Why I bought the Maruti Jimny Alpha MT: Initial days with our new car
It felt surreal that the vehicle that I had dreamt of for so long, was actually coming home with me.
BHPian Hirohito recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
This decision to go looking out for a successor to my SS80 was triggered, partly by the Government’s apathy towards older cars, and partly due to increasing traffic volume at higher speeds, warranting higher safety.
As someone who loved the boxy, minimalistic, quirky and perhaps even timeless designs of the Lada Niva and the Fiat Panda, Jimny was on my radar for quite some time. As much as I love its boxy, angular and retro classic aesthetics, I was equally interested in its go-anywhere allgrip capability and compact dimensions.
Most importantly perhaps, I felt ready for a small entry-level 4×4, to keep exploring the Northeast of India. In the last few years, I’ve pushed the 35yo Hirohito on every possible terrain that my journeys have demanded. Now as I compared the two, unsurprisingly so, the Jimny excelled on all parameters when pitted against the SS80. What’s surprising though, is how it’s never by a huge margin. The SS80 is up there, neck to neck with the Jimny, on all parameters like top speed, acceleration, braking, off-road capabilities etc, always just a few steps behind. It’s like the Jimny and the SS80 are both from the same slow family, just that the Jimny is younger and faster, but still slow when compared to its contemporaries. And perhaps the only time the Jimny appears muscular is when it’s standing beside an 800.
The only occasion where the SS80 leaves the Jimny behind is on passenger comfort across the cabin. This time the Jimny isn’t far behind either. Because the Jimny’s suspension in itself works like a charm when you take things into account like it’s a BOF and comes with two solid axles. It’s not too often that a BOF feels as comfortable as it feels on the Jimny. And the only occasion where the Jimny excels the SS80 by a significant margin, is on safety.
Why Alpha MT?
While I loved the steelies on the Jimny’s Xeta variant and the smaller infotainment screen that sits snugly into the dashboard, I still went for the Alpha variant for one small reason and that is weight. Being a smaller engine, just like all kei cars, the Jimny is built light, banking on the power-to-weight ratio to remain peppy and light-footed. The alloys cut the unsprung weight of the Jimny by approx 6-7 kilos compared to the steelies in the Xeta variant.
As a resident of a small town, I don’t have to drive through city traffic on a regular basis. But mostly on the open highways and narrow mountain roads. So manual transmission was my natural choice. I would have definitely considered AT if I had to deal with city traffic on a regular basis.
Booking and delivery
I wanted to get a Jimny from the used market. That translates into a long waiting period of at least 12 months without a significant value depreciation.
This and my own impatience made me dabble with the idea of going for a new one instead. After a few days of pondering, I checked with Bharati Nexa in Bongaigaon, Assam. I could have checked with Nexa in Guwahati, as both Guwahati and Bongaigaon are equidistant from home. But I wanted to avoid dealing with the bumper-to-bumper Guwahati traffic right after the delivery at all costs.
It turned out to be one of the few very good decisions that I’ve taken in recent times.
Additionally, Bongaigaon happens to be on the route to my in-law’s place in Kokrajhar and that sounded like a bonus to me. So I finally took the call to book a Jimny at Bharati Nexa at Bongaigaon. They had a few Jimny bookings already and the sales advisor suggested that I do so at the earliest, if I wanted the delivery in the first lot itself. I took a few more days before finally taking the plunge, promptly sending the booking amount on 16th of June. I did keep calling, Debapriya (SA), from time to time to check if my car was in transit.
On 11th of July, I got a call from Debapriya, inviting me for the unveiling of the Jimny the next day. Since I was planning to go to our in-law’s place, I along with my wife, decided to drop by Nexa Bongaigaon along our way, the very next day.
Since we had time, on our way we went to check out this abandoned site that we had been curious about for a long.
At 1 pm, we arrived at Bharati Nexa Bongaigaon. They had a fully kitted Jimny in Kinetic yellow on display. And the unveiling had been rescheduled for that evening instead of afternoon. Debapriya went out of his way to remove the black satin cover allowing us to sit inside the display car while attending to my queries. I was told that my car was in transit and had reached Siliguri stockyard which is less than 300 kilometres from the showroom. But they couldn’t tell when it would arrive. When I asked for a test drive, the SA was apologetic as this was their only demo car and had been prepped up for the evening’s unveiling. But he assured me that if I dropped by the next day i.e. on the 13th, I’d be able to take it out for a test drive.
