When Suzuki re-introduced the Jimny to the UK as an LCV, to avoid the penalty it created in passenger car range CO2 limits, it seemed to make little commercial sense. A small volume and payload, even by car-derived van standards, it was pitched more as a fun two-seat 4×4 – nobody mention the Suzuki X90 at this point. The notion has validity, however, aimed at urbanite dinkies who’d love its Bonsai G-Wagen styling and don’t need rear seats, it’s equally appealling to hard-nosed off-roaders who know it can embarrass much bigger 4x4s.

Technically the Jimny LCV is a window-van, the rear seat has gone and a metal (upper mesh) bulkhead has appeared, making the lack of lashing eyes a minor gripe. The load
bay is square at floor level with 915mm each way, opening to 1,300mm wide a couple of inches off the deck. Headroom is 915mm giving 0.86m3 load space. With a kerb mass to GVM difference of 340kg, unless you too are dinky, you’re looking at a quarter-t of tools or tackle – so it’s not a cargo carrier. It might be a cargo hauler, however. A GTM of 2,735kg means a trailer allowance of 1,300kg. Like all off-roaders, this uses the low-range reduction gear to achieve the figure, but a straight one-tonne should be easy enough. Sure, some car-derived vans can tow that, but not across a building site or farm land.

This is a full-capability off-road 4×4, not just an all-season suv-based van. Traditional beam axles on long travel coil springs, selectable 4WD with a (moderate) 2:1 low-range reduction, electronic traction control and Hill Descent mode. It’s light, short and narrow with a good turning circle – albeit taking four turns lock-to-lock – and 195/80R15 tyres offer fitment of proper off-road rubber once the Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts are worn. 

The interior is not spacious, it’s expectedly narrow and the bulkhead prevents seat backrest recline – tall drivers beware. It feels like an old Defender 90 TruckCab. Stowage is reasonable, with a decent glove box and phone-sized slots around the handbrake and slim door bins that will just take an O/S map, which you’ll need as there’s no satnav. 

There’s DAB radio and Bluetooth with steering wheel switches for audio, phone and cruise control. Headlamps are auto for dip and main – the latter is particularly good, with power and beam spread more akin to a four-lamp set-up and a quick change of beam pattern when required. 

All the controls are light, with a slightly notchy gear change selecting five short ratios. In top it only pulls 20mph/1,000rpm, meaning the 130Nm peak torque would not arrive until 80mph. The 1.5l 16-valve petrol unit is flexible and capable at half those revs, if ever a vehicle needed a sixth gear, this is it. 

On B-roads you have to drive it, use the revs, use the gears, user your brain and even the vague recirculating-ball steering mechanism – ideal off-road – doesn’t spoil the enjoyment. Grip is moderate and understeer is the default, but you can neutralise it with delicate but deliberate throttle in old-school rear-drive fashion. On half-decent roads the ride is good. Despite the need to work hard for the 101hp, we saw 38mpg over 630 miles. A car-derived diesel would be getting 15mpg more. 

The Dacia Duster van has this price-point but can’t follow the Jimny point-to-point, and a Defender 90 Commercial costs more than double, if your working day requires, or your weekend desires, full off-road ability then this little commercial makes sense.

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 ALLGRIP 4×4 Light Commercial Vehicle 

Price (ex VAT) £16,796

Price range (ex VAT) £17,668

Insurance group 23D

Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls

Service intervals 1yr/9,000mls (14,000 Kms)  

Load length 916mm

Load width (min/max) 1,300mm /915mm

Load bay height 916 mm

Gross payload 340kg

Load volume 0.9m3

Engine size/power 1,462cc/101bhp

Combined fuel economy 36.7mpg

CO2 173g/km