Two year ago, Indian off-road enthusiasts got really excited when news reports suggested that India would be a production hub for the all-new Jimny. The new Jimny was also said to be a replacement to the Gypsy – a 33 year old veteran off-roader that’s still on sale here. The new Jimny is just months, or probably weeks away,from an official unveil globally. CV Raman, the engineering head at Maruti Suzuki, explains the status of the new Jimny so far as the Indian market is concerned.
In an interview to AutoX, here’s what Mr. Raman said when asked about the new Jimny’s prospects for India,
The issue for us is that globally the Jimny is a three-door vehicle – something that doesn’t work in India. At the end of the day, the Indian customer wants a 5-door vehicle for practical reasons. We’ve not been able to arrive to a definite conclusion. The feedback from the market has not been positive. What people want is a 5-door vehicle, which we don’t have. Also, the Jimny is a narrow vehicle, so width is also an issue. The current Gypsy is a wide-track vehicle. But, I think, from a lifestyle perspective, there is some potential.
Totally ruled out? Not at all!
Mr. Raman, while explaining why the new, 3 door Jimny may not really be what the market wants in India, also says that there is potential for the SUV as a ‘lifestyle vehicle’. Think Mahindra Thar, Isuzu V-Cross; both vehicles that are marginal sellers when compared to other mass market cars but still viable for their respective automakers for brand-building and offering something different to car buyers. Mr. Raman hasn’t ruled out the Jimny for India and this is something that off-road enthusiasts can cling to as a ray of hope.
A 5 door Jimny is on its way…
Since Mr. Raman’s hinted that the 3 door Jimny isn’t suitable for India, there’s nothing stopping Maruti from bringing in the longer, 5 door version of the off roader, which is said to be under development. Yes, Suzuki is putting together a 5 door version of the Jimny as a more practical alternative to the 3 door model, and that version could just tick all the right boxes for the Indian market. India could even be used as a production hub for the 5 door model, for markets around the globe.
Don’t expect it anytime soon though…
The longer version of the Jimny is yet to be spotted testing, and even for the international market, the bigger Jimny isn’t expected anytime before 2019. What this means is, even if Maruti brings the 5 door Jimny to the Indian market, it won’t be before 2020. That also brings the Bharat Stage 6 emission norms into the picture, which means that a diesel engine under the hood is unlikely for such a low volume vehicle. Expect the longer Jimny to be petrol powered, as and when launched in India.