2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite review

Stripped-out, steel wheels and no infotainment in sight. The Jimny doesn’t care, and you shouldn’t either.

What we love
  • Still one of the most fun and unique cars that money can buy
  • Capable and thoroughly enjoyable off-road
  • Tiny footprint makes it a useful town car as well

What we don’t
  • Lacking in the safety department
  • De-contented interior is sparse on tech
  • Still a waiting list

Introduction

Technology is such an important factor in the modern-day car. New models are bristling with all manner of features and connectivity in an effort to overpower the competition. Maps, smartphone mirroring, apps, updates over the air, cameras… You name it.

And any new car that came out with a specs list that looked like a 1992 throwback would be akin to sales suicide. Any car, that is, except for the 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite.

Similar to the savings you’ll get going for a light beer over heavy, the Suzuki Jimny Lite carries a small but significant saving in dollars. Whereas a ‘normal’ Suzuki Jimny carries a retail price of $28,490 with the five-speed manual gearbox, this new Lite variant goes for $26,990 before on-road costs.

The Jimny Lite is missing an infotainment display, instead carrying a basic radio head unit with Bluetooth connectivity. Cheaper steel wheels replace the alloys, but they suit the Jimny wonderfully. Manual air-conditioning replaces climate control, halogen projector headlights replace the LEDs, and the side mirrors have a more basic plastic finish. Quite a bit of gear removed, then, for your $1500 savings.

However, this Jimny still manages to come with full-strength satisfaction.

Why, because the base Jimny still manages to shine through so impressively. We often talk about how the most basic variant of any car is the most challenging to get right, and I reckon the variant Lite shows the unique appeal of the Jimny’s new/old bones.

It’s still slow, still relatively unsafe, and cramped inside. And in this specification, it’s extremely basic. I’m half-surprised Suzuki didn’t go all-out with manual-winding windows.

However, the charm and appeal of the Jimny are still absolutely undeniable.

Key details 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite
Price (MSRP) $26,990
Colour of test car Superior White
Options None
Price as tested $26,990 (before on-road costs)
Rivals Land Rover Defender 90 | Jeep Wrangler

Inside

There’s not much to get through in this segment, because the Jimny Lite is both very small and very basic. The important fundamentals of your driving ergonomics are well catered for. I had no issues being comfortable behind the wheel for extended periods.

There’s a small slot above the glovebox for storing odds and ends, and an even smaller spot in front of the gearstick. The centre console is similarly sized (laughably small) to a 70 Series LandCruiser, but with a much nicer finish.

The area where an infotainment display used to be is still there, but only part of it is taken up by the simple radio. There are still some basic controls on the steering wheel, however, and you can fit two very small humans into the second row. Adults will fit, sure, but they will need a happy-go-lucky disposition. And maybe a crowbar.

The boot, only 85L in size, fits bugger-all inside. And it’s made smaller by a compartment bin that needs to be removed if you’re planning on fitting child seats into the back. Few will do this, I’m sure, but I managed to squeeze my two toddlers in quite happily. Actually, they loved the car. There’s something universal about a car that is fun and happy, and my kids seemed to fall in love with this little white box as quickly as I did.

2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite
Seats Four
Boot volume 85L seats up / 830L seats folded
Length 3480mm
Width 1645mm
Height 1720mm
Wheelbase 2250mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Ready to read the shortest infotainment and connectivity section ever to grace Drive.com.au? Even with that preamble, there’s nothing to get through here for the Jimny. The radio head unit is straight out of last decade, but at least has Bluetooth connectivity for playing tunes and talking on the phone. My old 2003 Range Rover didn’t have Bluetooth, so that’s something? Right?

For those buying a Jimny Lite and keen to upgrade, it looks like it should be a fairly straightforward process to install something from the aftermarket. Although, doing so would likely eat into a big portion of your Lite savings.


Safety and Technology

Unfortunately, the Suzuki Jimny is a little light on for safety equipment as well. It’s not all bad – stuff like autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning are included, along with six airbags inside.

However, it’s missing things like a reversing camera, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, speed sign recognition and lane-keep assist.

The 2018 ANCAP crash score is less than impressive as well. Three stars out of five can’t really be seen as a pass mark, and it sets the Jimny behind the benchmark of most other new cars.

2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite
ANCAP rating Three stars (tested 2018)
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

Value for Money

When compared with other four-wheel-drive short-wheelbase utes, the Suzuki Jimny can’t be seen as anything other than a bargain. It’s really cheap, and considering there are more moving parts underneath than most other small cars (an extra differential, three-link live axles front and rear, and a proper low-range transfer case), you could justify this Jimny as a bona-fide bargain.

