New Jimny Owner’s 15 Month Review

Why wait 15 months for a review? Frankly, I forgot to write a 12 month review!

Let’s jump back to the 24th of April 2019 and my goofy face on collection day. Looking at this picture makes me realise how quickly the plastic bumpers and trim have lost their deep black colour and how big the stock bumper is πŸ™‚

We’ve had all kinds of cars over the years. This was our first 4×4 car we’ve owned and it came with interesting capabilities and some unusual limitations. The Jimny was also the first car we planned to use for recreational purposes and one that would ultimately become somewhat of a hobby project for me.

The Good, Bad and the Fugly

I’ve watched and read many reviews from people more qualified with a greater understanding of cars than I, so I’ll not try to reproduce that. Instead I’ll write about how a relatively cheap and definitely little car can unlock a lot of unexpected fun and enjoyment. So this is as much a review of the experience owning a Jimny as the car itself.

I’ll try not write too much on the good points as it’s obvious if you have ever seen any of my Instagram or YouTube videos that I’m a massive supporter of the new Jimny. I’ll talk about the things that aren’t perfect about the Jimny. Perhaps not deal breakers as to whether or not you should buy one for yourself but just observations from a layman.

Power & Daily Driving

We bought the automatic SZ5 model which for better or worse is perfect for us. Not being a massive fan of driving the automatic makes the experience of getting from A to B better. We live in a small town and 90% of the Jimny’s miles is through slow streets with countless stop and starts. Over what seems like a billion speed ramps and a sea of pot holes. I’m exaggerating of course but nevertheless the automatic transmission for daily driving is more enjoyable.

The power of the auto is adequate and to us doesn’t feel underpowered, however it’s worth noting that we don’t drive fast or very far for the vast majority of our time on the road. Your milage may vary in this regard and if you’re coming from a decent powered car you may feel its power laughable in comparison. We never feel like we can’t quickly get out at junctions or that we lag behind traffic in any way.

The most fun factor of the Jimny as your daily driver is how nimble it is. Zipping around the small streets and car parks with such a high ride position is wonderful. Just about every review I’ve seen mentions that the car makes them smile every time they get in. While that was certainly true for many months of course the novelty wears off eventually. It’s still a country mile ahead of anything I’ve driven in the past in respect to the good feeling it brings.

Confidence and feel

The feel of the Jimny at higher speeds and cornering was the start of my goal to pursue a camper setup that was as light and low profile as possible. I’m still not there yet but have managed to make changes to the car to improve how well it drives with a roof load and rear cargo weight being factored in.

The biggest improvement came from upgrading the suspension. We went with Old Man Emu but I’m sure any good brand will offer similar results. The extra stiffness helped a great deal with the side to side wobble of the stock suspension that is accentuated with excess roof load.

Old Man Emu New Jimny 40mm Lift Kit

Also the stock tires are fine but I felt more confident in corners with the stiffer sidewalls of the Toyo Open Country A/T Plus. Clearly BF Goodrich (the most common choice) will do the same.

In strong winds I still get the odd “Whoa!” moment but after a while you get used to it. Unless you’re crazy and do something stupid it’s fine.

I have found that I’m more likely to overtake with the OME kit on, whether it’s just a placebo of getting the upgrade I’m not certain. One things is certain, I still choose not to sit at 70 mph on the motorways with or without the camping set up on. It just doesn’t feel relaxing enough. It’s not that it feels particularly unsafe it’s just loud and a bit stressful. We just want a chilled out life.

Practicalities

My wife and I don’t encounter many space issues with the Jimny. In fact it’s far more spacious than our last car, a 5 door Nissan Micra.

I’m 6 foot tall, not a thick set guy but not small either and there’s a ton of room for me in the drivers seat with what feels like endless head room. The ride height and visibility is superb too.

One visibility pain point is the tinted rear windows on the SZ5 model makes reversing more difficult than it needs to be. Especially at night or when I go camping in woodlands, it can get really difficult to see. I’ve bought a reversing camera and would recommend it.

We have the back seats folded flat permanently so boot space is never an issue. If you need to use the back seats, then yes, boot space can become a problem. We have loaded a few weeks worth of shopping in the space behind the seats when we first bought it, so it’s not completely useless.

Seats Flat in the Jinmy

My advice is to have some sort of system to keep stuff from moving around, even if it’s just bungees and cargo nets or your tomatoes will have the ride of their life. I made some other kinds of inner and roof mounted storage systems more specific to camping.

