Oh yes, the Suzuki Jimny III. A lot of people were probably expecting a slightly altered review of the Suzuki Jimny III and that’s because the Suzuki Jimny is an almost car.
Yes, almost car. The Suzuki Jimny didn’t start out as a normal car but as a kei car.
Kei car is essentially what we in Europe call a microcar. The thing is that in Japan there is not much room for too many cars, so Japan thought of forcing the population to drive micro cars or kei cars. And the Suzuki Jimny started and is still a 4×4 kei car. The law in Japan says that a car must be less than 3400 mm long, 1480 mm wide, and 2000 mm high and not have an engine larger than 660 cmc, at least these are the standards imposed from 1998 until now.
So the Suzuki Jimny III has the original dimensions of 3395 mm long, 1475 mm wide, 1680 mm high, and a 658 cc engine. And just like that, they fit the dimensions and were able to market the Jimny in Japan. Except that the expansion of the little Samurai didn’t end at the borders of Japan. Oh no. The Japanese added a few more inches to its length and width, bought European engines, and brought it here. And America. And Asia. And New Zealand. And here in Europe, it was assembled in Spain, at least the tarpaulin version.
Why is the Suzuki Jimny so sought after and so capable off-road?
It’s almost as well equipped as Paige Spinarac and/or Scarlett Johanson. Even though it’s as long as a rattan seat, the Suzuki Jimny comes with a low range gearbox, part time 4WD, vacuum-locking hubs, ladder-type chassis and many other toys. This allows the Suzuki Jimny III to take on the big boys like the Mercedes ML, Ssangyong Rexton, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Pajero, and the rest of the off-road monsters.
It’s much more agile than the other behemoths I mentioned earlier. And because it has the wheelbase the size of an baking tray, it makes the Jimny much more agile and able to reach places other monsters only dream of. In fact, a Suzuki Samurai (or Suzuki Jimny II) holds the world record for the highest altitude reached by a car at 6688 metres.
Suzuki Jimny III Engines
- 658 cc K6A JB23 of 50 horsepower – This was the brunt of the Japan sales as it was pretty much exclusive there. It’s surely an evolution of the previous F6A engine as it’s now chain driven and all around reliable, sturdy little engine. If you can find one and if you want to limit your life to 50 horsepower.
- 1.3 G13BB 80 and M13A of 85 horsepower – We’re talking two engines from two different generations. The 85 version is the one you want, the famous M13A as it’s an evolution of the G13BB. Actually, forget about that one too. A popular operation on the Suzuki Jimny III is to ditch the 1.3 engine and fit the 1.5 M15A engine from the Swift or 1.6 M16A from the Suzuki SX4. They’re literally plug & play. And if you’re Australian, you can take it to the next level and fit the monstrous 123bhp 1.8 M18A. Although you’ll probably be alright with the 120 horsepower 1.6. Apart from oil consumption later in life, all these engines are sturdy and reliable.
1.5 DDiS K9K of 86 horsepower – The legendary Renault-sourced K9K 1.5 dCi is also working under the bonnet of the Suzuki Jimny III. Made a name for itself in Europe due to its excellent performance under the bonnet of pretty much every Renault and Nissan that existed in Europe, I really have nothing to say about this engine. Yes, there were issues with the Delphi injectors for the under 90 horsepower versions, but they have probably been replaced already. Or if they break down, you buy some Dacia Logan injectors for 10 pounds a piece from the local breakers. Or was it 10 pounds for the whole set?
Suzuki Jimny III Common Issues
- The Suzuki Jimny III was heavily used as a off-road car so I sincerely recommend you look at the 4×4 system and check every nook and cranny. All the buttons, knobs, check the low range gearbox, check the car underneath for damage, check if the driveshift is straight or if it exists at all, and so on.
- The suspension is incredibly bad for tarmac but excellent for off-road. This is an old-fashioned 4×4 car where we don’t care about suspension for tarmac or minimum comfort for people.
- Then comes the Suzuki Jimny III’s main issue, which is that I don’t know what it’s better at: off-roading or gathering rust. In fact, I think the Suzuki Jimny is at the top of the list of cars that rust very fast.
- Those big windows offer great visibility which is great, but it also gives more space to fry yourself in from the sun. So the Jimny comes standard with air conditioning, but as soon as it breaks down you should replace it as it’s more dependent on air conditioning than I am of Temptation Island.
Suzuki Jimny III Verdict
It’s a relatively cheap, reliable, and capable off-road microcar that’s also capable of getting you from home to work and back. And I say relatively cheap because it depends on the perspective with which you analyze the car. If you analyze it as a mini city SUV, yes, it’s very expensive. There are many much better and cheaper cars that can do that. But if you look at it from an off-roader’s perspective and know what a low range gearbox and ladder chassis are, then this car is a pure bargain. And on that bombshell, good night.
What engines do you recommend? You’ll laugh at me probably, but for petrol power I recommend a 1.6 M16A transplant from the SX4 because it’s plug & play. And for diesel, the familiar 1.5 dCi K9K needs no introduction.