The pull of the sportscar is strong. With the Cappuccino still a long way from being resurrected I’ve decided to buy a car I’ve lusted after since it was debuted back in 2002. But what does this mean for the Jimny?
Somewhere, tucked away, I still have the introductory brochure for the Smart Roadster & Roadster-Coupé. Sad enough to have requested and poured over brochures for the original City & City-Coupé (now the ForTwo), when this particular piece of marketing material landed on my doormat I went bonkers. The City to my mind was truly ingenious, a real shift in how to “do” a small car, but the Roadster took all this ingenuity and clothed it in a phenomenally good looking sports car body, particularly in Coupé form. I loved every bit of it, from its diminutive size to its blistered arches, dished rear wheels and swooping glass fastback. Unfortunately, in 2002 I couldn’t actually drive, let alone scrape together the 5-figure sum needed to buy one. Life is cruel.
Fast-forward 11 years and not only do I still have that brochure, but also my very own Roadster-Coupé too – wow.
The journey to this car began, rather embarrassingly, not that long after purchasing the Jimny. After the initial euphoria of some greenlaning exploits, where the little Suzuki had blown me away with its capabilities even on Runway Enduro road tyres (lovely…), I grew mildly frustrated by how normal the Jimny was on a day-to-day basis. There was no surge of boost coupled with a dump valve whoosh, no leather-clad serenity broken only by the woofle of a V8, just… a good, everyday car. Most people will now be wondering how that’s a bad thing, but I’ve always revelled in a sense of theatre associated with my cars even if it’s completely invisible to everyone else. To use the above examples once again, I adore the noises the Cappuccino makes as it comes on and off boost, how you can play with those sounds by minutely lifting and applying the throttle. The quiet theatre of the LS – a big, grey, jellymould 90s saloon to anyone else – was all about its gargantuan size, its opulence and its V8 engine juxtaposed with its sub-£1500 price tag and the faintly ridiculous scenario of a 20-something guy using it as a daily commuter. Outside of a muddy lane there was no theatre with the Jimny, and one summers day – when it felt at its most utterly invisible – it hit me: I should’ve bought another sports car. I should’ve bought a Smart Roadster. With no spare cash with which to make an immediate switch, I quickly settled on keeping the Jimny until the following spring, then switching to a Roadster as soon as I could find one.
Whilst that plan didn’t change, my thoughts and feelings for the Jimny were utterly transformed over the winter months. Over time I began to realise that there’s a lot of comfort to be taken from walking out to a vehicle like the Jimny each wintery morning – it’s the perfect protection from the rain, hail, sleet, snow and frost, a vehicle which you know will get you where you need to go regardless of the conditions. As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel like a bit of a chump for being so cruel about it during the summer, come the heavy snows of January and March the Jimny truly humbled me with the breadth of its ability. With little more than a set of A/T-S tyres and a couple of APIO recovery points it drove out into the Peak District to deliver paramedics safely to work in Stoke for Volunteer4x4 (earning itself the moniker of “The Legend of Longnor” in the process!), pulled saloons out of snow drifts, drove up and down lanes closed by snow and generally refused to be the least bit troubled by anything. It could not be stopped. Come spring it was my underlying urge for a Roadster, rather than any disdain for the Jimny, which made me forge ahead with the plan I’d made – I want a Roadster more than I do a Jimny… but only just. I sell the little Suzuki with a genuinely heavy heart – it’s not a normal car at all, but instead a truly utilitarian vehicle that’ll get you where you need to go. Always.