The new model Suzuki Jimny, already a sell-out success in New Zealand, has emerged an urban car winner in the 2019 World Car Awards announced at the New York International Motor Show in April.
A total of 40 new model cars entered the latest World Car Awards programme, including the recently announced Jimny which made it as a semi-finalist in not just one but three separate judging categories.
The compact, three-door, four wheel drive SUV then went on to be judged outright winner of the Urban Car category.
A Suzuki model has been a top three contender in the world finalist in this category for three consecutive years, following the successes of the Ignis in 2017 and Swift in 2018.
Vehicles were selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 86 prominent automotive journalists from 24 countries. Each juror was appointed by the World Car Steering committee on the basis of expertise, experience, credibility and influence.
Mike Rutherford, World Car Awards Programme juror, executive director and co-chairman, said Suzuki had seen off many rival manufacturers from all corners of the globe and was a company that produced some of the finest small cars on the market. "Everyday cars in many - perhaps most - parts of the world will have to become smaller if road and parking space is to be found for them in increasingly packed towns and cities whose populations are swelling annually," said Rutherford.
Toshiro Suzuki, representative director and president of Suzuki Motor Corporation, said, "We at Suzuki are greatly honoured to receive this award. The Jimny is the one-and-only compact, authentic off-roader, and we have kept true to this concept for almost 50 years".
"It now has many fans around the world, who enjoy its excellent performance and one-of-a-kind functional design, both on and off road," said Mr Suzuki.
Now in its fifteenth year, the World Car Awards reflect the reality of the global marketplace, as well as recognising, rewarding and inspiring excellence, leadership and innovation in a rapidly changing automotive industry. The awards are intended to complement, not compete with, existing national car of the year programmes.
The latest Jimny was first launched on the Japanese domestic market last year and unveiled for Europe at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. It became available in New Zealand earlier this year and quickly sold out, with orders extending to the end of 2019.
Markets have been impressed by Jimmy's value plus ability, and have also praised the model for delivering good fun. Announced as Suzuki's "dark horse 2019 winner" by the Southern Group of Motoring Writers in Britain, judges for that trophy described the Jimny as, "So, so cool".
Ian Robertson, chairman of the Southern Group, said, "Suzuki has done a superb job with Jimny in re-forging one of the best - and surely one of the most compact four wheel drives - on the market without sacrificing its off-roading clout and keen pricing, while injecting yet more enjoyment into the driving experience."
The British journalists said the Jimny surprised them with just how good it was.
With pricing in New Zealand starting from as low as $25,990, plus on road costs, the 1.5 litre engined Jimny Sierra comes with a host of safety, security and comfort equipment as standard. This includes lane departure warning, weaving alert, dual sensor brake support, hill descent control, hill hold control, satellite navigation and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.