If you are someone who has followed the Indian automotive sector, you would be well aware of the significance that the Gypsy had in the country. Whether it was enthusiasts, rally driver, the police or even the armed forces, everyone swore by the Gypsy. It was officially the first OG car that we had in India. And I would know, having bullied my father into buying one as his first car all the way back in 1992. I swore by the Gypsy as a kid, learnt to drive in one way back in 1995, and loved it till the time I drove better, faster cars and then lost interest in it. With its ladder frame and leaf spring suspension, let’s just say the Gypsy was the not the most comfortable car in the world, but with its legendary off-road ability, it remained the lifestyle vehicle of choice – well, to be honest, in the early days, it was not like we had any other option – and was highly desirable. So, when Maruti Suzuki decided to bring the Jimny into India, there was a touch of nostalgia for me – my father’s first car, the car I learnt to drive in and all that – and honestly speaking, it was love at first time for me. But, remembering my later impression of the Gypsy, I was a bit wary of the Jimny. Would it be bouncy and uncomfortable like its predecessor, or had the engineers at Maruti Suzuki figured it all out by now, well, we drove it both on and off-road to find out exactly that.
Maruti Suzuki Jimny Review: Dainty little thing
One thing about the Jimny though, is that unlike the Gypsy, it’s quite a dainty looking thing. At just under 4-metres in length the Jimny is narrower and shorter than the Thar, and that means that it doesn’t look as butch. But with its retro touches – round headlamps, that slatted grille and slab sided doors – I think it looks great. A sort of utilitarian design meant to signal that the Jimny means purpose. While the 195-section tyres of 15-inchh wheels fit the car well, I think one modification most customers are going to do is to give it bigger wheels and tyres. And if international trends are any indication, be prepared to see hundreds of aftermarket parts and body kits for the Jimny with people going all-out to customise their car to their tastes. When it comes to the matter of space, though, the Jimny does a decent job of seating four adults – five will be too tight – and has a reasonable amount of boot space given its overall size. I think four adults going out for a weekend trip should be able to fit in easily with their luggage. However, the rear seat is a bit of a hit-and-a-miss. While there is enough legroom, the seat squab itself is small and there is a lack of under thigh support, which means long journeys would be an issue. Also, the headroom is limited in both the front and the rear and people taller than six feet will have a hard time fitting in.
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When it comes to the design of the interiors, there are again retro touches such as the round dials, the rubber boot below the gear lever and all of these evoke memories of the Gypsy. The design itself is fairly utilitarian, but don’t let that fool you, the Jimny comes quite well equipped with climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a big multimedia touchscreen and even six airbags on all variants. However, the plastic quality of the interiors could certainly be better, but the bigger bugbear for me was a lack of storage space in the cabin. Save for the two small cupholders in the middle of the front seats, there is no space to store a water bottle or even your wallet and phone. Needless to say, one or the other aftermarket accessories will be required to remedy that.
Maruti Suzuki Jimny Review: Is it underpowered?
One pressing question I asked myself and saw repeatedly being raised on social media was that with the 103bhp that it’s 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine provides, is the Jimny underpowered? Well, in a one word answer, no, it’s not. But, would I like more power in the Jimny, absolutely yes. Driving it on-road, the Jimny has no problem keeping up with traffic, and attaining three-digit speeds is quite easy. But you do feel that another 25bhp would’ve made the Jimny much faster and much more enjoyable. Also, due to a paucity of time, I could only drive the five-speed manual gearbox, the shifts of which are a bit sticky, but overall it’s a good combination between the engine and the gearbox. The steering is quite linear but is devoid of feel and the Jimny feels quite surefooted both on and off the road. What really surprises you is how well the Jimny rides. Despite being based on a ladder frame chassis, the Jimny has terrific ride quality both on and off the road and you do not get any memories of the Gypsy in this regard. In fact, if you didn’t know, you could easily be thinking that you’re driving a Brezza or a Swift, which is basically how well the Jimny deals with bumps and potholes.
We also got to do a fairly serious amount of off-roading on the dried river bed around Dehradun, and the Jimny was absolutely like a mountain goat – capable of going virtually anywhere – and tackling rock beds, tough climbs, water wading and what not. What really works in the Jimny’s favour – apart from the four-wheel drive hardware – is that at 1,200kgs, the Jimny has so much less mass, which gives it an advantage over most other off-roaders. On the road too, the handling and the ride are also much better because the Jimny is so light despite having a ladder frame and all that four-wheel drive hardware.
Also Read: Maruti Suzuki Jimny Crosses Over 30,000 Bookings in India
Maruti Suzuki Jimny Review: Should you buy one?
Well, that depends on the pricing of the Jimny, but I expect it to be priced around Rs. 13 lakh for the top variant (ex-showroom, of course) and at that kind of a price point, it’s one hell of a deal. In fact, I would go on to say that it’s probably the only true off-roader in India that you can use every day and not complain about the ride or the comfort. Is it perfect? Well, no, it’s not. I would like better plastics, a better rear seat and more power, and more storage space. But given how well it drives, how great it looks, and of course, with my attached nostalgia I would totally buy one at that price. Yes, for some it won’t be as burly or aggressive looking as the Thar, but I think it looks great and has more ability off the road than most of us will ever need. And that makes it one of the hottest cars of 2023 in my book, and totally worth buying.
- Maruti Suzuki Jimny
X-Factor: The Jimny gets close to being the ultimate off-roader you can buy!
• Stunning off-road ability
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