a brake-assisted LSD helps this lightweight car gain traction to wheels that need it most. We drove the 4-Speed AT, and while this retro engine and gearbox combination might feel unusable on paper in the modern era, this is an excellent combination off-road. The high-profile wheels are clad with Bridgestone Dueler dual-purpose tyres sizes 195/80 R15, and the 15-inch alloys or steel rims suit the Jimny.
What’s unexpected is the steering heft, almost similar to the Thar and a short turning radius, an irony considering the sizable dimensions. This steering requires some energy to operate, especially on normal tarmacs of the twisties, but the excellent chassis does a good job managing the body roll and body control. The Jimny glides over any road-undulating terrain on normal roads, and the NVH levels are top-notch. The AT gearbox does not like being revved hard and will take its sweet time to downshift and overtake on a sudden throttle response. The exciting part is that the Jimny linearly produces power despite the conditions. The Maruti K15 B series engine is a mighty performer considering it produces limited power on paper. Still, the gearing of the Jimny makes this car absolutely capable when off-roads. It is light and more fun in MT, but the clutch action is again like most of its rivals, and gearshifts in MT could have been sleeker. The AT holds on the revs almost till its red line when the throttle is pinned to the metal and somehow performs like a small diesel engine in its behaviour.
There is a fish-eye effect with static lines on the rear-view camera, and the placement of sensors with a camera is questionable, but it exists. Apart from the differential settings and locks, there are three drive modes, regular D engages all gears (O/D on-off), D2 allows only 1st and 2nd gear and L mode engages only the 1st gear for extreme conditions. The Jimny also features hill-hold and hill-descent (fixed to 5km/h). The overall chassis, suspensions and wheels bring a comfortable drive to the Jimny, surpassing the expectations of pliant ride quality from a rugged vehicle. The Jimny might feel a bit slow on the tarmac, and the steering does require some hand gymnastics while taking sharp or U-turns, but when the roads end, and trails start, the Jimny suddenly changes into a whole different beast.
The Jimny with Suzuki Allgrip Pro 4×4 drive system and the cleverly engineered suspension setup work wonders with the ladder frame chassis. The stance, electric and mechanical prowess of Maruti Suzuki engineering helps this vehicle simply glide through the roughest terrains and tackle everything nature offers with the utmost composure. It almost rivals the ride quality of twice/thrice-the-price vehicles on off-road trails, climbs and action. The compact nature helps change directions through tight corners, while climbs are a piece of cake with light throttle inputs, mimicking a diesel engine. The hill-hold/descent functions allow maximum control without brake inputs, even at extreme angles. 3-link Rigid axle type with coil spring is a gem mainly off-road with a 50-degree departure angle, 36-degree approach angle and 24-degree ramp break-over angle. This vehicle is in its natural habitat when roads stop existing. We could carry insane speeds, and the only thing skidding us through the trails were the Bridgestone tyres, but a proper pair of off-road tyres would have our back. Nonetheless, the front disc and rear drum configuration is one of Maruti’s best, allowing immense control.
Verdict – Gem of an off-road machine
The Jimny stands true to the moniker and the years of legacy of the Maruti Gypsy in India. There are barely a few cars that click all the right boxes for their form factors. The Maruti Suzuki Jimny is a stunning off-roader with a fashionable retro-modern design grabbing all the right and wrong curiosity on Indian roads. It may perform sufficiently on roads; it simply shines in nature’s abode. The Jimny is a perfect blend of functionality, practicality and generational design conventionality.
1462cc NA K15 B-series 16V engine
5-Speed MT & 4-Speed AT
103BHP & 132NM
Wheelbase – 2590mm
3-link Rigid axle type suspensions with coil spring
Suzuki Allgrip Pro 4×4 system