2023 Suzuki Jimny Rhino Edition review: Contractor, hipster, it doesn’t matter

Insert key, twist.

In an age when cars costing less than half its price could be started with a button, starting the Malaysian-spec Suzuki Jimny Rhino with a physical key sets the tone for an austere motoring experience.

But going back to basics is chic nowadays, even at RM175k.

Introduction: Small car, big appeal

After briefly appearing on this writer’s personal timeline, the number of DMs skyrocketed – I’m suddenly popular, with the car being the star. Most are attracted by the car’s good looks, with one sharing pictures of Jimnys modded to resemble another iconic off-roader, the G-Wagen.

A friend, who has owned the second-gen (SJ413) and third-gen (JB43) Jimny, is considering purchasing this car. As he spoke fondly about the practical, hose-down interior of his first Jimny, one can’t help but compare it to the fake nuts and bolts in the current generation’s interior – has the car lost its plot?

Engine1,462 cc; naturally-aspirated inline four
Transmission4-speed automatic
Max horsepower100 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max torque130 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
0-100 km/h; Top speedNA; 140 km/h
PriceRM 174,900

Suzuki Jimny Rhino Edition Exterior: Utilitarian is in fashion

Launched in June, the Suzuki Jimny Rhino comes with RM15k worth of cosmetic enhancements. The updated mesh grille, with the brand name emblazoned across, resembles the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, which inspired the popular Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Signature external features like the clamshell bonnet, exposed door hinges, fender flares, and boot-mounted spare wheel are all intact. Even roof drip rails made a comeback after being absent from the third generation.

The ‘Real Offroader’ decals on the car are head-scratchers, but Japanese car makers have never shied away from funny English terms. Remember the Toyota Picnic?

The Jimny makes no pretence about its utilitarian roots, with the body-coloured ladder frame chassis proudly peeking out from the generously spaced wheel well. Suzuki has resisted the trend of big wheels as well; the car is still on modest 15-inch wheels, shod with 195/80R15 Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 all-terrain tires.

Suzuki Jimny Rhino Edition Interior: No toys, no problem

The rudimentary pull-up type door handle opens up to a basic interior. Creature comforts are scarce – Apple Carplay/Android Auto, auto climate control, and cruise control barely count as luxuries. Blank buttons can be found throughout the cabin; the most glaring one is near the steering column, where the engine ignition button for most cars would be.

Suzuki has put in extra effort to make the instrument cluster look more simple, rugged, and old school. In place of the common cowled instrument cluster of the previous generation sits a chunky combo of speedometer and tachometer, with a red pixel-matrix display in the middle, showing only essential information. Simplicity has definitely worked in the Jimny’s favour here.

The fabric front seats are reasonably supportive, though they could do with a bit more side support to hold you in place – body roll is substantial around corners! The rear is strictly a two-passenger affair; the wheel arch protrusions are now a flat space almost level with the seat cushion, contributing significantly to passenger comfort.

Boot space behind the rear seats is virtually non-existent; the 50:50 rear seats need to be folded to carry anything bigger than a cabin bag. There’s also a removable box on the boot floor that could accommodate small items like umbrellas and slippers.

Suzuki Jimny Rhino Edition Driving Impression: Rides like a pickup, parks like a Kelisa

Though this car can sell based on its looks alone, it’s charming to drive as well. Drivers sit as high as most full-sized SUVs on the road with great all-around visibility. The 2-time Jimny owner reported improvements in terms of refinement, ride, and NVH. One of the reasons he’s so taken with this car is its ability to take on potholes, curbs, roadworks, and puddles with aplomb because of its high-profile tires and tough ladder frame chassis.

Having pickup-truck-level robustness in such a compact package is one of the biggest selling points of the Jimny. Manoeuvring busy streets is a joy with this car; the amount of space left after reversing into a parking spot is hilarious.

The 1.5-liter, naturally-aspirated engine (102 hp and 130 Nm) plus 4-speed auto transmission combo is archaic by today’s standards, but the gear ratios are well-spaced, enabling the car to reach 100 km/h with decent urge.

With such road manners, the downside is a floaty ride and significant body roll around corners – the Jimny has no intention of sporty driving. This is a car you drive at relaxing speeds with one arm hanging out – the height of the window sill is perfect for that.

Conclusion: Simplicity is still key

While many 4×4s have piled on more kit and metal over the years, the little Jimny refuses to grow up, literally and figuratively. Instead, it prefers to widen its appeal by adding charm to its utilitarian roots.

It hasn’t lost its plot, and its unorthodox approach has clearly worked. From stylish salon owners to adventurous creative directors, the car has gained a sizable following among those who want to be (seen) different, if they can afford the hefty price tag.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here