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Driving impression: Suzuki’s entry-level R266 900 Jimny GA

5 November 2018

As we’ve mentioned numerous times before this year, 2018 seems to be the year most manufacturers decided to replace their iconic vehicles.

While we’re still waiting for the Jeep Wrangler to arrive, the launch of the all-new G-Class is imminent. And last week the all-new Jimny finally arrived in South Africa.

We first drove this little tyke shortly after the Festival of Motoring, where it was revealed that Suzuki would be introducing three models in total. A high-spec GLX in manual and automatic, and an all-new base model retailing for the same price as the old Jimny. Smart move, we reckoned. If we’re being honest, it was the one we were looking forward to driving the most, if only to see if you could actually live with such a thing. It does without a lot of the luxuries the top-spec model has and those new-fangled luxuries do make a huge difference in terms of living with the car on a day-to-day basis.

So, armed with a GA specification Jimny, we set off on a particularly dark, misty and rainy evening from the Kruger Park International Airport to our accommodation some 60km away. On that particular stretch it felt the same as the high-spec model we drove before. The cabin was quiet enough to carry a conversation and the radio played soothing tunes in the background. Once again, the new Jimny proved that it was much better at doing mundane things that the previous model.

So, what does Suzuki delete to make it so cheap? Well, it’s all cosmetic and luxury items. In terms of the 4×4 stuff, every model is exactly the same. The GA has the same solid underpinnings, transfer case with low-range and Suzuki’s AllGrip system. On the off-road portion of the drive, it was just as capable as the other models.

On the cosmetic front, the GA does without the fancy alloys, but we’re not so sure this is a bad thing. More than a few journalists commented that they preferred the steelies than the alloys. And after spending two days with a GA model, we agree. We’d actually opt for those wheels instead of the fancy alloys if we purchased a higher-specification model. That’s how much we like those wheels…

Think of the GA as a blank canvas, or a nice starting point if you’re buying a car to modify. At R266 000, it represents epic value for money. At that price, there’s nothing else that even comes close to touching it in terms of ability.

But has Suzuki deleted something that would infuriate you at the end of the day?

Yes, but there’s only one thing that really annoyed us from the start – the lack of central locking. On the GA you have to open the doors and boot with an old-fashioned key.

The rest we could live with easily, even the lack of electric windows. The radio was good enough, the air-conditioning did its job and that’s about it really. If you often travel long distances, the lack of cruise control might bother you, but the old model did pretty well without it.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix. Our local Suzuki dealer told us you could fit central locking for a mere R2500. Even with that one optional extra, the Jimny GA still comes in at less than R270 000.

Bargain of the year.