Checking out the Jimny in real for the very first time.
So we left for my in-laws hoping to swing by once again for a TD on our return journey the next day. Dipom, a fellow car enthusiast and also a member of Crew37 was waiting for me at Nexa the next day. Just as I was parking my SS80 planning to take a TD, he broke the news to me, apunar gari ahi gol “your Jimny has arrived!”. I couldn’t believe my ears.
Debapriya was not at the showroom, but he had asked another SA, to get me a test drive. But I instead asked him to take me to the stockyard, which was luckily attached just behind the showroom and lo behold! There was my Jimny in white amidst other Jimmys in red, yellow and grey. I decided not to waste any time, and opted out from taking a TD and spent some time at the stockyard with the car.
My Jimny in white
with Dipom outside Nexa, Bongaigaon
I found the key on the dashboard, turned it on and left soon after. Half excited, part worried, with the sudden turn of events. I wasn’t expecting it to arrive like the wind. The amount of work that needed to be done, if I were to pick it up the very next day, looked insurmountable. Which included 300 kms of driving. 100 kms of which needed to be done in the next one hour in the SS80, and be at the bank before it closes. As we left Nexa and started our journey home, it was 3 in the evening.
I was doing a consistent 80 kmph, with a fluttering heart, racing and occasionally stopping to speak and arrange bank statements and other documents, for the loan. A shout-out to my banker friend from school, Jagat for attending my calls and sending me documents along the way. Then just before reaching home, I decided to pay a visit to the financing office which was still open in the town of Goalpara. I just had to take a small detour along the old highway overlooking the Brahmaputra river to the left. Hard to believe how this used to be such an important road, before the Naranarayan Setu was thrown open after years of delay in 1998.
Soon we reached Goalpara, met the manager and then took the state highway that passes through the important archaeological site of Surya Pahar, then Sainik School Goalpara, which happens to be my alma mater, then crossed Matia, and reached home, after passing through a small patch of Sal trees. The idea was to take the delivery the next day i.e. the 14th of July and I was running against time.
Reached home by evening
The next morning while I waited for mother and wife to get ready, BHpian yogi…Reeturaj, dropped by in his Hyryder from Guwahati. He was around visiting relatives. This gave me a brief but much-needed break from the whirlpool I’ve been through in the last 24 hours.
Yogi…Reetu’s AWD with our Honda
After lunch, we drove 90 kms on the Mobilio and arrived at the Nexa showroom. The SA, Debapriya and the GM at Bharati NEXA, Mr. Bipul, who turned out to be an acquaintance of mine, made the delivery experience seamless and quick.
The quintessential delivery photo
After the delivery flamboyance, which remotely reminded me of my wedding ceremony just a year ago going by the number of cameras flashing at us, we were finally heading back home at around 6 in the evening. What a relief. It felt surreal that the car that I had dreamt of for so long, was actually coming home with me. Just me, and the Jimny, with mom and wife in the rear seat and our driver in the Mobilio behind us. When I had booked, I had convinced myself that it would take at least three months, based on the experiences shared on the internet. In my case, it took less than a month but might take much longer to sink in.
Heading back home with the Jimny
Day 1: 1st wash goes down the drain
The next morning I woke up early and took the Jimny to some spots that I’ve frequented on cycles and on the SS80, into the neighbouring Garo hills, pineapple gardens and the paddy fields closer home, without waking my wife up. The joyride kept extending itself until it was 8 in the morning and I decided to return home for breakfast.
8 am and I was winding up my very first joyride on the Jimny, by the river, less than a kilometre from home.
Post breakfast, I decided to give the Jimny its first wash. I find it therapeutic to wash my own car. And today of all the days, I needed to do this to let it sink in. Along with our driver, we gave all three cars a wash that morning and neatly parked them inside the garage, as a downpour looked imminent.
