I wrote a few months back about why I believe the Jimny and Thar are not competitors. In brief, the Thar and Jimny are both true 4x4s, but reside in distinct categories, with enormous disparities in size and engine power, much like the Celerio and i20 are both hatchbacks but aren’t rivals. There will also be a minor variation in customer type, which is why I believe the Jimny need a 4×2 drivetrain while the Thar does not.
About two years after the 4×4, Mahindra introduced the Thar 4×2 to cater to buyers who didn’t need off-road capability but still wanted to enjoy the Thar’s aesthetic and lifestyle appeal, as well as to decrease the entry price. The proposal has validity because many people would never go off-road and will only use the Thar for city and weekend excursions. However, this significantly dilutes the Thar’s gritty, tough-as-nails reputation that it has created for itself from the first iteration. It’s a wonderful concept to have Thar versions, but I believe the future 5-door and its variants will give that.
And, as we mentioned in our review, without the 4×4, it’s not suitable for city or highway driving. The ride is now bouncier as a result of the reduced weight, but the steering, while lighter, is still too heavy for city handling, and the wide track makes squeezing through traffic difficult.
And it’s for these reasons that I believe Maruti should offer a three-door Jimny with a four-wheel-drive system. For starters, it extends on the single 5-door body style, but the tiny proportions are also ideal for city driving, the steering is light, and economy would be improved even more without the weight and friction of the 4×4 system. Furthermore, Maruti has long said that the 3-door Jimny would be too expensive for India, but remove the expensive 4×4 gear and you’ll have a lower pricing as well.
However, because Maruti is largely known as a ‘car’ manufacturer, it would be leery about diluting the off-road image of the Jimny, its sole hardcore SUV.
But, if it were up to me, I’d launch a 4×2, 3-door Jimny. Yes, there will be 4×4 aficionados who object, but there will also be many who do not, having realized the distinction. A three-door four-wheel-drive Jimny is also an excellent product line expansion, bringing in quantities that a single vehicle on its own platform would profit substantially from, and that’s a gold standard for Maruti Suzuki. Finally, I’d suggest launch the 3-door 4×2 Jimny simply because it fulfills the brief that Mahindra tried with the Thar 4×2.
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