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Taking the Suzuki Jimny 5-Door to Lake Mapanuepe

You don’t have to sacrifice rear seats for cargo space

The fleet of Jimnys was lined up at the dealer. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Rear seats or cargo space? That’s the dilemma of every Suzuki Jimny owner. I realized that after driving one with a relative to Batangas during a long weekend. However, with the introduction of the five-door model, that isn’t as much of an issue anymore.

The interior space is a big step up coming from the three-door Jimny. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

A month after the launch, Suzuki Philippines allowed us to experience its latest off-roader for a media drive to Lake Mapanuepe in Zambales. With three people in the vehicle, we departed from Suzuki Auto Caloocan and passed through NLEX and SCTEX before having lunch in Subic. During this stint, I took the opportunity to stay in the back seat.


I was pleasantly surprised that the rear row was just as spacious as that of an ordinary car. It’s not business class, but at least there’s enough legroom so that my knees aren’t pressed against the front seats. While there’s no need to fold down the rear seats for cargo space, it doesn’t mean you can cram everything and the kitchen sink behind.

With the cockpit and the button layout, it is apparent the car was designed first and foremost for off-roading, with creature comforts being secondary.

Good luck sharing the single USB port among the occupants. In-cabin storage options are bare-bones. Finding a resting spot for your phone is challenging when you can’t leave it by the armrest.

The cupholders are located at the center console behind the handbrake. But there are only two, as none of the four doors can accommodate a tumbler.

The tray below the switches isn't wide enough for two phones. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The window switches are located on opposite ends. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The rear-window switches are hard to reach for the driver. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The armrests don't have any form of storage. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Power windows should be a basic function for any modern vehicle. But the placement of the switches complicated things. As with the three-door model, the ones for the front are located below the air-conditioning controls—on opposite ends.

Meanwhile, the switches for the rear are located behind the handbrake (and also at the rear doors). This means the driver will have to take his or her attention off the wheel just to open or close the windows.

Thankfully, the lack of rear vents isn’t problematic since the compact cabin cools down pretty quickly once the air-conditioning gets running. And the nine-inch infotainment system of the GLX variant has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While it’s not a stretch to say that up to four people can comfortably fit inside the five-door Jimny, the same can’t be said for their phones, power banks, and drinks—items you’d most likely bring on a road trip. It felt weird not having a place to conveniently store simple belongings.

The Jimny isn’t at home on the expressway. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Fuel economy on the expressway ranged from 14-15km/L when traveling at 80-100km/h (with air-conditioning and normal driving behavior). Upon arriving at Subic, the vehicle was refueled with 11L of gasoline after traveling 150km. This equates to a fuel efficiency of 13.64km/L with the brief city driving.

A quick stop before the fun began. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

After the stopover, there was still more than 40km to go before reaching the lake. I got my hands behind the wheel and experienced the car while on the road. If you were hoping for a pocket rocket, then you’d be disappointed.

Visibility is good thanks to the upright A-pillars. But the engine power is lacking especially when overtaking, and turning the car felt sluggish and spongy due to the recirculating-ball steering.

The Jimny shines when there’s no pavement. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

However, once the pavement ended, the lethargic steering was actually beneficial as it helped keep the vehicle under control. And the 4WD system made sure there was enough traction on loose and uneven surfaces. The five-door Jimny was no rally car, but it was a solid ride capable of hauling up three people to the campsite at Lake Mapanuepe and back.

The author reached the lake in time for golden hour. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The trail leading to Lake Mapanuepe was far from technical, even for a first-timer like me. But what made the experience memorable was seeing the wide-open landscape—as if we were in a video game like Forza Horizon.

Despite all the nitpicks mentioned about the car, none of those mattered on the way back—kicking up dust one last time, while driving off into the sunset after a long day.

Driving off into the sunset. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

To conclude, if you just need a car for normal usage, then you’d be better off with a hatchback or a crossover. The quirky handling, the underpowered engine, and the inconvenient cabin don’t justify getting a Suzuki Jimny that will never set foot on dirt.

If you need the off-roading capability and will be traveling with a plus-one at most, then you’ll save more money with the three-door model—especially when the price difference is at least P300,000.

However, if you’d like to hit the trail with a small family or barkada, then you and your companions can have a good time with the Jimny 5-Door.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.