Ready to put the Jimny 5-door through its paces as part of the inaugural Jimny Gathering in Clarens, our Editor Damian Adams details his experiences with the more versatile off-roader.
“The cold will wake you up” they said. This was however not the case as after a long day on the road and the afternoon and evening activities we slept like someone had spiked our dinner. Waking up just in time to scoff down a delicious camp breakfast (Frisco, bacon, eggs and toast) and meet the others at the 4×4 trail leading into the Golden Gate Highlands National park. We spent a great deal of time deflating our tyres using an old-school manual gauge in preparation for a trail that is deemed up to a level 3 in places. I had the pleasure of having two Japanese delegates as my passengers in the back of ‘my’ Blueish Black 5-door. With four adults onboard the Jimny sailed up and back down the three-hour long course with low range engaged with acceptable head, knee, toe and shoulder room for all onboard.
The 5-door does have less impressive on-paper approach, departure and breakover angles compared with its pint-sized sibling but with an identical ground clearance it made light work of the rocks, dongas and slippery inclines and declines of the trail. There was one particularly gnarly section where the vehicle felt as though it had bottomed out but after a quick peek under the nose the downward-facing tow hook was the only part that looked to have made contact with the boulders below. Thankfully Mr Suzuki enjoyed spotting some Buffalo, so he forgave me for lightly damaging his car without hesitation.
We enjoyed climbing what felt like the top of the Golden Gate Highlands reserve and we even got to enjoy some wildlife spotting too while putting the 5-door through its paces. After the adrenaline-filled 3-hour 4×4 course, we prepared for a visit to the Suzuki Safari Town which was erected in Clarens. Safari Town successfully brought everyone together in the name of Jimny and roads were cordoned off so that Jimny lovers from far and wide could feast their eyes on the spectacle. Of course, driving the 5-door meant I was constantly engaged by Suzuki owners regarding the size. “What’s it like compared to the 3-door? “Is the boot bigger? How much power does this one have? May I sit at the back quickly?” And so forth – this was extremely exciting, and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing in the joy of the Jimny this weekend. Our night ended on a more sombre note and the campfires were promptly extinguished, the last bit of “Klippies & Coke” thrown out onto the grass, and camping chairs packed up after the Bokke unceremoniously lost to Ireland.
All was not lost though (despite the weak performance from the Bokke), the main event happened the very next morning, and this was enough to lift even the lowest spirits. There was a total of 796 Suzuki Jimny owners from across South Africa who attended the official Jimny Gathering, and this is where each Jimny shone in all its glory.
Each one had a unique character, shimmer, modification and spare wheel cover yet one thing that they all had in common was that they brought almost 800 owners together #BecauseJimny. This was a wonderful way to celebrate Heritage Day as everyone came together to enjoy great food from the amazing vendors, drinks, music and entertainment. Unfortunately, we couldn’t braai because the area was on a level 5 fire warning, but there were many yummy things to indulge in during the afternoon.
And of course, we were part of breaking a new Guinness World Record: the most vehicles to switch their headlights on simultaneously. The fact that all of these vehicles were Jimnys just made the attempt that more special. The evening concluded with some more festivities and celebrations at the Safari Town Square with Black Heidi, Mango Groove, Goodluck and Spoegwolf to name a few. It’s safe to say that each person left feeling like they could add this achievement to their CVs because the experience was that sensational.
A number of people left after the official gathering on Sunday, but we stayed and thoroughly enjoyed exploring Clarens before calling it a night. We then enjoyed a very relaxing 3-hour 27-minute drive to SASA in Johannesburg where we reluctantly handed back the key to our Blueish Black 5-door.
Over the entire Safari Festival and Jimny Gathering weekend, we had covered some 600 km in over 19 hours of driving and managed a respectable 8,26 L/100 km (12,1 km/L according to the trip computer). Read the CAR December 2023 issue for the full Jimny 5-door review.