Simple tech: why the Suzuki Jimny is like a Rubik’s Cube

Bass Lake Adventures 12

The Rubik’s Cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. Back in the day old man Ernő worked at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest and it is widely reported that the Cube was built as a teaching tool to help his students understand 3D objects. Solving the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart was the Cubes initial purpose. He did not realize that he had created a puzzle until the first time he scrambled his new Cube and then tried to restore it.

Hang on, this is a car tech website. What are you on about?!

OK, bear with me. You see, we live in an age of technological advancement, where smartphones, tablets, even wearable technology are becoming commonplace, an age where the CD will be soon be old fashioned, never mind the audio cassette. Technology rules our lives, but (and you might laugh) there will always be a place in society for simple technology and nothing sums this up better than Ernő Rubik’s Cube. Some say the Rubik’s Cube is the world’s best selling toy. 350-million and counting.

Alright already! What does this frustratingly colourful quadrate have to do with cars?

Well, having driven the Suzuki Jimny for a week, the best analogy I could come up with to adequately describe this little off-roader was the Rubik’s Cube. Allow me to explain. This diminutive 4×4 has a very simple product mix, which like the Rubik’s Cube, has essentially been around since the 70s: Take a little box, add a small capacity engine, make sure it’s a plucky little engine, add four-wheel drive, add a low-range transfer case to that, add petrol…enjoy. That’s it!

“plucky – adjective
1. Having or showing courage or resolution in the face of difficulties”

So, is the four-wheel drive system at least a little techy?

Kind of, but not really. It’s simple and simple 4×4 tech is good when you’re out being Mr Camel Man, clearing your own road or driving up a mountain. Electronics are all good and well and make life really easy, none more so than on 4x4s, but should some of that precious wiring go ZZZWAP… well good luck.

There is no electrical malarkey in the Jimny. Ok, so you don’t have to actually get out the car and physically lock the hubs (thank goodness). Instead what you get are three buttons on the upright dashboard just ahead of the gear lever marked 2WD, 4WD and 4WD-L. Simple really, 2WD is for normal driving and is rear-wheel drive, 4WD is for dirty slippery roads and gentle off-road stuff and 4WD-L, as the ‘L’ suggests is for dinkum low range, I’m-going-to-drive-up-a-mountain, stuff.

Power comes from a 4-cylinder 1328cc petrol engine good for 63kW and 110Nm. Might sound a bit naff but combined with a kerb weight of just over a tonne, the Jimny punches way above its weight. I spent a day at a 4×4 course going up and down some seriously hairy slopes and the Jimny just ate it up. In fact it made it look all too easy.

Don’t believe me, check this out:

So what is like to drive when you’re not driving through the middle of nowhere?

If you thrash the little 4-cylinder engine (and it is happy to be thrashed) you can hog the fast lane quite easily in the Jimny. But I wouldn’t advise it. Let the window down (via electric motors I might add) and sling your arm out and wave by the traffic built up behind you, as you go about business, slowly.

The Suzuki Jimny does everything you need it to do. It has a CD/Radio, power windows and mirrors and air conditioning. OK, the rear is a little cramped and if your family is bigger than just you and the missus then, yes I will concede you might have to look at something bigger. Sure, it hops and skips around on tar roads, the gear lever shakes and the drivetrain audibly buzzes into the cabin, but it’s still totally charming.

Very little has changed on the Jimny since the 70s, yes, it’s had to move with the times and incorporate a few modern changes but the essence of the original is still exactly the same. Kind of like the Rubik’s Cube, it’s a simple (in tech not execution) and it’s fun, and there will always be a place in our society for uncomplicated technology…sometimes even in cars.



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