Review: Suzuki 5-Door Jimny a quirky off-roader with extra length, doors, space and tech

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny
With two more doors, an extra 340mm rung in its ladder frame, bigger infotainment screen and more driver safety aids, you could say that the 5-Door Jimny is quite literally opening more doors. Photo credit: Tarmac Life

By Dave McLeod of Tarmac Life

With its compact size, ladder frame and 'go anywhere' attitude, the Suzuki Jimny has been a symbol of freedom since the 1970s.

However, being restricted to three doors, and having a tiny boot space has limited the model's audience - that is until now.

With two more doors, an extra 340mm rung in its ladder frame, bigger infotainment screen and more driver safety aids, you could say that the 5-Door Jimny is quite literally opening more doors - so we headed to Queenstown to find out more.

From the urban chic to the dedicated off-roader (and even the grey nomads too), nothing seems to capture the imagination of the road-going public quite like the Suzuki Jimny. In fact, there have been well over three million Jimny's sold worldwide since the launch of this iconic model in 1970, so 'popular' goes without saying.

Despite its evident demand, Suzuki has upped the ante with each of its four generations while remaining true to its core, lightweight, small-footprint concept. However, the brand is taking the 'next step' with this current model and putting its best foot forward by adding an extra foot to its size (340mm to be exact).

Now 340mm may not sound a lot, but when it comes to the Jimny, what Suzuki has done with it is impressive to say the least. Not only have they managed to give the tiny off-roader two more doors (making it easier to get in and out of the rear), but also seemingly given it more legroom in the back plus 367mm more luggage space (85L in the three-door - 211L in the five-door). Talk about a great return.

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny
Photo credit: Tarmac Life

The improvements don't stop there. The five-slat grille has been given chrome bling, making it easy to spot in a crowd, and the infotainment screen is now nine inches (straight out of the S-Cross) and comes with greater tech.

There's wireless Apple and wired Android, a reversing camera, dual camera brake support (EBS), Lane Departure Alert, Sway Alert, hill hold and descent control, parking sensors, better suspension, 1300kg braked towing capacity, and should you opt for the Auto model (yes, there is still a five-speed manual), you even get adaptive cruise control.

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny interior
Photo credit: Tarmac Life

Although the upgrades to the 5-Door Jimny are aplenty, most of the rest remains the same. The approach and departure angles are great as always (36 and 47 degrees respectively) and the ground clearance is 210mm; however, the ramp brake-over angle is now 24 degrees. It still comes with Suzuki's ALLGRIP Pro AWD system, and it's still powered by a very tried and trusted 1462cc, four-cylinder (75kW/130Nm) engine, married to your choice of a four-speed auto or five-speed manual. It's just a little heavier now, gaining 190kgs.

With the technical jargon out of the way, it was time to take the new Jimny for a drive. To help showcase the improvements, Suzuki NZ had us on a drive route from the Hilton Queenstown and all the way along the dusty and unsealed road that is Skippers Canyon.

With seven colour options on offer, I went straight for the new hero hue: sizzling red. It's a bit of a standout, particularly when the sun is beating down. What's more, my model came with the manual gearbox.

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny
Photo credit: Tarmac Life

The ride from the hotel to the foot of the hill was non-descript, with ample amounts of traffic and speeds fairly slow. However, it did give me a chance to duck into the infotainment screen (and the nibbles bag), plus get better acquainted with the gears.

With its bigger footprint, the 5-Door Jimny feels more substantial on the road, but only a bit. Oddly, it's the same narrow width (just longer), but somehow there seems to be more shoulder room between the two front passengers - strange.

The line of new Jimnys (in different colour combos) looked great, but as we climbed the steepish hill to the start of Canyon Road, the ability for my manual to drop down a few gears (keeping the revs over 4000 and retaining full torque), meant I was able to pull away from the auto variant - or maybe my colleagues were testing out the adaptive cruise.

Skippers Road lookout gave us our first quick photo op and from there it was a driver change and switching things up to 4H, before hitting the more adventurous trail - next stop, Skippers Canyon Jet.

The narrow, winding and at times very rutted trail offered very little resistance to the off-road-ready Jimny; in fact, the longer wheelbase and uprated suspension just seemed to add to the smoothness of the ride, meaning none of the tasty treats were lost in the larger-sized rear.

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny
Photo credit: Tarmac Life

With our second photo op covered, we swapped drivers and vehicles, which meant I found myself behind the wheel of the auto for the climb up to the campground.

I am a big advocate for manual gearboxes but I have to say the four-speed auto Jimny took the arguably more taxing next stage with ease. The auto took care of the gears, the ALLGRIP took care of the terrain, and all I had to do was steer and brake a little - I was literally just along for the ride and able to admire the epic scenery.

The route back along Canyon Road was more of the same breathtaking landscape being tackled by a vehicle that looks equally at home climbing mall ramps. We stayed in the same Jimny all the way back to the Canyon Brewing Company for a late lunch, before testing its improved driver and safety aids through the township.

Suzuki 5-Door Jimny
Photo credit: Tarmac Life

Apparently, the new 5-Door Jimny is not letting ANCAP get its grubby mitts on the larger all-roader (the three-door has a three-star rating for reference), but fear not; there are numerous airbags, the chassis comes with 590MPa grade steel, the cameras keep an eye out for cars and pedestrians, it alerts you should you venture towards the white lines or sway too much, and the adaptive cruise control can be set to your distance preference.

The Suzuki Jimny has been a success story that has spanned more or less five decades. It's a quirky off-roader that punches well above its weight in terms of looks and personality and now, with an extra 340mm, it's even more versatile.

The five doors make for better access and the increased luggage area means you can now carry more than an overnight bag, plus the tech is the best it's ever been - you just need to decide which transmission you want.

Tarmac Life