Ist wash together
It rained and Mother asked me to come to the temple to get the new car baptized, if that’s the right word. I asked if we could go in the afternoon when the rain subsided, but my mother said the priest wouldn’t be there. All the hard work was about to be washed away. But that’s alright. I had prayed for the very first time in years, before committing for a brand new Jimny. My wife and I kept talking about how, things just happened, one after the other and everything just fell into place, ending with the Jimny in our garage. In fact, ours ended up being the first Jimny to be delivered from the dealer. So I was okay to get mud on the Jimny, clean it again, if it can secure the blessings of the almighty.
Later that evening I went for a joyride with my wife, and she absolutely loved the little Jimny to bits, especially the panoramic view and the comfort. In fact, this was the first time she was sitting at the front. The previous evening on our way home, both she and my mother were sitting at the rear. Dipom had taken the front seat for the short test drive from Nexa to the petrol station across the road. And we dropped him back to his car at Nexa before leaving for home. The front seat remained empty for the rest of the journey. Later that evening she did mention that the SS80’s seats were cozier somehow and she missed that a tad bit.
Evening out in the Jimny
Day 2: Engaging 4×4 for the very first time
The next morning I woke my wife up to man the camera as we sneaked out in the Jimny once again, to try out 4H on a muddy section nearby. The way it handled itself in 4H, I knew it was destined to widen my travel horizon in the coming days.
Day 3: First long drive (450 km)
The first longish drive happened on 17th, 3 days after delivery, as we drove towards Shillong. Wife had some work related to her Phd in NEHU (North-Eastern Hill University). On the way, we had a short pit stop at Guwahati, where friends from Crew 37 had gathered to check out the Jimny. All three had their share of TD the Jimny amidst a light drizzle. Crew 37 is a car enthusiast group from Assam.
Jimny TD with members of Crew 37. Sanjay’s brand new Scorpio, Yogi… Reetu’s Hyryder and Nayan’s Ecosport in the backdrop.
After driving close to 200 kms, we stayed at a friend’s farmstay at Umsning without entering into Shillong. NEHU is about 30 kms from the farm. Nowadays, we generally avoid visiting Shillong, especially in our vehicles. And thankfully NEHU is on the outskirts of Shillong, so we skipped Shillong altogether.
Siblings on the Guwahati – Shillong highway
My wife who had been using this road for some years now, exclaimed how she was seeing for the very first time, a hill up here and up there by the road. She thought it had something to do with the visibility through the Jimny’s windshield.
During that trip, I only had to engage 4H briefly once on our trail leading to the farm-stay and once more when I had parked on a slippery slope and the rear wheels skidded as I tried to pull out. A quick flick from 2H to 4H did the trick. For me that’s value for money not having to ask my wife to step out in the dark, to push the car, thereby saving the the evening from a certain disaster.
During our two days of stay there, while wife had to run around the campus, I mostly waited in the car, working on my iPad. A number of people kept approaching throughout the day, seeking permission to check out the Jimny. I am used to curious people around the SS80, but seeing it happening to the Jimny left me amused.
A trio checking out the Jimny outside the exam block, NEHU
A duo outside life sciences department
We started early on 19th morning from Umsning. Wife picked up some pineapples and some eatables from Nongpoh, a popular pit stop on the GS road. We got some extra for the GM and the SA, at Nexa since I was planning to go there the next day for the number plates.
Garo hills to my left, as we approach home. Reached home at 10.10 am
20 & 21 July (88 x 2 km)
Car gets its number plates
The next morning, I was headed to Nexa Bongaigaon with mom and dad, as my registration plates had arrived. As my odo reading was 800+ kms, it was suggested that I get my first servicing done, which is usually done at 1000 kms. In addition to the servicing I also got the chassis and the silencer painted and mud flaps installed, which were out of stock last time. Dipom from Crew 37 joined us for lunch. Dipom, I and a few others were planning Ladakh in our cars in September, but the tragedy unfolded in Himachal Pradesh and I have put my plans on halt for now. He is still eager to do the trip though.
We returned home the same evening, followed by a 230 km to and fro drive to the Nokrek UNESCO biosphere reserve in neighbouring Meghalaya, with parents, the next day i.e. 21st of July.
Sunset over Garo hills, Meghalaya on our return journey from Nokrek
Both the Jimny and I were now ready for a slightly longer drive and that was about to unfold within a day.
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