An absolutely fun road trip from Guayaquil to Vilcabamba.
Suzuki Jimny, El Oro province. On the way to Vilcabamba.
Words: Jairo Cabrera / Suzuki photos: Byron Quiñones / Vilcabamba photos: William Bolton. Map: OpenStreetMap.
The JB74 Suzuki Jimny has recently arrived in Ecuador, and we have had the opportunity to test it. When the first batch of the first 100 Jimny’s arrived, they were sold out. This vehicle is not from that batch of vehicles, Diego bought this Jimny in green color a few weeks ago, and nowadays we know that one can buy a Jimny at the dealers of the brand. We had a wonderful weekend. We have travelled from Guayaquil to Vilcabamba in Loja province. In the southern part of the Ecuadorian Andes mountains, which is on average above 2.000 m a.s.l. We will travel the traditional road that takes us from Guayaquil, passes through Balsas, arrives in Loja and after about 40 minutes we will arrive in Vilcabamba.
Let’s start by saying that this little square cubicle is a fun, capable off-road vehicle and is one of the cheapest 4×4 money can buy. It’s impressive what you can store inside this vehicle.
Some of the features on the exterior of the new Suzuki Jimny are the roof channels up here, which makes it easy to fit a lightweight roof rack, that’s the key word there, the side mirrors are electronically controlled.
Suzuki Jimny tyres.
This model has those beautiful 15-inch alloy wheels. I think these look stunning and really suit the car. The headlights are not LED like those on neighboring versions sold in Colombia or Peru. And we don’t know exactly if any of the Jimmy’s for sale have those lights. Diego’s car has halogen lights, typical of the old school.
A bit of clever packing and organizing I think you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you can fit inside; I’m really surprised at how much stuff you can fit in this fireplace and the good thing is that there’s still a bit more space.
So, what do we have? Among the things we need to mobilize during this trip are two chairs. One full-size chair. A smaller trekking chair. We have a very good-sized table. A light cooker with its storage case. We have glasses, plates, bowls everything we need.
Suzuki Jimny steering wheel and instruments.
A bag of clothes. A recovery kit, with a tire deflator with a starter belt and some shackles. We also brought a 75-litre cooler, which is perhaps unthinkable in this vehicle, but it is what we must move from Guayaquil to Vilcabamba.
Many years ago, there was no new JB 74 Suzuki Jimny touring Ecuador. The last version was sold under Chevrolet in the country. Now the Jimmy is sold by the brand that makes it, Suzuki. It has changed a lot in this time, but it is still a very solid package. Until recently the vehicle was only available in Ecuador under reservation, but now there are some available from dealers.
This vehicle is very popular around the world and that’s because people know it’s a good vehicle, and if it’s good, it’s because it’s quite easy to solve when you break one of its parts in the middle of a mountain doing off-road.
Suzuki Jimny interior.
Let’s say it’s cheap, but I don’t think it’s affordable. Personally, I think there is a big difference between the two words. So, while it is one of the cheapest vehicles on the market, it is not for everyone. If we focus on price and within the category, in Ecuador the closest competitor to the Suzuki Jimny for price, I dare say, is the UAZ Patriot. However, in terms of technical characteristics, the segments are different.
This Jimmy has an infotainment screen with useful things like navigation, sound system. Acoustically the car is not very well insulated, but it does its job well. The alloys look very good.
Now let’s talk about the engine. It’s a 1.5-litre four-cylinder, powered by naturally aspirated petrol. The one we drove is done in a five-speed manual gearbox. You can also get a four-speed automatic that costs a couple of thousand dollars extra. These days more and more people are opting for an automatic transmission in their vehicles, but I dare say that driving this Jimmy with the manual transmission is how you really enjoy driving it.
Suzuki Jimny, Vilcabamba.
What’s it like to drive a Jimny? To be honest, it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun. I admit it’s a bit silly but at the same time I think it’s practical in many ways. It’s very manoeuvrable, sitting in the cockpit you have good visibility. It can accommodate everything you need when you’re living day to day. It’s obviously not a Suzuki Vitara, it’s not a 5-door where you can comfortably carry your family. Nor is it a Volvo XC40 with all its technology and safety and prevention systems. This is a very practical small city and off-road car. And after you’re out on the city streets, you get to charming rural parts of Ecuador.
The Jimny has four-wheel drive the size it paints, it’s a very practical four-wheel drive thanks to the AllGrip Pro traction control system, which can take anyone to some places they probably shouldn’t go.
In my opinion, the biggest limitation for this off-road vehicle is the ground clearance. I consider it to be low under those trailing arms. Because they are mounted directly on the chassis and there is simply no way around it. However, in the aftermarket to the rescue you can get some good skid plates to go underneath, and your Jimmy will act as a slide.
On a decent set-up, the suspension can also be modified on the aftermarket. A two-inch lift or a basic suspension lift will help, mostly to firm it up for a smoother ride. With a little lift it will be a big improvement to the overall handling of this vehicle, rather than more aggressive tires. It’s not a track car, so if it bounces slightly as you drive along the track, and that’s fine, that’s normal for this segment. Where it’s not very good is at high speed and don’t use it for sharp turns in city corners and the like. The fording capacity is up to 300 mm. If you want to pass rivers and deep-water sources, it will be necessary to raise it a bit or make sure that the depth does not exceed the limits of this off-roader.
Now talking about the gearing it’s not great, I’ll be honest now on the road it makes the peak power around 4000 rpm really seems to come alive when it gets there. This vehicle is petrol, and you must drive it as such. It’s not a double cab diesel truck. So, when you go off-road you must keep the engine revs within the range where it can push, otherwise it won’t go forward. Remember, it’s a petrol vehicle and you must drive it like a petrol vehicle.
We have shared enough to learn and get to know this fun vehicle. Where it has always made us smile. This vehicle feels best off-road in its natural habitat: open fields and off-road. It is a vehicle that has made a great impression on us, taking it everywhere from the streets of Guayaquil to the slopes and downhills in the province of Loja. Seeing how much equipment we were able to fit in the back and I think you could fit even more now, what would you change? Well, I’d like to see a little higher and a little firmer suspension. A more off-road focused and suitable off-road rubber. It’s certainly a good little off roader, maybe not for everyone because of its price and size, but one thing I’m very sure of is that whoever has it will have as much fun with it as we do.