The 2018 Suzuki Jimny is the cutest off-roader you can’t get your hands on

The Suzuki Jimny is the underdog of the SUV segment. It offers mountain goat-like off-road capacity and it’s backed by decades of heritage yet it persistently flies under the radar. We predict that will change with the new fourth-generation model. Just look at the thing.

Suzuki took the design in a boxy, almost retro direction without straying too far from what the Jimny has always been: a cheap, durable, no-nonsense off-roader. The front end gets round headlights and a grille with five vertical slots. Fender flares on all four corners add a rugged touch to the look while letting Suzuki give the Jimny a wider track, and the rear end carries on with a door-mounted spare tire. We see a little bit of Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the design but, overall, it’s cohesive.

The cabin mixes modern features with classic styling cues. There’s a tablet-like touchscreen on top of the dashboard for the infotainment system, a feature which brings the Jimny into the 21st century fashionably late. The driver faces a pair of analog gauges with red dials and needles that look like they were sent by Suzuki’s correspondent in the 1970s. The configurable digital screen between the gauges reminds the driver this is 2018, not 1978.

2018-Suzuki-Jimny-interior

The Jimny is cute as a button, but it’s not another cute ‘ute designed for a trip to the mall followed by a Starbucks pit stop before Lucy’s soccer game. Suzuki stuck to the tried-and-true formula of building its tiny SUV on a ladder frame and equipping it with beam axles on both ends. Don’t expect it to offer Maybach-like comfort, or even Jeep Cherokee-like comfort, but we’d bet it can keep up with far more expensive machines on the trail. The short wheelbase and the reduced overhangs help in that regard, too.

Suzuki hasn’t released technical specifications yet. Don’t expect anything too monstrous under that little hood. Top Gear believes the European-spec Jimny will receive a turbocharged three-cylinder as an entry-level engine and a bigger four-cylinder as an optional upgrade. Also found in the Ignis, another one of the Japanese firm’s recent design hits, the latter will make 88 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. Both engines will shift through a five-speed manual transmission and a part-time four-wheel drive system.

The new Suzuki Jimny will go on sale in select global markets (including Europe, Asia, and Australia) before the end of 2018. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, and it will vary from region to region. It’s of little interest to us; Suzuki won’t offer it in America because it hasn’t sold a car here since 2012. If you want one, you’ll have to either move abroad or wait until it’s 25 years old to import one.

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