Despite huge global demand, Singaporean buyers can count themselves among the lucky ones with our waitlist time approximately half that of Japan’s itself
Very rarely does a new car come along that receives such universal adoration; especially one that isn’t expensive, luxurious, fast, or Italian.
Yet that’s exactly the scenario the new Suzuki Jimny finds itself in, which was launched in Singapore last month. In fact, so intense is the demand for the cute but very capable off-roader that if you put in an order for one today in Japan, you’d be lucky to take delivery one year from now.
That is what we learned in an interview with Shuji Oishi (below), managing officer for Global Automobile Marketing at Suzuki Motor Corporation.
“We were producing about four or five thousand of the previous generation Jimny a month. But for the current one we had to increase our production capacity to seven thousand per month – and that is still not enough!” revealed Mr Oishi.
For buyers in Singapore, the situation is thankfully less severe, according to Borneo Motors’ marketing director, Samuel Yong. “We had two customers place orders at the launch, and they will receive their cars by September this year,” he said.
It’s not just the punters who are in love with the Jimny, but the critics, too. At the start of the year, the Jimny was crowned the 2019 World Urban Car at the World Car Awards.
For Mr Oishi, this was a major surprise. “For the last two-years, we nominated city cars as our candidates, the Swift and Ignis, but didn’t win, only finished top three. For the Jimny, our focus for developing the car was not for urban use, it was more for off-road. But finally we got the award!” he exclaimed.
But what is it about the Jimny that makes it a great car for the urban jungle?
Mr Yong reckons the factors are ingrained into the Jimny’s DNA: “If we look at an urban car, first of all it needs to be compact. Secondly, the car must be very agile and maneuverable, and the Jimny has one of the smallest turning circles around. Thirdly, you also have good fuel efficiency because of the small engine capacity. So if you ask why a Jimny can succeed both as a true 4×4 and also as an urban car, it’s because the Jimny has the right DNA.”
So if Mr Oishi could choose one Jimny to keep, between the Japan-only 660cc kei-car version or the 1.5-litre global version (known as the Jimny Sierra in Japan), which would it be? “In Japan due to the tax regulations, about 60 percent of sales are for the kei-car model. But many people, myself included, want the 1.5-litre version!”