The next cheapest four-wheel drive – a proper one with an actual four-wheel-drive system and low-range – would be an LDV T60 ($30,516), Ssangyong Musso ($33,990) or single-cab Mitsubishi Triton at $34,730 before on-road costs. They’ve all got more space and payload, sure, but none hold a candle to the Jimny for awesomeness.

Although it’s worth pointing out that the clear popularity and success of the car – and the big waiting list for a new one – have led to incremental price rises over the last two years.

Servicing the little Jimny comes in every 12 months or 15,000km, and is covered by a five-year, capped-price servicing program. After five years or 75,000km, you’re looking at $1655. This also comes with Suzuki’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre factory warranty.

Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp

Fuel Usage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.6L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.6L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 65L
At a glance 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite
Warranty Five years/unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1087 (3 years), $1655 (5 years)
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.4L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane petrol
Fuel tank size 40L

Driving

What’s the Suzuki Jimny Lite like to drive? Bloody fun. It’s a special kind of fun as well, and different to other enjoyable specimens like an MX-5 or Picanto GT. You don’t need to be going fast, but you still enjoy it thoroughly. If any new car could coerce me into giving up owning and driving crappy old cars for fun, it would be the Jimny.

One caveat here is that we’d recommend the five-speed manual gearbox over the four-speed automatic, and not only just for the additional engagement you get. The extra ratio makes a difference, and it seems to get the most out of that 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol donk.

The Jimny’s tiny footprint also yields great town suitability. No reversing camera sucks, but a twist of the neck shows you plenty about your surroundings, and the small boxy shape leaves little to your imagination. The turning circle is tiny at 9.6m, allowing it to slip into small parking spots and tight U-turns without a sweat.

Its 75kW and 130Nm aren’t much, sure, but it’s only pushing 1075kg and the gearing is quite short. So while it’s no doubt slow, it doesn’t feel like it.

Another caveat here is highway driving. Like most other old-school four-wheel drives with less aerodynamics than a slab of beer and low gearing, the Jimny can feel like hard work as it hums away at high revs. Partly it’s enjoyable, but you’ll likely get a bit tired of it.

Off-road, it couldn’t be more different of a story. Line up against any manner of rough, technical and sloppy terrain off-road, and you’ll probably come away mightily impressed with the little Zook. The low weight has a lot to do with it, and surprisingly good clearance with wheels pushed to each corner.

The ‘AllGrip’ four-wheel-drive system is a traditional part-time set-up, with rear-driven wheels turning into four with a shift of that stubby lever. Yank it again and you’ll find low-range. It doesn’t feel like a big reduction in low, mostly because the engine is so rev-happy.

But with a little bit of wheel spin, the off-road traction control beavering away in the background through a steady right foot, you can drive some hard challenges in this Jimny with just the right amount of fanfare. It’s fun. It’s engaging. It’s happy. It wants to do it again and again. Adding better tyres and some improvements to the suspension would no doubt help, but I’d implore you to find the limits of the Jimny in its standard form first before modifying because it’s quite the off-road pocket rocket.

Key details 2022 Suzuki Jimny Lite
Engine 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 75kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 130Nm @ 4000rpm
Drive type Part-time four-wheel drive
Transmission Five-speed manual
Power to weight ratio 69.8kW/t
Weight 1075kg
Tow rating 1300kg braked, 350kg unbraked
Turning circle 9.6m

Conclusion

I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of buying a Suzuki Jimny. Cars are important business, and the more pragmatic amongst us could easily find good reasons to look at something else. It’s small, cramped, impractical, buzzy on the highways, and not as safe as others out there.

But cars can also be fun; a positive force of emotional mirth. The Jimny reminds of this, perhaps more than any other car on the market today. Suzuki’s catchphrase ‘For Fun’s Sake’ is a little pithy, but it’s on the money.

If you’re going to buy a car in the same way you once bought a fax machine, then the Jimny might not be for you. But on the other hand, if you’ve got your eye on Suzuki’s pint-sized off-roader, I doubt anything else could fill that small, boxy void.

This Jimny Lite doesn’t seem like the smart buy in the range. I’d personally prefer to spend the extra money to get in the full-fat Jimny. However, waiting lists for the Jimny Lite aren’t as long, so it might be a necessary evil for some buyers.

And even without the extra bits, the Jimny Lite is still an endearing and happy little car. One that you’re happy to gloss over its shortcomings just in order to enjoy its wonderful company.

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