The Suzuki Jimny started with humble beginnings as a car that combines no-frills mobility with some serious off-roading. Some might remember an era when Suzuki Malaysia was officially selling the 3rd generation model at RM 82k for a mere three years before the Japanese carmaker pulled out of Malaysia.
Fast forward to 2021, we were as excited when the news broke out about Suzuki re-entering our shores under Naza Eastern Motors. Just this month, Naza had reintroduced the Jimny, with proper off-road ready features, and lots of user friendly tech. But at a retail price of RM 169k, we reckon that there are several worthy alternatives for you to consider when the going gets tough.
1. Land Rover Defender (1949 - 2016)
The Land Rover Defender is Land Rover’s longest selling model, and with minimal changes towards its design over the 67 years of its production, it arguably started its cult following in the off-road community. Want a full-sized SUV and not a pickup? Simply add the roof extension on its back. Want to get that raw off-road experience? Simply unbolt the doors and you’ve got yourself a Jeep Gladiator lookalike. You could even remove the windshield just by undoing a couple of screws.
Most Defenders listed in the used market start from the 1983 model year, with the 90 model being the 2-door, and the 110 model as the 4-door pickup, or even a full station wagon. With prices starting from RM40,000, it is asking a quarter of what the Jimny is going for and is a steal considering that later Defenders are starting to fetch upwards of RM150,000 due to its rarity. However, we would recommend going for any Defender after 1990 because this was when Land Rover introduced the Discovery and most owners would swap in the Discovery’s mechanicals into the Defender to make it a little more drivable on road.
If you have a little more cash to splash, then a seasoned Landy owner would tell you that models built after 2007 are the most desirable as those models were fitted with Ford’s Puma engine up until 2016. These models offer the most creature comforts and should withstand rust much better than older models thanks to modern techniques of assembling and painting. These more recent models start from RM 100k, but being a cult classic as it is, the prices come down to willing buyer willing seller.
2. Land Rover Discovery Series II (1998-2004)
While the Defender is a full-on utility vehicle built for the most punishing terrains, the Disco Series II makes its case in our list by being built to be both a family and utility car. Like the Defender, the Series II is also built on a ladder frame, but it uses the Range Rover’s underpinnings making it much easier to live with, while not compromising on its off-roading abilities. The Disco offers a generous amount of space, with seating of up to 7 adults (3 more than that of the Jimny) so you can take your whole family while still having space at the back to carry your camping and cooking equipment over a weekend trip in our forests. The Series II can be yours for just RM14,000, while well-kept examples can be had for under RM40,000.
With the RM120,000 you have saved for not getting a Jimny, you could splash a little on some tasteful modifications to bring out its rugged nature, such as a kangaroo bar or a snorkel, or perhaps even a roof rack. You could then use the balance left for an inter-continental drive to the United Kingdom (or anywhere your heart desires), which could well be the trip of a lifetime, knowing that your Series II will get you there.
3. Suzuki Jimny JLX JB43 (2013-2016)
If you insist on owning a Jimny, you could opt for the third generation model that was sold by Suzuki Malaysia between 2013 and 2016. Considering its short sales period, there were not many examples that made it to our market as most buyers preferred more, sensible models from the brand such as the Swift that offered more space, nimble handling, decent economy and a period-correct interior. This made the previous Jimny become somewhat a unicorn. During these 3 years, buyers could choose between a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic transmission, both of which are equipped with a 4×4 system and a low range mode that can be operated on the fly at a push of a button.
We prefer the manual transmission version as its steel rims do give the car a more rugged look and are arguably more durable off-roading than the alloys found on the automatic version. As far as safety is concerned, you would still get the essential dual airbags along with ABS and EBD, but you will lose out on ESP when compared to the current model. At the time of writing, the Jimny JLX unsurprisingly has not depreciated much as the examples that appear in the used car market are going for RM70,000 – RM80,000.
4. Toyota Fortuner KUN60 (2005-2015)
For an entire decade, UMW Toyota offered the original Fortuner which is the sister of the Toyota Hilux pickup truck. Similar to the Disco Series II, the Fortuner could also carry up to 7 onboard and was offered with either a 2.5 turbodiesel or a 2.7 petrol engine. Earlier models received a 5-speed manual option until 2009 when the Fortuner underwent its first facelift.
While the Fortuner has gone through 4 updates over its lifespan, its engines remained mostly unchanged, apart from the introduction of Toyota’s VNT system for the diesel model in the 2012 update. Unlike the other cars in this list, the Fortuner is more common, making it a “safe” choice in terms of parts availability. Prices range between RM35,000 – Rm100,000 depending on the model year and could be a good choice for those seeking to purchase this car on loan. Like the Hilux, the Fortuner is also built on a traditional ladder frame design coupled with leaf springs on the back. It also benefits from the same part-time 4WD system and low range mode.
And so you have it. Our suggestions of alternatives to Naza’s Jimny that could be had for much more sensible prices. Which one do you like the most? Was there any that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by: Kenneth Wooi