Ever since the Maruti-Suzuki Jimny was showcased at the AutoExpo in February 2020, people have been relentless as when will the capable little thing make its debut here. The carmaker had clarified that it was on display to gauge the crowd’s response and the decision to launch it or not will be taken after that. The response prior to the SUV being parked on Indian soil was full of enthusiasm and has been just the same even after the event. However, before getting to it, some things need to be made clear.
The current, fourth-generation Suzuki Jimny has been on sale worldwide since 2018. While there are two versions of the Jimny on sale in Japan – the standard model and the Sierra, the European market just has the latter. The standard Japan-spec Jimny meets that country’s requirements to qualify as a Kei car which has a 660cc petrol engine and is 3.4m long. The wider, Suzuki Jimny Sierra (which from now on will be referred to as the Euro-spec Jimny) gets a bit of body cladding that makes it a bit bigger, nearly 3.6 metre long and comes with a larger 1.5-litre K-series petrol engine.
The Jimny has had somewhat a sensational sales run in markets abroad. So large has been the demand that the waiting period for one has been exceeding more than six months. This is because as of now, the Jimny is manufactured only in Japan’s Kosai facility. The plant has now reached its full capacity and Suzuki is in dire needs to expand its production capacity. And that’s where India and Maruti Suzuki come into the picture.
To supplement production from Kosai, Suzuki is said to be setting up a new assembly line for the Jimny at its plant in Hansalpur, Gujarat, where it has unutilised capacity. Hence, large export volumes are what will give Maruti Suzuki the economies of scale needed to make the Jimny viable for production in India. Local manufacture is said to commence in the second-half of 2020, with the first six months of production meant exclusively for exports.
The Euro-version, Jimny Sierra, will be manufactured and exported to the international markets. The Indian spec, however, will be a lot different than that the international spec. For the Indian market, Maruti-Suzuki is reported to be developing a 5-door SUV with a longer wheelbase which will cater to a larger audience, ideal for family buyers as well and thus making it viable for the Indian market.
Even after a stretched wheelbase, the overall length of the India-spec Jimny is expected to stay under 4 metre which will make it in the same league as that of the Vitara Brezza. However, it will be interesting to see whether or not the stretched dimensions and longer wheelbase could impact the off-road capabilities of the SUV.
Crucial aspects of the car can be expected to remain the same. This means that the Indian version of the car will be built on a ladder-frame chassis. It will feature rigid axles on both ends and send power to all four wheels with a low-range transfer case. However, there is also speculation that Maruti might offer a front-wheel drive for its base variant.
In terms of powertrains, it will be offered with the same 1.5 litre K15B petrol engine as the international model. This engine is also offered in the Indian market with the Ciaz, Ertiga and the newly launched Vitara Brezza facelft. This engine generates about 105 hp of maximum power and 138 NM of peak torque. However,in the international version, the engine generates slightly lower numbers than these. It is likely to be paired with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed torque converter as optional, similar to the Vitara Brezza.
Even though the Indian model will likely be a sub-4 metre SUV, it will lose out on the ‘small-car’ tax sops since it uses a 1.5 litre petrol engine. Even so, Maruti may target a sub-Rs 10 lakh price tag for the model. There will be some price overlap with Maruti’s other compact SUV, the Vitara Brezza, but given their fundamental differences, the two SUVs will cater to very different buyers. While the Brezza caters to people who seek the luxury of an SUV in an affordable budget, the Jimny will focus on buyers who are off-roading enthusiasts. To add further distinction to the package, Maruti could retail the Jimny from its premium Nexa outlets. The Jimny will fill the void left by the Maruti Gypsy, when it was discontinued for public in 2018.
Production for the 5-door version is expected to commence six months after production of its 3-door version will commence in June for exports solely. The Jimny will not have a like-for-like rival purely because of its dimension as an off-roader. However, once it goes on floor, it will compete against the likes of Mahindra Thar and Force Gurkha. The new-gen Thar and Gurkha are expected to go on sale later this year. What makes us a little skeptical about the Jimny’s introduction in India is the fact that a few months prior to the Expo, Maruti Suzuki had announced that the Jimny won’t go on sale here. So the sudden change in plans has us thinking. We’d wait until we see the car in flesh and gladly rub our eyes. We hope we do.