Generation 2 Jimny history – an Australian perspective

This is part of a broader article going through the history of the Jimny in Australia. Here we focus on the first big change to the Jimnys with the production of the Sierra, which lasted for 17 years.

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The Sierra: Generation 2 revision

The Sierra, bringing on a 1L engine in Australia, revised the looks and added power, space, and better fuel economy.

Suzuki’s spring fever (Wheels, October 1981)
Suzuki’s spring fever (Wheels, October 1981)
Suzuki shows new four-wheel drive and a soft-top Sierra ad (Jewish Times, 12 November 1981)

The change to the new Sierra brought with it a growing interest in these cars not for just utilitarian offroading purposes but also as cars more at home in the city.

Life Style: Wheels.
"Sierra a small but serious off-roader" by Pedr Davis, Motoring Writer.
A reflection on the changing nature of four-wheel-drive vehicles is that more Suzukis are sold in metropolitan areas than in the country.
A spot check in March showed that 80 per cent of sales of new Sierras were going to buyers in the capital cities.
For all that, the Sierra is eminently suitable for a wide ranges of uses in rural and suburban conditions.
Sierra a small but serious off-roader (Canberra Times, 4 May 1982)

With an increasing growth in the market, there was a growing market for modification of these cars & accessorising them with add-ons became an ever-more obvious sight. This included special models that were available direct through Suzuki dealers, such as the BFGoodrich special edition which sold for $12 000, a markup of over 40% on the basic vehicle price! This is also around $37 500 in 2019 money or $42 600 in 2022 cost.

This special edition vehicle did feature a lot of extras including fancy Recaro seats, air conditioning and even a towbar. Quite a lot for the poor 1L engine to pull around. This article also looks like it has a typo with suggesting 215 section tyres are ‘two millimeters’ wider than standard – my guess is they meant 20 mm above the standard 195 section tyres.

Sierra showcase for BFGoodrich (Canberra Times, 6 Mar 1984)

Sierra 1.3L: big bore brings bigger success

Model year 1985 brought on a larger engine option (1.3L) and a 5 speed gearbox, both welcome features.

More power but less weight for new Sierra (Victor Harbour Times, Nov 16 1984)

The new 1.3L engine and 5 speed gearbox is what powered the car known as the Holden Drover – a rebadged Sierra as part of a larger effort by Holden to broaden its car offerings by rebadging other manufacturer’s vehicles. The Drover had revised headlights, only was available in the higher spec option and had a much higher pricetag: base Drovers around $9700 and high roof models $10 800.

New Holden Drover 4wd Hi-Roof Deluxe (ad, Canberra Times, 5 July 1985)

The Drover was dropped by Holden after a couple of years in later 1987, as per this mention within an article about the Barina – a rebadged Suzuki Swift.

Although commonly associated with the US market and reports of small Suzuki 4wds toppling over at the slightly change of direction, clearly that safety factor was on the minds of other markets such as the UK who also tested it, and was reported back to Australia.

Small 4wds get through UK tests on stability (Canberra Times, 6 Jan 1989)

The Sierra was another sales hit, although I don’t have definitive total model sales figures. In 1989, the Sierra (and the Vitara) accounted for nearly 5% of all 4wd sales. These numbers are unlikely to ever be reached within Australia but it’s pretty incredible how well the Jimny captured the market in both generation 1 and 2 form.

The Australian 4wd Market (Torres News, Jul 28 1989)

Coil-sprung comfort: revising the ride

The Sierra was revised late in its model in 1996 run to coil springs and a different 1.3L engine, which formed the basis of the 3rd generation to come in 1998.

Suzuki Sierra has it where it really counts (Victor Harbour Times, 22 Aug 1996)

After a 17 year model run, the time had come for the 3rd generation small Suzuki 4wd to come to Australia.