The Suzuki Jinny: Still Going Strong After Twenty Years


The late nineties was a time of optimism. The economy was booming, terrorism was the last thing on most people’s minds, and the internet had barely gotten started. There certainly wasn’t any iTunes. But before long, the world changed forever, and we entered what many of us now consider the modern age of mass surveillance and high technology.

But it seems as if for one Japanese company, Suzuki, none of this rapid technological change has registered. In fact, it’s still churning out some vehicles which are virtually unchanged from two decades ago.

Meet the Jinny, the company’s response to the increasingly popular 4×4 and offroad vehicles that are becoming an increasing share of the overall market. While other motor companies, like Range Rover, Subaru and Jaguar continually updated their lines to reflect modern technologies and tastes, Suzuki has found what it thinks is the perfect formula in the Jinny and has decided to stick with it.

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Most car enthusiasts don’t know this, but the Jinny has now been in production for more than twenty years. It’s made in the same car plant as it was in the 1990s, and practically no aspect of the design has been changed.

It’s A 4×4, But In Miniature

The selling point for most 4x4s is the space that they provide. But the Jinny is a rare breed. The vast majority of off-road vehicles have five doors, but this iconic model from Suzuki only has three. It’s a cross between a Nissan Micra and a Renault Doblo: small, but intensely utilitarian.

There are, of course, back seats. But for most road trips, you’ll want to put these down. With the seats up, there isn’t enough space for all the stuff that 4×4 owners usually want to take with them, like camping equipment, mountain bikes, and luggage. As far as space goes, you’re better off choosing a newer model.

Is Reliability Any Better?

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There’s a reason why companies, like Tokyo Automotive, rarely get to see any Jinnys in their workshop: they’re incredibly reliable. These cars were made in a time when car design was simpler. For Suzuki, this has made it much easier to refine the design and increase reliability. Thanks to a reliable gearbox and suspension, the Jinny is just about as tough as it gets, and has a proven record off-road as well as on it. It’s not every day that you come across a car that is able to do 60,000 miles off-road under manufacturer’s warranty.

What About Cost?

If you want a cheap car for going off road, then there probably isn’t a cheaper option than the Jinny. With that said, if you’re planning on staying on the road from time to time, then there are better options. Thanks to its drive train and off-road engineering, the price of the car is higher than its looks would suggest.

Then there’s the problem of practicality. Because space is so limited, it really isn’t suitable as a family car. And this is what ultimately limits its appeal.


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About Sean Mackay

Sean writes about cars, golf and events going on in British Columbia, Canada. He is also the editor for The Automotive Review - an automotive publication bringing a West Coast flavour to its editorials.
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