Exploring Limpopo in a Suzuki Jimny

By Miles Downard

My last adventure in a Jimny came late in 2021 when we explored the wondrous Northern Cape over four days, taking the road less traveled, or in some cases no road at all, which really showed off the Jimny’s 4×4 prowess.

A revelation that was announced to us on that trip was that Suzuki has started production of the Jimny in their Maruti plant in India. What this means is that the previous shortage of Jimnys is a thing of the past. Suzuki SA has plans to sell 300 units per month so we should be seeing Jimnys far more regularly on South African roads. 

Over the December and January period I was allowed an extended test period with a Jimny – and the obvious thing to do was to go on another adventure. We have family on a farm in Limpopo, which would prove an ideal home base for a bit of region exploring. So with the rear seats folded flat – a feature of this GLX model – we loaded our bags, Christmas presents and a camping fridge and set off on the 5 hour journey from Johannesburg to Bandelierkop. 

The Jimny’s 1.5 litre petrol motor produces 71kW and 150Nm. It might not sound like much but keeps the Jimny at a comfortable cruise on the open road at the national speed limit. A strong crosswind can blow the upright, boxy shape around a little bit. 

Just on the other side of Polokwane we decided to take a detour in the spirit of taking the road less travelled. Off the N1, in high range 4×4 mode, on a quiet dirt road the Jimny felt far more at home. The area was stunning, green and lush thanks to unusually high rainfall. This also meant the road conditions were patchy at best, with thick mud sections and a few water crossings. No sweat for the Jimny though.

Over the course of our stay we traversed the region from Bandelierkop to Lesheba Wilderness Reserve near Louis Trichardt and on to the small settlement known as Munnik, using dirt roads as far as possible. Given the amount of rain over December, we were obviously caught in a number of heavy downpours and extremely muddy conditions. The Jimny never skipped a beat nor left us feeling like we might get stuck. 

On one particularly sunny day we loaded up the back with our camping fridge and some picnic goods then traveled up the dry riverbed of the local Sand River for a spot of lunch. With lowered tyre pressures and 4×4 engaged, the Jimny floated over the sand as though it were a boat in water. 

What I learned over the December holiday period is that there really are very few scenarios in which the Jimny is out of its depth. It works on a city commute or a long distance, multi day trip through some of the country’s most rugged terrain. This is a car that’ll take you to the most wondrous, remote places for adventures of a lifetime and it won’t break the bank doing so with an asking price starting at around R320,000.

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