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Suzuki Samurai in the driving report: Minimalistic off-road flea

Mutschler, Hardy
Suzuki Samurai in the driving report
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S uzuki Samurai instead of LJ - because: Eljot had to be long-term cancel. Actually we wanted to introduce a Suzuki LJ 80. But of the around 10,000 copies that Suzuki sold by the LJ between 1980 and 1983 in Germany, hardly any survived unscathed. The couple who weren't bogged down in off-road trials aren't driving either. Or do not drive and are also so rusty that it is to be feared that they will crumble as soon as the first photo flash hits them. The Suzuki LJ is hardly around anymore - and if so, only at absurd prices. But Suzuki itself provided an alternative: the LJ successor SJ, better known as Suzuki Samurai.

Suzuki SJ - patent off-road vehicle in XS format

The Suzuki Samurai comes in 1981, only as a 410 with a 970 cubic engine and 45 hp. In 1983 the Suzuki SJ 413 complements the range. A 1300 with 64 hp sits under its slightly raised bonnet. In 1988 the Suzuki Samurai replaced both 400 models. Outwardly it resembles the SJ 413, but gets the new, 69 hp 1.3-liter machine. From the point of view of the rustic Suzuki LJ 80, such a samurai already appears effeminate. But what is something like this, so whether Iron Man participants accuse normal triathletes of being in a meme-like manner. Because the Suzuki Samurai does not qualify as a wellness oasis either. Although it not only shows bare sheet metal in the interior like the Suzuki LJ, but has fabric panels.

In the Suzuki Samurai, they wear fluffy patterns, as they are known from sofa beds in the 'Young Living' departments of Baden furniture pick-up markets or the seats on East German regional trains. The effectiveness of the convertible top should also not be overestimated. It can withstand precipitation a little longer than the LJ's light rain poncho. But at 100 km /h, the pulled-up soft top of the Suzuki Samurai rattles as loudly as the main sail of the Gorch Fock in force ten.

A few years of experience in building tent cities do no harm in handling the convertible top. Undressing the Suzuki Samurai without an accident requires the same determination, strength and skill as to peel a surfer in size XXL out of a wetsuit in XS.

And just as the surfer would then defend himself if you wanted to put him in the same suit again, the Suzuki Samurai is also reluctant to have the roof raised again. That explains why many ownersequip their Suzuki Samurai with the so-called bikini top. Colored in mostly screeching neon tones, it turns the Suzuki Samurai into a pickup because it covers the rear seats. But it is much easier to buckle up than the original hood. But it is precisely the renunciation of any kepis that unfolds the true character of the Suzuki Samurai. It does not reveal itself as shamelessly as a real convertible because the roof strut remains in place.

If you own a Suzuki Samurai, you can save yourself the convertible

But even so, the little Suzuki Samurai is a windier type than the modern sheet metal convertible top convertibles. The two useless rear seats are best thrown away with the roof. Of course, that doesn't make the Suzuki Samurai a roadster, even if it's almost as open as an MX-5.

But it's a car for one or two at most. As a soloist, the driver romps around in abandoned quarries in the open Suzuki Samurai. And in twos you can use it for two-person rides along enchanted farm roads. Break through the thicket with the Suzuki Samurai into a forest clearing, and then gaze at the stars undisturbed from the reclining seats.

So the Suzuki Samurai is happy to forgive its weaknesses - of which it has enough: With its harshly tuned chassis, it fidgets, its straight-line stability is like that of a drunk camel, and its steering defends itself authoritatively against any attempt by the pilot to help determine the direction of travel. Which becomes a problem especially when curves appear. The fact that when the Suzuki Samurai is forced into bends, it often kicks with the rear end doesn't make things nicer. With activated 4WD, the Suzuki Samurai can actually no longer be balanced around corners.

You shouldn't dare more than 100 km /h

But like the Suzuki Samurai then Can tear through the terrain: Thanks to the short wheelbase, the small overhangs and the large wheels, the light Suzuki Samurai crawls up and down greasy and steep slopes, waddles through waterways and hops over stubble fields. The short ground reduction helps him a lot. Because the less energetic 1.3-liter engine only achieves manageable performance on the road. It sounds like a hand mixer and has similarly little power. The engine shakes at 2,000 revs, torments itself to 4,000 revs and also screeches as dramatically as if it wanted to announce a hara-kiri.

The engine of the Suzuki Samurai can be dissuaded from this if the next stage of the precisely locking five-speed transmission is engaged. More than 100 km /h is rarely combined. And that's the strange thing about the Suzuki Samurai: It hops and makes noises, and actually drives a bit horribly. But a ride with him is like a break ina giant slide in the outdoor pool: you get thrown back and forth and always get a few bruises. But as soon as you splash into the water below, the fun should start all over again. The Suzuki LJ 80 may be even more extreme, even more compressed - it is the whitewater canal and not the giant slide. So the glory of the past belongs to him. The Suzuki Samurai, on the other hand, is our heart - and next summer. R. I. P., Eljot - Rust in Peace.


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