The new Jimny has a lot riding on its shoulders, but it sure seems to be able to take over the immense responsibilities that currently rest on the Gypsy’s shoulders.
There has been a lot of material floating around the internet recently about the new fourth generation Suzuki Jimny, such as leaked pictures and brochures of the car.
Meanwhile, here in India we still have the good old second-generation model that’s been on sale in our market for over three decades! Sure, it had its share of updates – from the Suzuki F10A engined MG410 of the 80s to the Suzuki G13BB powered MG413W Gypsy King of today – but underneath it’s still the rugged old warrior that cemented the Gypsy’s rank within our Armed forces as the default light military vehicle of choice. What’s more, the Gypsy comes from a time when no one even understood or paid heed to the concept of an SUV. Built to a purpose, the Gypsy even today comes with no creature comforts at all – well it has a heater, if that counts.
But if you look at a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy King solely for what it is, you’ll quickly realize what an absolutely brilliant vehicle it is. There are no fancy electronics here, just a tough ladder frame chassis, a proper old school styled body shape that you could draw with a ruler and pencil, a rev happy petrol engine with Japanese reliability and a good old four-wheel drive transfer case. Our defence forces love the Gypsy for its bulletproof reliability, tough nature and off-road abilities that can challenge a mountain goat.
These characteristics have made the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy an absolute hit amongst motorsport aficionados in India. From being a legendary multiple rally champion to being the favourite vehicle for off-road clubs across the country, the Gypsy has done it all.
Fortunately, the third-generation model never made it to India. For it was designed to be a Kei car from the beginning, in line with regulations in Japan. And while it too was quite capable, deep down I feel that it doesn’t have what it takes to live up to the mighty Gypsy King. Plus, it never looked cool enough anyway.
This new fourth-generation model then has a lot to live up to, if it wants to make it to India.
One look at it tells you that unlike its immediate predecessor, this car means business. With its boxy design, it too looks like a ruler and pencil job. You can see the big circular differential housings peering at you from underneath, the external rear door hinges scream old school, while the chunky body cladding all around and its high set stance seem to make sure it doesn’t blend into the modern world of compact pseudo SUVs.
Yup, this is no regular compact SUV. It’s true that this particular version meets Kei car norms in Japan but there will be a long-wheelbase five-door model with an engine capacity of larger than 600cc (Kei car territory). It has been confirmed that it will get Suzuki’s brand new 1.5 litre, four-cylinder K-Series petrol engine. And this is good news, for it makes in excess of 100bhp and will undoubtedly be a rev happy engine. However, the final state of tune will vary for the Jimny as the unit will be tuned for better torque delivery for four-wheel drive application.
There appears to be enough space for decent travel in the wheel wells, and the chunky wheels further boost its off-road intentions. If I have to make a personal observation here, I’d say that its just the front fascia that could do with a little more butch styling. Sure, the front bumper is spot on. But the signature five-slat grille looks a little too boring for me. Maybe something a little more aggressive and tall would help, like that of the Gypsy King.
The interior of the new Jimny hark back to the Gypsy too with those big round instruments complete with the four bolts around them. The gear lever is tall, and there’s that grab rail bang in front of the front passenger. Just like the exterior, the interior too is very boxy. And I like that! I just hope that like the Gypsy, the new Jimny too comes with a green backlit 4WD sign located at the bottom of the speedometer (it’s of personal sentimental value). That would really do the trick for Gypsy fans and indeed be a fitting tribute to the car that we’ve come to love.
There is no getting away from the fact that the Gypsy has gotten long in the tooth in its 30-year lifespan in India. The only takers are the Indian armed forces, Indian government and a handful of private buyers. And all parties have one aspect in common for buying/using the Gypsy – there simply is no alternative. The Gypsy is the only hardcore off-roader in India that is reliable, affordable and is virtually unbreakable. Sure, Tata has made a Safari Storme for the armed forces. And while it is perfectly functional as a squad car to transport officials, I will reserve my judgement about its abilities to withstand the harsh conditions in some remote parts of the country until proven otherwise. The Gypsy also runs on petrol (far easier to use in sub-zero temperatures compared to diesel engines) and is very light. So, in case it gets stuck, its very easy for soldiers to get it going again. Plus, the Gypsy can be airlifted by lower powered helicopters to higher reaches in inaccessible regions. The Indian Army is also trying out specially prepared Force Gurkhas, and this I feel could be the replacement for the Gypsy as a light and capable off-roader that is just as hardcore and even comes with differential locks. However, for now the Maruti Gypsy continues to be the military vehicle of choice for India.
The new Jimny has a lot riding on its shoulders then. For it sure seems to be able to take over the immense responsibilities that currently rest on the Gypsy’s shoulders.
And gauging by how things are going, we could finally get the new five-door Jimny in India, owing to the upcoming crash norms in India and BS VI regulations. Until then, long live the King!