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Can the 2018 Suzuki Jimny usher in a new era of lifestyle products for Maruti Suzuki?

June 20, 2018, 08:49 PM IST by Venkat Desirazu
Can the 2018 Suzuki Jimny usher in a new era of lifestyle products for Maruti Suzuki?

Suzuki has finally unveiled the fourth generation Jimny SUV ahead of its launch in Japan next month. Around since the 1970s in one form or another, this has been Suzuki’s SUV mainstay with a very similar design and ability.

Now most Indians will be able to relate to the Jimny in the form of the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy which has been on sale here since 1986 in long wheel base form. It’s an iconic SUV for many reasons, among which, we believe one of the most famous is that this is a vehicle that was used by the Indian armed forces for many years. Then there’s also the fact that the Gypsy is spartan, mechanical and at the hands of a good driver is incredibly agile off-road.

Even today, the Gypsy, with its low range gearbox and switchable AWD system is a popular vehicle for jungle safaris, extreme rallying and for going off the beaten paths. But as with all cars, there is a finish line and for the Gypsy, we suspect it will come soon as even the Indian Armed forces have decided to drop the car in favour of more modern vehicles from rival companies. A sign, if any, that we may not see this mighty but small SUV on our roads in the near future. There’s also the fact that the Gypsy is made-to-order and Maruti sells around only 600 units a month which by their standards is as niche as things can get.

It is this niche that has caught our attention with regard to the Jimny - a niche called life style products. We believe that the Jimny has good potential to come in as a replacement to the Gypsy. But this time, it comes with a wider appeal and here are a few reasons why we feel so.

Like the Gypsy, the Jimny too is underpinned by a ladder on frame chassis and can be had with an optional AWD system which includes a low range transfer case pretty much like what the former had. This means that with its small dimensions and low weight and possibly the appropriate tyres, the Jimny should be quite agile on rough trails.

Then there’s the fact that it’s got the old school boxy SUV looks and in a growing sea of crossovers and pseudo crossovers, this raw appeal should help the car stand out. It’s a tried and tested approach for Maruti Suzuki as they have already tasted success with this formula in the likes of the Vitara Brezza.

Many of the stories that had come out within a few hours of official photos being released have called this fourth generation Jimny a mini Mercedes-Benz G-Class. And this is not a bad thing at all as the G-Class has looked more or less the same since its inception and is a big hit even today.

Suzuki has standardised most of its interiors across its range and this, on paper, has made it easy to produce any Suzuki vehicle at any Suzuki facility around the world. Besides, they already produce the Baleno for the Japanese market here in India. So adding another international spec vehicle shouldn’t be too difficult. 

With its compact dimensions, the Jimny would also be a good city SUV and this should appeal to a younger crowd. The larger 1.5-litre petrol engine for the global spec Jimny Sierra might make it higher priced than the Brezza but since it’s likely to be a lifestyle product, the added price shouldn’t matter.  

We reached out to Maruti Suzuki on the possibility of the Jimny coming to India and they have said that at present there are no plans for the car to come to the Indian market. But we believe that there is potential for this compact SUV to succeed in India.

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