Suzuki's off-road specialist Jimny wins ... Urban Car of the Year award?
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The organisation behind World Car of the Year unveiled their list of finalists for 2019 back in February, and tucked among the 'Oscar gold' selections was that ever present, quirky little SUV from Suzuki.
Even criticism from NCAP and ANCAP following a pair of three-star safety rating judgements hasn't stopped Jimny fever from sweeping the world. As previously reported on Driven, the new Jimny is sold out here until November, and that follows similar trends in Europe.
The outright WCOTY title wound up (deservedly) going to the Jaguar I-Pace — the British EV earning the outright prize, along with the Green Car of the Year and Design of the Year sub-category awards.
The I-Pace is an undeniably logical winner of each of those awards. Less logical was the Suzuki Jimny's surprise clinching of the Urban Car of the Year gong.
Although we've only driven the Jimny off-road, it's not too far-fetched to label its driving experience ... errr ... agricultural. Combine that with those aforementioned safety troubles and a 75kW/130Nm naturally aspirated 1.5-litre K15B petrol engine linked to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto transmission, and you've got a package that doesn't seem particularly 'urban'.
To secure the win, the Jimny beat the other grand finalists; Hyundai's AH2 supermini, and the new Kia Soul. Both are much more refined and advanced machines, but despite this the organisation's 86 automotive journalist judges from 24 different countries sided in majority with the little Suzuki.
Perhaps the rationale is that, against a backdrop of cars that have continually bloated over the years, the Jimny has remained tight and compact. Its square, slab-sided shape also makes parallel parking a breeze.
We'll put the Jimny through its paces in an urban environment when we road test it next month. Watch this space.
"We at Suzuki are greatly honoured to receive this award," said Toshihiro Suzuki, director and president of Suzuki Motor Corp, reacting to the win.
"The Jimny is the one-and-only, compact, authentic off-roader, and we have kept true to this concept for almost 50 years. It now has many fans around the world, who enjoy its excellent performance and one-of-a-kind functional design, both on and off-road.
"We accept this award on behalf of our fans, as well as with pride and confidence in our passion to build exciting cars to be the foot of our customers everyday lives."