But with all the hype around the happy-go-lucky 4×4, fewer people know that there is more than one version on sale. For Japanese people, at least.
To be sold as a kei car in Japan the JB64-designated Jimny exists without wheel arch flares, features smaller bumpers, and is fitted with a downsized engine to appease Japan’s strict rules. The omission of the wider bumpers and flares allows the junior Jimny to comply with Japan’s kei-car class dimensions.
The kei car category exists in Japan to accommodate micro-sized cars which cost far less than conventional-sized cars. Diminutive in both size and price, kei cars are also subject to tax and insurance benefits.
Because road tax is based on engine size in Japan, the annual levy on the 1.5-litre Jimny would cost 34,500 yen (AU$367). The smaller kei-sized Jimny road tax is substantially more affordable at 7200 yen (AU$77).
Regulations have changed multiple times since the category was introduced in 1949, but current guidelines stipulate a maximum vehicle length of 3400mm, a maximum width of 1480mm, and a maximum height of 2000mm.
Engine sizes are restricted to 660cc with a capped 47kW power output.
The normal JB74 Suzuki Jimny Sierra we are sold in Australia falls afoul of these rules in Australia which is why the JB64 Suzuki Jimny kei car exists in Japan.
|Dimensions||JB64 Jimny kei car||JB74 Jimny Sierra|
|Engine size||658cc turbocharged three-cylinder||1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder|
Of course, the Jimny kei car is also more affordable to purchase too. Entry-level pricing for the JB64 Jimny in Japan starts at 1,654,400 yen (AU$17,550) whereas the JB74 Jimny kicks off from 1,962,400 yen (AU$20,813).
They may be subtle differences between the two, but they’re important enough to allow the kei-sized JB64 Jimny to capitalise on a variety of cost savings. This is why the kei car remains a popular car class in Japan.
Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.