… he disappeared one day. With no test cars available during lockdown, Charlie Flindt ponders the fate of The Field’s favourite little four-by-four
It is a sad day, now EU regulations have doomed the Suzuki Jimny, beloved by The Field. Charlie Flindt ponders the fate of our favourite little four-by-four.
Read our last review of everyone’s favourite small SUV, Suzuki Jimny SZ5.
It may seem a tad churlish after all the months of madness to be mourning the loss of just a little car – but this is the Motoring Column. We are sad with good reason, because the little car in question is the Suzuki Jimny.
We at The Field like the Jimny. It’s just our sort of vehicle: chock-full of character, quirky, diminutive and astoundingly confident off-road. When the all-new version was launched in 2019, we greeted it with much enthusiasm: a great little country car had been updated brilliantly. But we spoke too soon. No sooner had it hit the showrooms than Suzuki announced that the great green authoritarian fist of environmentalism had crushed the Jimny’s bright future.
But why? How could it have upset the environmentalists so much? Much of what we like about it would find favour in green eyes, surely? It’s small, and small things need less stuff in their construction. It also takes up less space on the roads, so contributes less to urban congestion. Put two people in it and it is effectively full – far more ethical than a single yummy mummy in a massive seven-seater.
It is powered by a simple petrol engine, perfect for farm pottering – no diesel, so no complicated particulate filters or extra tanks of chemicals (AdBlue), no black smoke and no going for a long, unnecessary drive to ‘clear the tubes’ before the MOT.
The engine is also somewhat underpowered and the Jimny’s designers didn’t have aerodynamics on their minds when finalising its design. The result is a slow car. And there’s nothing authoritarians like more than stopping people driving at speed. Take the Jimny off-road – where it’s happiest – and you’d be hard pressed to see where it has been, thanks to its low weight, big tyres and fantastic grip. There’s no flying mud or churned-up grass to be seen.
In fact, if Professor Ferguson’s environmental activist mistress were looking for the perfect vehicle to whisk her (slowly) to her clandestine meetings with the smoking hot epidemiologist, the Jimny would be it.
But she should look lively; the Jimny has fallen victim to the EU’s CAFE regulations, which force car manufacturers to meet an average CO2 emission target over their range of vehicles, based upon a fiendishly complicated set of criteria, including vehicle weights, size and number sold. The Suzuki stable is, for now, a bit short of electric cars to balance the petrol-powered ones and so, sadly, in order to clear the EU’s latest bureaucratic hurdle, Suzuki has decided that the Jimny’s days in Europe (including, oddly, the post-Brexit UK) are numbered. Bentley’s Bentayga? Safe. Rolls-Royce Cullinan? Approved. BMW X7? Big thumbs-up. Our favourite little 4×4? Doomed.
It’s great news for those who have got their hands on one – the buyer’s premium is extraordinary. And rumour has it that we may yet see the Jimny back in commercial form, with just two seats and no back windows – which would see it nip neatly round the CAFE regulations, and suit us just fine, if it actually happens. But, as Granny Flindt was wont to say, we live in hope rather than expectation.