Chris du Plooy, owner of RFS Auto and 4×4 Mega World Zambesi, loves his little Suzuki Jimny, but he felt it needed a bit more power. As a proactive, get-it-done sort of person, he decided to find a solution.
“I bought the Suzuki Jimny in about 2009 as a little runabout,” says RFS Auto and 4×4 Mega World Zambesi owner Chris du Plooy. “Right from the start, I really liked it, but there was no doubt that it could do with a bit more power.” Sure, the Jimny is small and light, but still, its little 1.3-litre petrol engine delivers only 63kW and 110Nm of torque. That might be enough to get the job done, but it’s not going to blow your hair back. For a few years, Chris simply accepted the performance of the Jimny. He didn’t often drive the vehicle over long distances, but he drove it regularly. Then one day, he happened to see a 1.6-litre Suzuki Swift Sport engine. It looked an awful lot like the Jimny’s; close enough, perhaps, to be dropped into a Jimny engine bay.
“I started looking around for a Swift Sport engine,” says Chris. “Eventually, I found one with low mileage. The vehicle had been in an accident, but the engine was okay.” Chris bought the engine and started looking at ways in which the Jimny could be successfully modified. “It was clear that it would be an expensive and complicated process – perhaps too expensive and complicated to be truly worth it – but it also seemed like an interesting challenge. We wanted to see if we could do it,” says Chris. The sump was modified, and the pistons were replaced. More significantly, though, a Rotrex supercharger was shipped in from Singapore and bolted to the Swift Sport engine. The result? “The Jimny now provides 123kW at the wheels, up from about 48kW before the modification,” says Chris. “It feels incredibly zippy. You only need to touch the accelerator to get it up to 120km/h. Torque is also up quite a bit. The new engine set-up delivers around 190Nm at 5 000r/min.”
Amazingly, the rest of the drivetrain has been left as standard. “It still has its original gearbox and differentials. That said, I do take good care of the drivetrain and never ask too much of it. I never thrash it hard. It’s not about turning the Jimny into a rally car. I simply wanted it to be able to cruise at highway speeds without effort.” The overall cost was significant. The pistons alone were R30 000. The supercharger was R60 000. Add up all the expenses, including the used engine, and the price is around R150 000. So the Jimny’s overall price comes dangerously close to having doubled, but this can be justified somewhat by the fact that the power on offer has nearly tripled…
Since the Suzuki was a joint project between RFS Auto and 4×4 Mega World Zambesi, it has also received some overlanding accessories. There is a replacement ARB bull bar with a winch, and an Old Man Emu aftermarket suspension. The load area now houses a drawer system. The supercharged Jimny doesn’t lead a hard life. Although Chris has done a few longer trips and off-road trails with it, the new engine has only clocked about 20 000km. But he does take it out fairly regularly and it never fails to attract attention. “People love the Jimny. They often stop me on the street to find out what I had done to it,” says Chris. “Especially when they hear the engine. It certainly doesn’t sound like a standard Jimny.”
Want to mod your Jimny?
Perhaps you’re looking to add a whole lot of oomph to your Jimny, or perhaps you simply want to fit it with a few 4×4 extras. Either way, you can contact Hannes Grobler and his team at 4×4 Mega World Zambesi. Tel: 012 548 2371.
Text: GG van Rooyen Photos: Deon van der Walt