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LITTLE 'SOOT, BIG HEART It's a 4x4, a runabout - and a lot of fun, writes Willem van de Putte


O, YOU want to dip your feet into the world of 4x4s but don't want to spend your monthly salary on repayments, and even though you like the off­road thing, a carbon footprint the size of Texas is going to get the greenies in a froth. On the showroom floor it looks like Noddy's car and the space inside isn't enough to fit Big Ears or Mr Plod. But while you per­ haps ponder another purchase, the little Suzuki Jimny will keep calling you back for another look. When it does, look carefully, because despite its size, it has the heart of a beast and the willingness of a first­time lover. While you're on your kr. dngatthe undercarriage, the fust ihii II iuuceis the solid front axle. But hang on, you've just seen the same on a Cruiser and a Defender ­ serious off­road equipment. . . And with that knowledge, coupled to the legendary ability of the old Suzuki SJ 410 and SJ 413, you're likely to be swayed into getting behind the wheel of this alternative Japanese 4x4. Beware though, you won't break any speed records. The I300cc 16­valve DOHC mo­ tor is more than willing, but starts to wheeze somewhat as you head towards the speed limit in the rarefied Gauteng atmosphere. However, I doubt seriously that the target market is for boy racers, posers or top­end executives. Mind you, with our ministers jus­ tifying the purchase of Hi million 4x4s by saying they need to get to their constituents in far­flung, desolate areas (is that an admis­ sion about the shocking state of our roads, I wonder?), the Jimny would do just as good a job of getting their overpaid bodies there. In fact, had they been around to see some of their constituents of the 4x4community. playing at Chloorkop near Kempton

UPWARDLY MOBILE: The Jimny shows a willingness to keep up with the big boys.

Park recently, the little "sooz" could just have saved the State's car purchase bill a good few million. As far as roads go, well, there aren't any ­ there's the odd track blocked by boulders, mud, sand and deep dongas. Just what the fun police ordered for some serious 4x4 playing. Dwarfed by Defenders. P atrols. Pajeros, hard­bodies. Jeeps and a Discovery 3, the Jimny looked like a spotty teen with attitude at a Mr Muscle championship Having done the course a number of times in my Defender 90, I was used to the shortwheel base and the sharp turning angles, but for a first­ timer this will take some getting used to. It doesn't have diff lock, but four­ wheel drive high and low range is engaged by the push of a button. It feels odd, gunning a 1300cc "proper" 4x4 through water, over rocks and steep inclines behind much bigger and more expensive ve­ hicles, but once you get the hang of it. it's a lot of fun. Okay, you also have to know its limitations and keep in mind that it's shod with standard road tyres. A change of rubber to all terrains will greatly enhance it. but ground clearance over certain obstacles will always be a challenge (and so too, I suspect, the middelmannetjies on the sand roads of Namibia and Mozam­ bique). Over time and with a less­ than­careful attitude, the front bumper is going to take a hammer­ ing, as is the undercarriage. The most intriguing thing 1 found was the ease of recovery. No heavy snatch straps, winches or big recov­ ery vehicles. Simply attach the tow strap get four guys to give it a tug and out she pops. However, the Jimny is not a hard­ core ofT­road vehicle and to expect it to be one is unfair. As a runabout for the two of you and perhaps one toddler, with an option to have some fun when the going gets tough, it's fantastic The build quality as with all its stablemates. is outstanding, the Page 1 /1 S ize=4Q0X283mm Circulation 120462 F#»fcictof0»gw¥tea thud rather than a metallic ding. The dash has all the necessary dials but the lighting does I, I

FACE HRST: Gunning the little Jimny through water or over rocks feeh odd.

DECEPTIVE: Like its stablemates, the Suzuki Jimn/s build quality is outstanding.

seem to be very low. They could have given it some more nooks and crannies to store loose bits and my knee kept bashing against the electric window box. but then I'm not the smallest guy on the block. Oh yes. the Jimny also recently won the Women's Car of the Year Award (4xFabs cat­ egory). Is it a girls' car then? Yes and no. , ■ ' . t


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It will take her to where she wants to go with panache while the guys will be champ ing at the bit to show the manne that looking macho in a mega 4x4 doesn't make you king of the hill. And a politicians car? Not in this country. The Jimny isn't big enough for their egos nor. I suspect, for their Rirths