Getting from A to B comes under practicalities I’d say and this leads to the Jimny’s small fuel tank. We feel its limits on longer trips but it’s not a deal breaker in the UK, with many petrol stations within easy access. Clearly this could be a real problem for you in remote locations of bigger countries. There’s extra fuel storage systems of course, rotopax, front runner jerry can holders if you need it.

Fuel economy wise we get around 30 mpg (48 kmh) on a run travelling at 65 mph (104 kph). This is with the camping setup loaded so your experience will vary. 30 mpg ought to mean 263 mile (423 km) range from a tank in the auto. If you’re anything like me and don’t like driving with the low fuel warning light on you’ll get around 200 miles (321 km) between fill ups.

It’s worth mentioning that the auto engine is revvy past 60 mph. I’m not certain how the manual compares but it’s more pleasant sitting just under 3000 rpm and you get far better gas miles.

Often when you accelerate past 50 mph the auto gearbox will take an age to change down again. Revving away at 4000 rpm for quite some time unless you completely lift off the accelerator. This can get annoying at times especially if you’re scrapping with your better half over directions.

Quality & Finish

I know it’s a low priced off-roader and as such expectations shouldn’t be that high but we’re really happy with the build quality of the Jimny. It’s not without its flaws though.

The paintwork… look at it the wrong way and you’ll be the proud owner of a new scratch. Maybe it’s just the black Jimny? I don’t know for sure but I’ve never had a car with paintwork so soft and prone to marks and scratches. I can literally walk past the car brushing my shorts along on the door and the plastic buttons leave a mark.

I managed to alleviate some of the problem with a ceramic coating but it’s never going to be robust bodywork. I appreciate it’s a rugged off road vehicle and I maybe shouldn’t care about scratches but I’d rather it wasn’t as easy to rough the car up. I might just be a fanny but I like to look after my kit.

Even the plastic interior that’s sold as hard wearing isn’t hard wearing. It’s as prone to marks and scratches as easily as the paintwork. This was part of the reasons I started making leather handle covers as my wife’s rings left scratches on the door handles and handbrake. Plus all that plastic needs some texture and comfort!

The seats ache my left glute and hamstring after around 1 hour of constant driving, but every car I’ve ever owned does that. One real surprise with such cheap seats is I don’t get a bad back! That’s a real plus point as almost every car in the last 15 years has given me a sore back on prolonged journeys. I have heard some Jimny owners saying they get a sore back, so don’t hold me to this!

The user experience of the controls for the heating and electric windows takes a bit getting used to. Is this a genuine concern? Probably not, but when you first get your Jimny you can join the club of owners who use the middle dial to adjust the speed of the air conditioning fans (it’s the one of the left) and fumble with the door to try and find the window switch (it’s below the centre dials). I’m in app design for a living and it’s nice to know the big companies make user experience errors too πŸ˜….

I love the interior design, the layout (exclude points above) and the simplicity. Unless you have the arms like a T-Rex, everything is within reach. I can even reach behind and grab almost anything out the back from the front seat (and off the window molle storage too!).

Customisation

Well isn’t this fun? Who would have thought a non car person would become so obsessed with making this car their own. This is hands down the most enjoyable aspect of owning the car for me. Customising it for the purposes of creating a micro camper or just improving the look and feel with better suspension and aftermarket kit.

I’ve not gone crazy with huge mods or anything, certainly nothing the average Joe can’t do but it’s been a lot of fun researching what other owners are doing and even coming up with my own ideas and unique customisations. If you’re into working through creative ideas and solving problems you’ll love the blank canvas of the Jimny.

The limits are its best attributes when it comes to customising a Jimny. Much like how Twitter’s character limitations encouraged their audience to innovate and achieve more within its boundaries, the Jimny does the same.

Every decision I make on what to add, remove or change factors in additional weight, space and whether it’s essential. There’s so much kit I thought I’d need when camping that I no longer take, and I take a lot of kit compared to most. Camping for me is about comfort and isolation not about roughing it.

Do I use it enough? Is that extra weight and bulk really necessary? These thoughts ring around my head with every minor change I make.

This might be your worst nightmare as you might want to have no limits. However it’s the Jimny’s limitations and overcoming them that has been the best reward as an owner thus far.

My customisations aren’t over yet by a long way.

