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Suzuki Jimny and Toyo Open Country R/T (that’s Rugged Terrain)

Often I get asked the question ‘What is the best 4WD?’ and that’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string? 


Is it a wagon or ute you’re after?


Do you want true 4WD capability? 


Is it a tow tug… you get my drift. 


By David Wilson, Adventure 4WD


I can tell you that since its reveal in 2019, Suzuki’s JB74 Jimny is a car I love getting into because it puts a smile on my face that I don’t get elsewhere. And that’s even when driving vehicles three to four times its price and especially so when they’re bigger, because bigger isn’t always better.


Straight out of the box, the new Jimny is a pretty capable 4WD. 


Around town both the three-door and the newly released five-door Jimny XL, excel with their compact footprint making parking a breeze along with their ability to zip in and out of the traffic and maintain a comfortable sprint in the traffic light Grands Prix. But take it off-road and there it shines.



Jimny is a bit of an outlier these days as it retains live axles front and rear with coil springs. Nearly everyone else has ditched that setup, at least in the front axle, for independent front suspension (IFS), a system derived from a passenger car experience that really restricts suspension articulation, the key to off-road mobility.


Keep a wheel(s) on the ground and you’ll go places, but lose that all-important contact and wheel spin will rob you of your mobility. Luckily for Jimny, Suzuki incorporated a pretty good, but basic, traction control system called AllGrip Pro. 


Lift a wheel off the ground and the brake on that wheel is tickled to restrict the inevitable wheel spin and the lost torque is sent across the axle to the wheel that has grip, and out of the hole she comes.



But what if we could offer a bit more help in the traction stakes right from the get-go?


Suzuki, like all 4WD vehicle manufacturers, offer from the showroom floor a tyre designed purely for an urban environment with a tread face that is tight and very uniform. That might seem at odds with the true intent of the vehicle, but the reality these days is that ninety-percent of drivers will never go bush.


I fixed my on and off-road grip issues with Toyo’s new Japanese-made Open Country R/T (or Rugged Terrain) for Jimny; a bold all-terrain from the legendary Open Country range of 4WD tyres that has found plenty of favour in Australia and elsewhere in the world.



This new Open Country R/T is supplied by Toyo in the original size, a 195/80R15 96Q. 


That sounds a little on the small side, but I beg to differ and for these reasons.


A wider tyre doesn’t always guarantee enhanced capability. It might suit your aesthetic, but it comes with plenty of compromises and affects some vehicles more so than others.


With too-big an increase in width comes resistance, which impacts on fuel-efficiency and engine performance, especially when off-road and ploughing through loose sand or mud, along with a lot of new-found terrain reaction, through steering and suspension. Put simply, you’ll feel more of the lumps and bumps.



Going taller sometimes is useful, provided the increase in diameter is modest, because going too-tall kills gearing. Over-tyre your vehicle and there’s a whole lot of potential for evil.


The first thing you’ll notice is that all of the zing is missing, you’ll take longer to get up to speed and hold that speed on the hills, and when you’re slowing, take longer to stop, because the mass of a taller tyre/wheel combination exerts more load on the brakes. 


Not only all of that on-road, but off-road you’ll have changed the ability of the vehicle to deal with the soft stuff, because the engine’s torque output will have been compromised and in the case of Jimny, those 130 Newton-Metres are precious when the potential for a stranding is real. 


In LOW range you’ll find the engine braking resistance when going downhill won’t be as confidence-inspiring, as the vehicle picks up speed precisely when you don’t want it to.



And then there’s driveline longevity, because all of those components were designed with a particular maximum load in mind and going beyond that scope will lead to breakages and rightly, warranty denial.


Nope, I’m happy that Suzuki elected to fit a tyre of that size because they know that the diameter/gearing equation they’ve arrived at is perfect for the potential of the vehicle and I’m even happier that Toyo offer it too in an Open Country R/T.


The 80 aspect-ratio sidewall is good and tall relative to the width and affords flexibility on all sorts of road surfaces for a comfortable ride that shorter sidewall heights can’t and when the tyre is aired-down, its footprint length is significant and will float Jimny over plenty of off-road peril like a boat.


The 96 load index will carry a maximum of 710kgs per tyre. Do the sums on that and multiply by four and you’ll see that 2,840kgs is far and in excess of Jimny’s 1,435kgs (3-door) and 1,545kgs (5-door) gross vehicle mass (GVM). There is plenty of carrying capacity redundancy there, forty-fifty percent more and that’s a great cushion for strength.


But the big news about a Jimny enhanced with Toyo’s Open Country R/T is how it drives.



Gone is the vague steering that is typical of stock rubber. A Jimny with the R/T becomes a lot more precise with less wandering and requiring less steering inputs to correct roadside imperfections.


Not only that, it won’t be a bumpy experience, because one of the trade-offs with selecting a more aggressive and off-road focused tyre has usually been a rougher ride. Firmer the R/T might be, but thanks to its new two-ply carcase-construction it’s not stiff, so the appeal of this tyre is huge.


The tread face of the Open Country R/T is aggressive. It sits kind-of mid-distance between an all-terrain and a muddie. Toyo were one of the first to call it a hybrid. 


An aggressive tread usually spells trouble in the noise stakes and the on-road grip stakes, but that hasn’t been my experience. You won’t be reaching for the volume control, or the ear buds, to drown out the thrum from downstairs. In fact I reckon you’ll be hard-pressed to notice the difference.


This is a tyre that can be confidently chucked into a corner on the bitumen wet or dry, with total confidence and largely thanks to the L-shaped interlocked tread blocks that are resistant to squirm with the potential to unsettle a vehicle mid-corner like some muddies do. Those same tread blocks are deeply-siped too and will squeegee moisture off a bitumen road and funnel it out the way.

That unique arrow-head design in the central tread area is awesome off-road for evacuating mud and grunge and one of the reasons why it is such a competent tyre. The stepped block shoulders and mini side-biters offer up greater grip potential in the mud and less likelihood of a stranding.


Toyo’s Open Country R/T is made in Japan, a country renowned for making quality tyres ideally suited to the Australian environment and that’s an important point, because in my experience, when I use my Toyos at the correct pressure settings, they’ve given me exceptional durability and a long, long life with negligible tread block pitting, chipping or tearing, even on the worst gravel roads this country can throw up.


Transform your Jimny with Toyo Open Country R/T!


David Wilson is one of Toyo’s Discovery Session presenters, a series to be seen soon on Toyo’s social media portals. Along with Steve Burke, Toyo’s in-house technical advisor, the two of them will delve into the science of making great tyres right for your 4WD or SUV. 



Words By David Wilson from Loaded 4X4 and Adventure 4WD

Pics By Riley at RJ Media and David Wilson