You’re forgiven for not knowing exactly what the Suzuki Jimny is—or for calling it the “Jimmy,” which was a GMC SUV in the ’90s. The little 4×4 isn’t sold here in the U.S., which is really too bad because it’s the small, affordable, elemental SUV that’s been missing from American dealerships since Jeep’s Wrangler went huge, Hyundai and Kia grew up and started building crossovers, and Suzuki left the U.S. market entirely. With off-roaders roaring back, however, it’s worth taking a few moments to drool over the Jimny.
The Suzuki’s spec sheet describes a delightfully sparse yet rugged little vehicle. You can have your Jimny any way you want as long as it’s with two doors, a fixed roof, and four-wheel drive with low-range gearing. A 101-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder can be paired with either a four-speed automatic (throwback!) or a proper five-speed manual. You can probably guess which transmission does a better job extracting maximum performance, if that’s the right word, from that tiny engine. Just like a Wrangler, the Suzuki rides on coil-sprung solid axles front and rear. Dripping wet, a fully optioned Jimny weighs about 2500 pounds (the lightest version tips the scales, barely, at 2400 pounds). And from its snub nose to its externally mounted spare tire in back, it measures just under 12 feet long.
In today’s world, where vehicles increasingly isolate drivers and passengers from the road and the surrounding world, the starkly elemental Jimny is a throwback in modern clothing. The Interior is simple, though, yes, it offers a touchscreen, and the exterior is highlighted by big round headlights, bumpers, and lots of flat sheetmetal. (In fact, if its styling looks a little familiar, it’s because the second-generation Jimny from the ’80s was sold here as the Samurai.) It’s so right, we previously wrote a pleading story for Ford, begging it to take notes from the Jimny for its upcoming Bronco and Bronco Sport SUVs. From what we know about the bigger Ford Bronco, it likely towers over the spindly Suzuki. But we can all hope the smaller, lighter Bronco Sport takes a few cues from the Jimny, can’t we? Just look for yourself in the gallery below: