Suzuki Jimny (1998 – 2018) Review

Suzuki Jimny (1998 – 2018) At A Glance


+Outstanding ability off-road and cute looks, especially as a soft-top. Cheap to buy.

-Noisy, unsophisticated and cramped on the road. Poor ride and handling.

Insurance Groups are between 14–16
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure

When the Suzuki Jimny went on sale Tony Blair was Prime Minister, Ford still made the Escort and the Euro hadn’t yet been introduced into circulation. The only one of those things that hasn’t changed since is the Jimny. That means it’s very dated, yet it’s still a charming little machine and it’s surprisingly capable off road.

The Jimny hasn’t gone completely unchanged, of course. Over more than a decade it has been lightly tweaked, with different trim levels, equipment and engine options - but on the whole it is the same as it always was. These days it is only offered with a 1.3-litre petrol engine with a modest 85PS, but it does the job in a loud, unsophisticated way.

Road noise, wind noise and tyre noise are intrusive at anything above 50mph, the cabin is cramped, the ride isn’t great, the steering is ponderous and slow and the gearchange is stiff. Yet, despite its flaws, the Jimny is tremendously capable in poor weather, on rough roads and on broken, potholed tracks - and it even works in town thanks to its small size, even if it requires a little more effort than a modern hatchback. 

Where the Jimy really shines, though, is off the road. Its light weight, low range transmission and lockable differential mean it will happily tackle the same kind of tough, muddy terrain as a pricier Land Rover Defender - another relic of a bygone age. For those who live in rural areas the Jimny is ideal - and it has a real cult following among green-laners. 

Of course its off-road prowess is tempered by the almost endless list of flaws. Some will relish the experience, but most - particularly those used to more modern vehicles - will find the Jimny a tiresome vehicle, particularly when it comes to everyday commuting or shopping trips. However, for a select buyer there is nothing quite like it - and nothing else will do.

Real MPG average for a Suzuki Jimny (1998 – 2018)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

25–42 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

Satisfaction Index

Satisfaction Index What is your car like to live with?

We need your help with our latest Satisfaction Index, so that we can help others make a smarter car buying decision. What's it like to live with your car? Love it? Loath it? We want to know. Let us know about your car - it will only take a few minutes and you could be helping thousands of others.

Help us with the Honest John Satisfaction Index now

Ask Honest John

Which 4x4 should I buy for £4,000?

"I am looking for a 4x4 with reasonable mpg. I have a 30-mile round trip five days a week on country roads and also need to go off road to feed livestock. I have a budget of £4,000. What do you suggest? "
I'd recommend the old version of the Dacia Duster. You'll get a diesel model that'll be very economical and capable enough off-road, especially with a decent set of tyres. It'll have more than 100,000 miles on the clock and feel a little tired, but it doesn't sound like that will be a major issue for you. With a full service history it should be mechanically sound. The old Suzuki Jimny is a more rugged off roader, but they suffer badly from rust and aren't actually that economical on fuel despite having a tiny 1.3-litre petrol engine. We have listed all the issues we're aware of on both cars: Dacia Duster: Suzuki Jimny:
Answered by Russell Campbell

I need a low budget 4WD for low mileages - what do you suggest?

"I drive lower than average miles per year, 6000 perhaps. I prefer to be sitting up-right, as in a little 4WD. I would like as economical a car as possible, in terms of running and maintaining. I have a budget of £6000, with some wriggle room. What would you recommend?"
I'd recommend a petrol for 6000 miles a year. A Suzuki Jimny might fit the bill, but it's not the most comfortable road car. I'd probably be looking for something like a Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V - although all will be a bit more expensive to run than a conventional hatchback. You could consider a Honda Jazz which is more versatile and has a slightly higher seating position than a standard hatch.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What's a good Suzuki SX4 equivalent for coping with narrow and winding roads?

"I'm living in Cumbria; windy roads, mountain passes, narrow lanes and lots of potholes. My Suzuki SX4 is a brilliant 4WD car. However, it is not made anymore. What would be a similar car to look at for a suitable replacement? I'm looking for a car which is not too wide (for those narrow lanes) really high clearance, (for tracks and occasional off-road) and, if possible, 4WD capability too. I don't need fancy, I need practical."
I'd stick with Suzuki. They make robust vehicles and most of the range is available with 4x4. You could look at a Swift or Ignis, or if you'd prefer something bigger (and with more ground clearance), consider an SX4 S-Cross or Vitara. Or there's the go-anywhere Jimny, but it's an acquired taste on the road. Also consider a Dacia Duster.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What's the best car used car for ground clearance?

"I currently drive around 6000 miles a year, all short journeys but often down rutted tracks. I am looking for a second-hand car with good ground clearance for around £5k. I am looking at maybe a Suzuki Jimny but would be grateful for any other suggestions. I currently have a Polo."
We're huge fans of the Suzuki Jimny, but you might find it a bit old fashioned after your Polo. It certainly doesn't drive like a hatchback, with vague steering and little in the way of sound insulation. A Suzuki Grand Vitara will be nicer to drive, while an SX4 might be a better compromise between a car and a 4x4. Also, consider a Toyota RAV4 - they're good to drive, and the 2000-2006 RAV4 is available as a short three-door model.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Suzuki Jimny (1998 – 2018) cost?