The Suzuki Jimny is a unique vehicle that has been loved and relied upon by many generations of 4WDers. Among an ocean of compact SUVs already on the market, the Jimny is a vehicle you’ll spot instantly in any car park.
Aftermarket 4WD suspension is extremely complex and determining the right solution for your vehicle and your requirements demands special attention to many factors. Unlike numerous aftermarket suspension systems, which are only available in a single configuration targeting lift height, OME (Old Man Emu) offers a range of tuned and matched integrated suspension systems to ensure the right suspension is available to suit how the vehicle is outfitted and the conditions it will encounter.
With the Jimny’s short wheelbase, relatively tall ride height, 80-aspect tyres and live axles, the OME Engineering Team were given the exciting opportunity to develop an OME suspension upgrade that suited the Jimny’s own set of unique handling characteristics.
They took the Jimny’s off road capabilities a step further by developing a complete unique suspension solution with a new range of springs and specially tuned shock absorbers, while ensuring correct vehicle geometry was maintained. The result was a vastly improved overall ride experience, being balanced, predictable and enjoyable in both on and off road environments.
“It was a great opportunity,” says Lead Engineer Stuart Fooks. “We love whenever we can get out onto the road and especially out onto the dirt. And we love being given the opportunity to jump into the Jimny and do something a little bit smaller and with a bit of character and personality, which was a big change to the usual large vehicles we’re used to.”
“The first step was to test and feel the OE springs,” says Fooks. “How did they go? What were the springs like? What were its characteristics and how was it handling on the road?”
The OME engineers found that the Jimny’s factory original suspension gave reasonable on road manners, which were more targeted at city driving but presented opportunities to improve highway control, off road stability and off-road capabilities, particularly as the road surfaces got rougher.
“We wanted to see how much comfort and compliance we could achieve, as well as pairing a shock that would tune with that,” says Fooks. “After that, we attached the OME springs from the previous model Jimny, which we found worked extremely well.”
The Jimny’s spring rates were retuned from the previous model for better balanced ride and comfort, giving a more confident driving experience. A 40-millimetre lift was achieved while still maintaining an adequate level of droop. Two front spring options and a trim packer were chosen to cater for the option of no accessories, bull bar or a bull bar and winch vehicle set-up. Rear springs were also developed as part of the complete suspension solution, achieving a 40-millimetre lift to complement the front spring height.
In the 15 years since the last Jimny suspension was developed, the OME engineers had some changes and some evolution in the technology they had to develop for the Jimny’s Nitrocharger.
“Given the opportunity now with the Jimny, we’ve employed that technology to the shock, which has a lot more opportunity for refinement of the performance,” says Fooks. “The Jimny being a lighter and smaller vehicle means it doesn’t need much more dampening performance that we’re used to applying to larger SUVs and trucks.”
The Jimny has allowed for the larger bore Nitrocharger Sport shock absorber to be fitted, where the previous model Jimny was developed using the smaller bore Nitro Gas range. This new Nitrocharger Sport-style valving for the Jimny has allowed architecture more opportunity for fine-tuning at lower dampening performance levels. This resulted in a larger 35-millimetre ball piston compared to the usual 30 millimetres, which gave extra levels of refinement. The body of the shock was also altered from 50 millimetres in diameter to 54 millimetres, which allowed more oil and better cooling.
A caster correction kit was developed to address wheel alignment specifications to restore caster at the increased ride height. By fitting the caster kit, it was noticed there was a significant improvement in steering response, feel and drivability.
“A 40-millimetre lift is a lot for such a small car, so you lose a bit of caster coming up 40 millimetres in the front. So to get caster back down around where OE has it set, we put in the caster kit with a couple of bushes and offset sleeves to give a better feel of the steering wheel as you’re driving and bring it back to the fun car it’s intended to be,” Fooks explains.
REAR PANHARD ROD EXTENSION BRACKET
During the ride development program, some unfavourable ride qualities such as fatiguing lateral movement and unwanted head toss were present due to the increased angle of the rear Panhard rod. By raising that rear Panhard mount, the dynamics and behaviour of the Jimny were improved, helping to maintain its fun driving character.
The development of a rear Panhard bracket addressed the rear roll centre, resulting in reduced lateral movement for a flatter, more comfortable and stable ride.
“For the vertical movement of the Jimny suspension as you’re going over bumps, you get lateral movement,” says Fooks. “So the flatter you can get that bar, the flatter the lateral movement you get. What that means to someone driving the Jimny is, as it’s going up and down over bumps, you’re getting the lateral sideways movement of the back axle.
“We’ve maintained the fun and the general around town driving of the Jimny, as well as improving its confidence on corrugation and at highway speeds. The part of our job we love is the process of refinement and tuning of the car. It’s satisfying to take something and get tangible improvements every day.”
Contact your local ARB dealer for even more information, pricing and availability.
Check out our latest magazine issue online
View online or order a printed copy
Enter your email address to receive updates about our products and events as well as newsletters.