Weeks ago, off road enthusiasts in India got their hopes up after a Japanese business daily revealed that Maruti Suzuki would build the Jimny in India, and export it to countries around the world. This is not the first time that such reports have surfaced in the business media. However, enthusiasts will be disappointed to learn that Maruti Suzuki’s engineering head, Mr. CV Raman, has once again reiterated that the Jimny is not viable for India, and he just confirmed this to ACP.
Here’s what he said when asked about the Suzuki Jimny off roader’s feasibility for the Indian market,
The three-door is a very niche segment in India. What is required for India is a five-door model. That means we have to do a new development, which would require time and cost. The possible volume against the required investment does not make sense for us.
Suzuki introduced the 3 door, short wheelbase version of the 4th generation Jimny last year in Japan and other international markets. A five door version is said to be in the works but a clear timeline for the longer wheelbase model’s market introduction has not been revealed yet. When launched, the long wheelbase Jimny will be the first in four generations as previous generations of the off roader have stuck religiously to the short wheelbase layout, which gave them great agility and performance off the road. While the five door model will be a lot more practical for everyday use, it may not have the ‘mountain goat’ characteristics of the 3 door version while off roading.
With that, it’s now likely that the Maruti Gypsy will not get a replacement in India anytime soon. Maruti has discontinued the Gypsy, and is only taking specific and limited orders from the armed forces. From 2020, even orders from the armed forces are unlikely to be accepted. What this means is, off road enthusiasts looking for a petrol engined 4X4 will have no options in the sub-Rs. 20 lakh segments. Only the likes of the Jeep Wrangler – priced at over 60 lakhs – and the Mercedes Benz G63 AMG – priced at over a couple of crores – now offer a a body on ladder chassis and a 4 wheel drive layout with low range in India. Affordable options such as the Mahindra Thar and the Force Gurkha 4X4 are diesel powered. There’s some talk about Mahindra offering a petrol engine in the next-generation Thar, due to make its debut next year. Off roaders will now have to look at that option.