How India’s Gypsy evolved into the Jimny | The Financial Express

How India’s Gypsy evolved into the Jimny

Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was one of India’s most capable on-road and off-road cars, but a family car it could never become. The Jimny promises to be both capable and family

auto sector, auto industry
The Jimny will get the 1.5-litre K-series petrol engine, and is a four-wheel drive vehicle.

The Gypsy—even though it has sold only about 175,000 units in 35 years (5,000 per year)—is one of the most iconic car nameplates in India, thanks to its ageless design (for 35 years the design more or less remained the same), off-road driving capability, and the ability to customise (every buyer can personalise it).

But Maruti Suzuki discontinued it in 2020 when the industry moved to BS-6 emission norms; the Gypsy also wasn’t ready for the evolving safety norms.

Now it has been replaced by the Jimny (showcased at the Auto Expo, whose bookings are open at the carmaker’s premium sales channel, the Nexa).

“Whatever the Gypsy couldn’t be, the Jimny will be,” Shashank Srivastava, senior executive officer, Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India, told FE. “The Gypsy, for example, was India’s most capable off-road car, but not a family car. The Jimny is both capable and family.”

Market opportunity

There is only one model in this segment (4×4 off-road SUVs), the Mahindra Thar, and last year the market size of the segment was a little over 30,000 units. “With the Jimny, this segment will expand, and fast,” Srivastava said. “It’s a lot more SUV than most other SUVs. If the Brezza is a daily-use SUV loaded with tech, the Jimny is a daily-use SUV loaded with tech that you can also take off the road.”

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The Jimny will get the 1.5-litre K-series petrol engine, and is a four-wheel drive vehicle. It will be positioned between the Brezza (Rs 7.99-13.8 lakh) and the Grand Vitara (Rs 10.45-19.49 lakh).

Why isn’t it called the Gypsy?

Srivastava said the Jimny is a 50-year-old global brand, and has a stronger legacy than the Gypsy, an Indian brand name. “The Gypsy was based on the second-generation Jimny. This model at the Auto Expo is two generations ahead,” he said.

Also, unlike the Gypsy that was offered both as soft-top and hard-top, and as a three-door vehicle, the Jimny is a hard-top and has five doors. The Jimny also has a three-door version, but that won’t be sold in India. “We would also like it to be a family vehicle, and some families tend to stay away from three-door cars because of the inconvenience in getting in and out of the second row seat,” he said.

He added that it’s too early to say if the Jimny will be offered to the armed forces (the Gypsy was their preferred vehicle). “Requirements of armed forces are different from personal car buyers, and we will evaluate how we can meet those,” he said.

The target buyer for the Jimny is the lifestyle customer. Srivastava said there is a growing number of buyers who want vehicles that can be driven in all terrains, who flaunt their status with special vehicles, and who are increasingly exploring places that are not easily accessible by other cars.

Jimny through the generations

First-generation Jimny (1970-81): It was Suzuki’s first global small and light go-anywhere vehicle.

Second-generation Jimny (1981-98): It retained the boxy shape of the first-gen model and was well-received globally. Like the first-gen, it was also both for urban and off-road driving conditions.

The Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was based on the second-generation Jimny:

—The Gypsy was first launched in India around 1985 (970 cc petrol engine), and in 1993 the Gypsy King was launched (with the 1298 cc petrol engine). A total of about 175,000 units have been sold;

—It has been the vehicle of choice for the armed forces, forest officials, for car rallies, government, and car enthusiasts;

—The company discontinued the Gypsy around 2020-21 when the industry moved to BS-6 emission norms; it wasn’t also ready for the evolving safety norms.

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Third-generation Jimny (1998-2018): It focused a lot on passenger comfort (it was a hard top and had an AC), and had a longer wheelbase and better suspension. It was also claimed to have offered better stability both on the road and off it.

Fourth-generation Jimny (2018 onwards): It was launched only as a three-door version in 2018, but at the Auto Expo 2023 the first five-door version was unveiled. It will soon be launched in India.

Overall, a little over 3.2 million units of the Jimny have been sold in about 50 years.

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First published on: 14-01-2023 at 02:30 IST