Motivation

Motivation…what’s that got to do with owning a Jimny?

The reason is I’ve found this car to be a good motivator to do stuff. Not sit around procrastinating and instead to get out and enjoy using it, or write articles like this hoping that people still read these days.

I don’t know if you’re like me but often times I get these wild ideas and think I’ll do something positive because I now that have {insert something I wasted money on here}. Eventually the idea fades into a gloop of ‘I’ll do it next week‘ hopes and dreams.

The Jimny is different. It has boosted my motivation to use and enjoy the vehicle for the reasons I bought it. It’s also ended up costing a lot more than I intended and become a bit of a hobby, but that’s ok.

I’ve found times when I felt like crap but still decided last minute to go camping when the opportunity arose. Without fail they’ve been the best mini adventures. The most memorable for sure.

Out of interest, I started shooting videos of my trips because my long term memory sucks and I wanted to be able to look back on something better than a folder of unseen pictures.

It isn’t just shooting videos either, buying the Jimny has encouraged me to:

  • Go camping more
  • Write a blog
  • Make leather handle sets for other owners
  • Shoot videos (that for some reason get watched…thank you!
  • Design 2 products of my own with more in the works.

So yeah, it’s had a positive impact beyond what I expected and that’s a good thing. It’s easy to sit on your arse and just exist watching Netflix, that’s nothing to look back on with any joy.

Social

A few years ago I deleted a personal Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media distraction. I was completely fed up being chained to it and there was nothing positive in return. I’d much rather meet my pals face to face.

For many years prior to that I really didn’t get the point of social media other than show boating or some other narcissistic reason. That’s until I started sharing stuff about the Jimny. I set up an Instagram page for the car as they were still fairly new in the UK and I’d struggled to find information myself prior to buying it.

It turns out the social media can be a positive experience if you’re aligned with people that share an interest. Shock horror I know! People like people who like what they like.

There’s new friends been made and some really nice people I chat with quite regular (you know who you are) that have been generous with their advice, ideas and support. This has been the icing on the cake and something I believe adds to the Jimny/off-road vehicle owners experience. An unexpected and welcomed result for sure.

Round up

The Jimny isn’t perfect but it’s a fun and capable car that seems to like it’s predetermined limits being broken by it’s owners. I can see this every week with new customisations both sensible and bonkers happening all the time. Whether you leave it stock or fanny on with it like me you’re definitely in for a unique experience.

You might still dream about bigger vehicles that can pull a gorgeous off-road trailer or load latest and greatest (heavy) roof tent. Maybe you drool over tires and clearance as high as Snoop Dogg. Thing is, I can’t imagine many who would say the Jimny isn’t worth buying if they get the chance to get behind the wheel.

That wraps up what I hope is the weirdest owners reviews you’ll ever read.

Cheers 🍻

10 thoughts on “New Jimny Owner’s 15 Month Review

  1. Very well written mate and spot on critiques.
    My partner has one and I am so impressed, I am looking for one as well.
    Living in NZ we have tons of off road access to be able to enjoy these quirky vehicles.

    1. Cheers David, quirky is a great word for it πŸ™‚

      You’re super lucky having all that off road access mate, especially in beautiful NZ πŸ‘

  2. Hi Geordie. Great review. Thanks. Leaving for my first camping outing in my new Jimny next week to Γ†rΓΈ, Denmark. Best Lars

  3. Got the same car and plan on following your footsteps in terms of rack and roof tent (once I get the business case past the Mrs!).

    Echo your comments in this review – I’m just over 12 months into ownership on mine. Nice to see someone not default to the BF Goodrich tyres too.

    Only bit I am struggling on is finding the anchor loops that bolt into all the fixing points in the rear (like where you’ve mounted that table you’ve made). Gonna have a root through your kit list section to see if you mention any there.

    I’ll keep following this site with interest πŸ‘πŸ»

  4. I’m so glad there are people out there who will still take the time to write a proper blog! That was a great read. My husband and I are waiting on our Jimny to arrive here in NZ, and we’ve been binge watching all your camping videos – they are beautiful and your camping mods are very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I’m really glad it helps πŸ™‚

      Congrats on your Jimny, I bet you can’t wait. Literally just watched a clip of a land rover driving across a jaw dropping NZ landscape. Fun times ahead 🍻

    1. Congratulations Abdul. Let me know if I can help with anything 😊 i’m certainly not an expert but discovering new learnings all the time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *