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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
1:00 AM 23rd September 2023
cars

Twisted Automotive’s Jimny On Test

 
I make no bones about the fact that I like the Suzuki Jimny. I have a good relationship with the manufacturer’s press office and have driven the car extensively both on and off road. In tough conditions, it excels due to a combination of light weight and a capable all-wheel drive system. I seriously contemplated buying one when it was still available as a four-seat passenger car.

So, why did I not splash the cash? Anyone who has driven a Jimny will know it is rather underpowered, its normally aspirated 1.5-litre engine can struggle, especially up hills and at motorway speeds. And then there’s the noise, both from wind and road, which can get rather tiring after a while. Handling, some might say fun, others might say compromised.

Step forward then Twisted Automotive, based in Thirsk, who after honing their considerable skills fettling and improving the Land Rover Defender for many years, have now turned their attention to the Jimny. I was intrigued, so sallied forth to their HQ with my good friend Damian from The Mud Life Magazine.

I won’t be the first to say that there is a touch of the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen about the Jimny, albeit in diminutive form. The new look sees a set of Twisted’s special 16-inch alloy wheels at each corner and I was pleased to see proper off-road tyres fitted too in the form of BF Goodrich All-Terrains. As we were to find out during our drive, they are the best.

Twisted decals on the flanks tell all and sundry that this is something special, whilst a more subtle badge adorns the tailgate. The keen eye may also spot that the wing mirrors and front grille have been painted in the body colour for a more cohesive look.

The Twisted Jimny I drove is based on the two-seat commercial variant, the only model now available new. However, the company is more than happy to work on customer cars, so they would welcome you and your four-seat passenger vehicle for conversion should you be inclined.

In the test Jimny, the factory-fitted bulkhead behind the front seats has been removed, which much improves the seat travel and driving position. But perhaps of more importance to would-be customers is the extensive use of quality leather, which not only covers the seats, but also adorns much of the dash and doors, hiding much of Suzuki’s rather scratchy plastic trim. It certainly makes an impression on entering the cabin.

The headlining too has been redone, so cheap cloth has now made way for tactile Alcantara. Extensive sound deadening has been added in key areas, so high speed cruising is now a far more hushed affair.

I had first turn behind the wheel and you don’t have to travel very far to appreciate the under the skin changes. Firstly, the addition of a turbocharger has upped the power produced from the engine from a modest 100bhp to a heady 165bhp. The boost is not immediately obvious, but head past 3,000rpm and you will experience a welcome shove in the back as the Jimny rushes forward.

Lift off in mid boost, and there’s a rather addictive whoosh from the turbo to enjoy. Perhaps as an owner I might tire of it, but for an afternoon’s fun, it was a hoot.

If figures matter, the lightweight Jimny can now sprint from rest to 60mph in a smidgen over 8 seconds and in everyday driving it does feel that quick. The standard fare Suzuki five-speed gearbox is as smooth as ever, so it’s no chore to keep the engine on boost.

There’s no good adding all this extra oomph without improving the Jimny’s handling but rest assured Twisted has carried put plenty of improvements underneath. The fitment of a rear anti-roll bar gives the 4x4 much needed stability when pressing on. And then there’s the Bilstein dampers which not only improve the ride comfort, but also help with handling balance.

The Jimny was always fun to hustle along a country lane, now it can be done at higher speeds and with a greater sense of security. For those who don’t wish to venture off the beaten track, more road orientated tyres can be fitted which would improve things further.

No test of a Jimny would be complete without a little excursion away from the tarmac. Damian guided us expertly to Rudland Rigg. We were slightly disappointed that what was once a gnarly track, has now been levelled and therefore is not the challenge it once was. It still made a stunning backdrop for our photographs, and we did get to try out the 4x4 systems. It came as no surprise that the Twisted Jimny made light work of the challenges we threw at it. There were a few rough sections.

All Twisted Jimny vehicles are well equipped, but as personalisation is the company’s forte, there are plenty of options available. A roof rack, winch, an adventure bumper and underbody protection may well appeal to some, privacy glass and a full exterior colour change may suit others. Whatever you desire, Twisted will try to oblige.

As yet I have not mentioned the price. As is so often the case, the best things in life do cost and a starting price of £49,500 plus VAT may cause some raised eyebrows. However, this is not just a quick bolt on parts exercise. Much research and development has gone on behind the scenes – creating the right suspension set up, fitting a new ECU, mating a turbocharger that will work with the existing engine, fitting extensive sound deadening – the list goes on.

The result is a Jimny that can not only provide fun everyday transport both on and off road but can also tackle a long motorway cruise should you have the need. Good job Twisted – I like your style!

For more details, why not pop along to their Thirsk showroom for a coffee and chat with Twisted’s owner Charles. He’s a knowledgeable and personable guy. Oh, and there’s Defenders galore to look at too.
www.twistedautomotive.com