There is no turbocharger, no torquey diesel or a hybrid powertrain assist. Yet, for a car with a boxy shape, sub-compact dimensions and a focus on basic functionality that has endured four generations of vehicles spanning half a century, the Suzuki Jimny can end up punching way above its bantamweight category to give pedigreed off-roaders a run for their money, the Mercedes G-Wagon and the Jeep Wrangler included.
So, with a right-hand drive, heavily-camouflaged Jimny test mule spotted over the last week on the Gurgaon-West Delhi roads ahead of its 2023 launch, enthusiasts are more than excited. A longer 5-door spec of the budget off-roader is the one headed to India, a full three years after the original 3-door version was unveiled at the 2020 edition of the Delhi Auto Expo. While the 3-door version is currently manufactured by Suzuki in India, it is aimed at only the export markets. The official India debut will be made by the more practical, 5-door version that continues to be based on a rugged steel ladder frame chassis, with its new stiffer construction supporting rigid front and rear axles with separate differentials, but with an extended wheelbase to accommodate the added length.
First released by the Hamamatsu-based Japanese ‘kei’ car specialist in 1970, the Jimny has sold nearly 3 million units in over 190 countries, and continues to rake in sales volumes across markets with its fourth-generation model.
The off-roader, equipped with Suzuki’s AllGrip 4-wheel-drive tech, may be barebone basic, while combining the engineered mechanics of the sub-compact car’s chassis with the practicality of an daily-use urban car, with the result that it’s equally trusted by speedcar pros rallying in the Dakar rally as it is by deliverymen ferrying cargo in London’s tightest alleyways or Japan Post workers delivering mail on the snow-clad twisties of Hokkaido’s northernmost prefectures.
India has had a tryst with the longer wheelbase version of the second generation Jimny, which Maruti Suzuki called the Gypsy here. In terms of dimensions, the 5-door version of the fourth-generation Jimny headed here will be around 3,850 mm in length (nearly the length of the Suzuki Swift and a tad shorter than the new Brezza).
It will be 1,645 mm in width and 1,730 mm in height (same as the 3-door version), but is likely to have a wheelbase of 2,550 mm (an increase of 300mm over the stock 3-door variant). Ground clearance of the 5-door version is likely to be 210 mm, again the same as the 3-door version, though the breakover angle is likely to change on account of the increased length. The 3-door version is claimed to have an approach angle up front of 37 degrees, the breakover angle in the middle of 28 degrees and a departure angle at the back of 49 degrees, numbers that are actually better than the comparative figures for a Jeep Wrangler.
Under the hood, Maruti Suzuki is likely to replace the K15B 1.5-litre petrol engine doing duties in the 3-door version with the new K15C DualJet naturally-aspirated engine for the new Jimny here, mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed torque convertor automatic gearbox. Suzuki’s mild-hybrid tech that is featured on the new Brezza, as well as the Neodrive versions of the new Toyota Hyryder and the mild-hybrid models of the Grand Vitara, is likely to be on offer. The Jimny is also set to be equipped with the Suzuki AllGrip drive system.
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The SUV may not have a direct competitor in India, but it will face-off with the bigger Mahindra Thar (which is gearing up with a 5-door version) and the Force Gurkha utility vehicles. The 5-door will decidedly upgrade the Jimny from being a recreational off-road option into a practical, family car. While Maruti Suzuki is likely to pitch the new 5-door Jimny as a family car that can go off-road as well, there are two major concerns: the ride quality, where the second-gen Gypsy did not inspire much confidence; and the lack of bells and whistles that are pretty much standard on other vehicles in the price range that the Jimny will be positioned in.
There is speculation that the Jimny’s prices could overlap with higher variants of the Brezza (no excise benefits despite its under-4 metre length, though, as the engine is bigger than the mandated 1.2 litre petrol).
There is a chance that Suzuki could badge the 5-door Jimny as the Gypsy or, in keeping with the Grand Vitara tradition, the Grand Gypsy, but nothing officially from Maruti Suzuki yet. The Jimny 5-door will be a global model and is likely expected to make its India debut at the Delhi Auto Expo 2023 in January.