An Endeavour owner takes his Jimny to Leh: Overall driving experience

I just re-read what I wrote and realized that I haven't really anything bad to say about the Jimny.

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A critical look at the Jimny driving experience

Day 4 was a designated break-day at Leh. A few of the travelers were first-timers to Ladakh and deserved a sight-seeing around Leh, one of us had to break away from the trip and return for a personal engagement and most importantly, the three back-to-back drives deserved a breather in between, before we headed into rarified air.

I feel, this would be a good opportunity for me to get into a more critical description of the Jimny, having covered approximately 900 kms over flat lands and hills. Truth be told, the sections after Leh were so involving, a totally objective review may not be possible, so let me do it while the others discover Leh.

Let's start with luggage capacity:

I have never really wanted to fix a roof-top carrier as a personal preference, so whatever luggage we had for three, had to go into the boot. Our last major overland was done in our (now sold) Endeavour, and with the third row folded flat luggage capacity was nothing short of a rugby flied. We are light packers anyway and luggage for three was restricted to two backpacks (40+20 litres), a shoe bag, a carton of emergency kit and the 20L jerry can.
When I swung open the boot door with all of these gathered on the floor, the task looked daunting. But as you can note from the photo in the first post, they all went in peachy and then sat snug under the cargo net stretched between the wall hooks. The luggage never rose above the rear sightline, so I'm guessing that a fourth person and his luggage would also have gone in at a push. So, luggage capacity is adequate if you are a frugal traveler.

From the driving seat

There have been more than enough written on this, but this is a purely personal angle. I'm tall and not very heavily built (not skinny either). I prefer my seat close to the steering for an elbows-bent position and my palms are almost always at 10-to-2 on the wheel. I find this allows me all-day driving capability without any major discomfort.

The Jimny has a few design problems for the above setup. First, no wheel reach adjustment - this means at my preferred position, my legs will get splayed out on either side. The right knee doesn't complain, but the left one taps into the center console. This isn't as bad as some cars can get, and after a while, I could ignore it easily. The seats themselves (front) aren't the widest, either for the back or for the bottom. But the fabric and the cushioning must be really well-engineered. All-day driving didn't produce any fatigue, there were no periodic calls from the body to get out and stretch and since the car doesn't exactly produce massive G-force around corners, bolstering works just fine. The abnormally tall headrest isn't the best for shorter passengers and they may request a neck-bolstering pillow.

The ICE and it's lack of physical controls is the next bugbear. At the very least, a nice round volume dial would've been an improvement over the touch-screen or steering toggle, which aren't the most intuitive or responsive. But while on the steering, I'd have to say that the control stalks on either side are a masterclass in simplicity and function. I put a lot of importance in how cars are designed for ergonomics, and it is clear how far apart a Suzuki stands from a lot of our homegrown brands and many foreign ones as well. They are so easy to activate even with your ring finger or pinky, without an mm of movement of your palms on the wheel. Extremely well damped, so lane-change indications are never a hit/miss. The large, accessible hazard warning button, the superbly sized and damped A/C controls (manual in the Zeta, mind it), everything shouts an attention to detail that belies the initial impression. It's suddenly apparent that the large touchscreen ICE was a much later addition and hence it falls afoul of the general ergos.

Appreciating the Jimny on open highways, is an acquired art. I got that much from my initial days. Now, a good 2k kms into the car, the engine and gearbox seems to be working out their kinks as we speed northbound at 100 kmph. The shift is no longer as notchy as when new. It isn't buttery..more like baked cheesecake. The engine runs at 3000 RPM or a smidge below and isn't loud at all. You don't even need the music or a loud conversation to try and mask it. And the ride is sheer comfort, both back and front, until you inattentively hit an unruly patch and the rear might step out just a bit. I guess here's where the damped steering and the slow old world system come into play. The car is easy to bring back into line and never does the wheel wrench at your hands.

When the climbs began after Udhampur, a few newer facets emerged. I have no direct recent comparison other than the Endeavour on these roads, so I'll use that as a template. The contrast couldn't be more stark - barge-like extremities to the little tugboat here. Twice the power output and more than thrice the torque from a turbo diesel to boot. 6 speed Auto, 5-link rear suspension, IFS, full-time get the picture. The Endeavour would ferry all on-board in complete bliss. If you wanted to, you could simply tilt back and sleep through the entire journey (and I've had my fellow-travelers subject me to that irritation before). Not so the Jimny.

This one wants you and your passengers in the 'here and now'. It's like being at a football match and not the opera. You can't just tip the shift into one cog or the other and think it'll chug its way up like a powerful diesel. And you'll not rest easy behind a smoky truck because you know there simply isn't enough room or opportunity to pass it till it allows you to. No Sir. From inside the narrow Suzuki, you're always scanning the gaps and the road 50m ahead. There's always a gap and there's always a cog to take it. Intent is the name of the game!

You know what - I just re-read what I wrote and realized that I haven't really anything bad to say about the Jimny. Sorry. It's just that I hadn't had anything to criticise up till Leh. But it wasn't all hunky-dory all the way. Things were about to change..

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