Jimny, Supra, Defender. Three names that looked resigned to the motoring history books not that long ago, yet all have been revived for today’s market.
Despite all the banging on about electric cars and new tech, it’s the classics that still get us excited. Brand’s that have revived old nameplates are enjoying some well-earned success.
Let’s start with the new Suzuki Jimny. The fresh take on the diminutive off-roader has received universal praise. Despite being far from perfect, Suzuki has remained true to the ancestry of the badge which has won it plenty of fans.
In fact, we would argue Jimny enthusiasts are drawn to the car’s imperfections as they add character. The package is different to anything else, the Jimny’s uniqueness has resonated with buyers which is why the waiting list is long.
With the Jimny, Suzuki has walked the line between pleasing enthusiasts and delivering a package that can attract new buyers to ensure the Jimny lives on beyond this generation. Praise should be heaped on those who managed to correctly answer a seemingly impossible equation.
Moving to something slightly more controversial. In the last 12 months, nothing has fired up car fans like the reborn Toyota Supra. Admirers and detractors seem evenly split. The latter sight the BMW influence and styling as the reasons to keep their wallet closed, while those who see these attributes as strengths are keen to get onboard.
Rather than nitpick about how the new Supra came to be, enthusiasts like us should be happy cars like this are still being produced.
Those responsible for blending German DNA with Japanese styling and tuning were never going to please everybody, nor should they try to.
Instead of focussing on the origins of the new Supra, sports car fans should be content cars like this are still with us. When a brand like Toyota is unable to make the numbers work by itself, we either accept compromise or confine cars like the Supra to the good old days.
It’s a compromise worth making, how can combining the engineering skills of BMW and Toyota be a bad thing?
Even with rabid Supra lovers picking their corner, the results can't be argued with. The new Supra is a commercial success, easily overshadowing BMW’s new Z4.
Arguably the new Defender is even more divisive. While we are yet to see the new Defender locally it has already been written off by those emotionally connected to the legendary off-roader.
In some instances, the reaction is understandable. After a long build-up to the reveal, there’s always the chance of an anticlimactic response for those who have an affinity with the badge.
With the Defender, some fans were unrealistic. Developing a hardcore (and expensive) off-road SUV for what is effectively a small section of the market was never going to fly. To be successful, Land Rover needed to widen the car’s appeal.
The new Defender doesn’t resemble those that came before it. Land Rover has taken an approach that leans more towards luxury than utilitarian.
Until the Defender can be subjected to serious off-road testing, we can't say if it’s better than its predecessor. On the flip side, it’s likely to be considerably more comfortable.
Those with the loudest objections focus on the Defender’s styling, not its capability. Since the Defender’s heyday, Land Rover has evolved into a luxury marque, so it’s unrealistic to think a stripped out bush basher was on the cards.
For Land Rover to sell the new Defender in numbers that justify the exercise, it needed to offer a better daily driving experience. Very few are in a position to drop $70,000 on a car reserved for weekend activities only. It was always going to need to be more of an all-rounder.
No doubt, a host of modifications will be developed by aftermarket firms to maximise the Defender’s ability on dirt.
For those who remain unconvinced, there’s always a 70 Series Toyota.
Regardless of whether or not this trio appeals to you, as enthusiasts, we should all be happy these cars are still available. Eventually, the oil will stop pouring and cars like these are what we will miss the most.