While the new Jimny’s cabin is undoubtedly a vast improvement over the 20-year-old interior of its predecessor, it still seems to stumble as often as it soars.

Its boxy body makes for excellent visibility, yet the steering column’s inability to adjust for reach means some drivers may find its driving position a touch compromised. The controls, meanwhile, have all been quite clearly designed for ease of use when not travelling on smooth road surfaces (fiddly infotainment system aside).

Richard Lane

Road tester
Angular look of dashboard, complete with faux exposed bolts, makes for a cockpit that’s plainly functional but also has plenty of charm

Buttons and switches are large, chunky and easy to reach from the driver’s seat, all of which are good things. When you touch them, however, you won’t be overwhelmed by the apparent quality or the sense of durability of the materials used. The row of switches at the bottom of the centre stack – those for the windows, traction control and hill-descent assist – feel particularly flimsy.

Then there are the rear seats, which will comfortably accommodate a couple of children (adults are an inevitable squeeze), yet if you elect to keep them in place, you’ll have practically no usable boot space. You might find you’re able to find room for a carrier bag or two back there, but that’s about it.

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Folding the seats down liberates a more useful amount of space for luggage (up to 830 litres) but renders the Jimny a strict two-seater; although a standard 50/50 split-folding rear seat means you can, at least, strike a halfway-house solution.

The obvious consequence of all this is that, unlike so many SUVs, the Jimny would make for a compromised family car. It’s a car in which the school run would be possible but not easy, and in which a weekly shop with a couple of kids might be a stretch. As a second-car-in-the-household, however – one ready to regularly work off-road, but perhaps not have to carry or do much else – the car could make practical sense.

The Jimny SZ5 makes use of the same 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system as you’ll find in the Swift supermini, which includes features such as Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation, DAB radio and voice control. The downside is that it also suffers from the same pitfalls.

The menu screens aren’t particularly graphically detailed or intuitive, and it takes a bit of time to wrap your head around how it all works. The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, however, goes a long way to mitigating the impact of all that, certainly to the point where your mirrored smartphone screen would become your go-to preference for everyday use, and you’d interact with the factory infotainment only when you had to.

SZ4 and SZ5 models come with the same two-speaker sound system, which isn’t great. Sound quality is quite weedy and, as the engine is so loud at motorway speeds, the need to turn the volume up only makes things worse. It’s by no means unbearable, but is also far from a selling point.

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