This is some text inside of a div block.

Taking the new Suzuki Jimny 5-door out of its comfort zone

The adventure mobile has begun its journey across the country, and after 1,100 km, here's how it's holding up.

Jordan Schmidt
December 11, 2023
No items found.

Taking the new Suzuki Jimny 5-door out of its comfort zone


The Jimny is an iconic little 4x4 that sits on the bucket list of many adventure enthusiasts. I have had a lot of experience in the 3-door Jimny, so I didn't doubt the 5-door's competency on tar. But, as a holiday adventure car, it first needs to tackle the infinitely long and straight N1.


Our journey began at 4 a.m. in Jozi. Waking up to the thought of the thrilling road trip ahead fueled our sleepy eyes, with the little voice in the back of my head reminding me of my past experience with the Jimny on the highway. Knowing that this boxy little SUV with a potent character would have a hard day ahead, we bounced onto the N1, and the adventure began.


To our surprise, the kilometres just ticked away. Despite the lack of power for overtaking, less-than-ideal aerodynamics, and lack of a 6th gear, the drive was surprisingly more pleasant than expected. As we drove past Bloem and encountered truck after truck, I scratched my head in disbelief. In spite of the poor steering and 4,000r/min at 120km/h, I was enjoying the ride so much, even though it was basic in comparison to the many SUVs available on the market. I soon realised, though, that the Jimny is much more than just a modern 4x4. It’s an SUV with character. It shares a similar spirit to the classics, where the imperfections are chalked down as character or quirks, which is why you can't help but love it.


The road-tripping element was intimate as I learned to understand the limitations of the Jimny. I found myself giggling at the fact that the car redlines when you overtake a truck and that the approaching uphill was going to be a challenge. Although there was nothing I could do about it, my partner and I love that this imperfect car produced a personality out of its shortfalls.


After what felt like only an hour or two, the six-hour drive to Gariep had passed, and my favourite shortcut was ahead. Taking the Gariep off-ramp, the excitement of being halfway brought a second wind. Up next, a three-hour trek along the scenic and quiet R701, R58, and R390 to Steynsburg. A quiet little town that marvelled at the sight of the little, but somewhat bigger, bright green Jimny.


Through Steynsburg, we went down the R56, turning left onto the R390. It is here where I find the scenery to be quite spectacular, despite the overwhelming number of tyre-shredding potholes. It's also here, between Steynsburg and Hofmeyr, where we couldn’t miss the opportunity for a photoshoot, and might I say the Jimny looks to be in its element, especially with this backdrop.


Unfortunately, our progress was halted shortly after Hofmeyr, as five stop-and-go construction sites considerably slowed our progress. As much as I love this hole-filled route, this year if you are travelling to the Eastern Cape, I would recommend sticking to the N9 and N10 past Colesberg, especially if you are in a rush.


After what felt like an eternity, we arrived in Cradock. A quaint little town that is overflowing with old architecture and culture. But it was here that we filled up our 40-litre tank for the last time and headed into the dark clouds ahead. Concerned about our skinny tyres in the rain, I slowed the speed down to about 100km/h.


With the Jimny, you can't help but find excitement in what is often considered the mundane. So, despite fighting the occasional puddle that caused aquaplaning, strong winds forcing us all over the road, and the brutal shockwave of passing trucks, the Jimny was incredibly fun and exciting to drive in these conditions. In fact, it was such an eventful drive that the remaining two and a half hours passed in the blink of an eye, and, before we knew it, we had arrived in the windy city of GQ.


With the road trip out of the way, let's dive into the specifics of the 5-door Jimny. This new model has been quite highly anticipated, so its ability to draw attention is staggering. Its cute posture brings a smile to almost everybody's face, and the extra doors intrigue most passersby. The Jimny is quite a common vehicle, but the 5-door gets people looking and, more interestingly, smiling.


Naturally, to accommodate the added two doors, Suzuki added 340mm to the wheelbase. I was intrigued upon hearing of the 5-door's arrival to see what Suzuki would prioritise: leg room or boot space on top of the rear door addition. To my relief, I believe they added to both in a rather well-rounded manner. Yes, the back seats remain a little tight for the taller passengers, but considering the massive improvement in boot space, I enjoy the new arrangement.


On the power front, it's all very familiar with the more spacious Jimny, which soldiers on with 75kW and 130Nm of torque. Its increased weight does impact the Jimny's on road performance, but once you hit the gravel, it takes it in strides thanks to the added length of the wheelbase. The 5-speed manual is my preferred option, since I can't help but suspect that the 4-speed auto's gear-shifting may be a bit sluggish in comparison with the added weight. If the 3-door serves as a reference, that is...


Although our adventure has just begun, the Suzuki Jimny 5-Door has already impressed us. Its ability to make the kilometres tick away, even with its modest power figures, its body roll, and its old-school steering characteristics. It was immensely fun to get out on the open road with this little SUV. And now that we have arrived, it's time to put it through a different set of challenges. First, the beach.

related content


Get Top Gear SA news and reviews in your inbox

Enter your email address to receive regular Top Gear SA newsletters

By clicking below you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear SA. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Verify Your Email
To be part of the PETROLHEAD club please verify the email that has been sent to you.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.