I fooled a lot of people during my test drive of the fourth-generation Suzuki Jimny earlier this month. “Look! Here’s the new baby variant of the G Class!” They fell for it — and yet our tester didn’t even have one of those many conversion kits to give it an almost identical appearance to the Mercedes-Benz. The similarities are not only skin deep; what we have here is a highly capable off-road vehicle, much like the G Class. Sure, it totally lacks the iconic German’s luxury and tech — but on the bright side, it also doesn’t come with its obscene price tag. It is a lovable little thing and easy to understand why it has such a cult following.

It’s a great form of entertainment on four wheels and if I was buying one then I would have to have it in the attention grabbing green paintwork with contrasting black roof, as seen here. Not that this four-wheel drive mini SUV needs any more character; its boxy styling,  clamshell bonnet, five-slat grille (two more and Jeep would have come calling...), wide wheel arches, and spare tyre on the tailgate sure help it to stand out from the crowd.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

The spartan interior is really mostly made out of plastic but it is the hard-wearing kind, designed to be hosed off after a day of kicking up a storm on muddy trails and sandy dunes. It has a grab handle for the front passenger, cruise control and the AC blows nice and cold. There’s not much more to add. Oh, ours came with a large 9.0in infotainment system. Although the seats are nicely padded and comfortable, the cabin is narrow and leg room is at a premium. In the back you’ll find two more seats and even though it can carry four adults the Jimny, which boasts a large glasshouse providing great all-round vision, really is more for personal transport. It would bet better to use the rear space with the seats folded and creating 377 litres of luggage room because with them up all you have is a laughable 85 litres.

Still boasting a ladder frame construction, AllGrip Pro all-wheel drive, a  low-range transfer case that enables switching between 2WD-high, 4WD-high, or 4WD-low, a 34-degree approach angle, 49-degree departure angle, 210mm of ground clearance and live axles front and rear you have the recipe for some seriously good off-roading ability. Weighing just 1,075kg and powered by 100 horsepower, 130Nm torque 1.5-litre, four-cylinder mated to a four-speed automatic, it has enough grunt to get it moving, tackle treacherous terrain and generally excel on rutted tracks.

It is also enjoyable to drive around town and due to its tiny dimensions (it measures just 3,645mm from nose to tail) you can pull off all sorts of manoeuvres in tight spots. The ride isn’t exactly comfortable — you are often bouncing around in there due to the softly sprung suspension and the extra short wheelbase — but again, this is part of its charm and just another reason why this Japanese Kei car makes you smile.

Without a doubt, Suzuki nailed it with this fourth-gen model; it is bags of fun to drive whether you are cruising around town or heading out on your next all-wheel drive adventure and it looks like a cross between the G Class and Land Rover Defender. We recommend it — but the only issue you might face is actually getting your hands on one of these. Global demand is so high right now that Suzuki can’t make them fast enough. Be patient, it will be worth the wait.