Suzuki Jimny micro-RV wriggles through tight spaces other rigs can't
The Suzuki Jimny has long represented an endangered species pushing toward extinction: the highly capable off-roader small and maneuverable enough to pivot around, squeeze through and sidestep obstacles that leave larger vehicles stuck in place. But the tiny design that helps make the Jimny a great off-roader also makes it an inhospitable camper base. Shops and DIYers are usually satisfied to mount a rooftop tent on it and call it a day. Not surprisingly, though, there are a few Japanese camper shops that see more potential in the Jimny's pint-size cabin. Smile Factory has designed the most impressive Jimny camper we've seen, complete with a full bed, auxiliary power and an indoor/outdoor design. It can sleep a pair of nomads or support the solo adventurer on trips through the densest forests and narrowest canyons.
Smile Factory took part in last week's Japan Car Camping Show, and while its focus was on its latest pop-up micro-camper van, the Off Time Traveler 3, it was another member of the Off Time family that grabbed our attention when looking through information about the company and its work. The Jimny-based Off Time Crossroad isn't quite a complete RV with kitchen, but it moves a step closer than the bed-only sleeper Jimnys we've seen in the past, carrying a full cabin-sized fold-out bed, auxiliary power box and refrigerator. Campers can simply bring their own stove, outdoor furniture and other camping gear to complete the full overnight camping experience.
The versatile Off Time Crossroad multi-bed can set up in several ways, depending upon if it's going to be accommodating one or two people. Using a steel frame attached to the sides of the Jimny, it sets up over top the folded seats at belt-line level. With all the cushions loaded on, it creates a double mattress for two that stretches right up to the steering wheel.
If the driver is journeying alone, he or she can either create an L-shaped upper bed around the upright driver's seat or sleep on a lower solo bed that rests on the folded passenger seat. The best option, though, might just be to enjoy that full double mattress all to him or herself.
The Off Time Crossroad mattress width is comparable to other RV beds, starting at 50 inches (127 cm) at the foot and tapering slightly to 47 inches (120 cm) up top closer to the dashboard. Length, however, is less generous. Because the driver's side of the double mattress accounts for the steering wheel, it measures just 61.4 inches (156 cm) long, shorter than the average height of a Japanese woman. The passenger side stretches 67 inches (170 cm), which is almost long enough for an average-height Japanese male but still firmly on the short side. Campers taller than those dimensions will have to bend at the knees or otherwise contort themselves to fit — hopefully they won't be doing anything too physical the next day because that could cause some aches and cramps.
Those length numbers make clear exactly why you see more Jimnys with rooftop tents than sleep-in Jimny campers. Unless you push that bed over the dashboard and to the windshield, that's just a little too short for comfort. A tailgate tent to extend the bed seems like it'd be a smart addition, but we suppose the mattress size will work as is for some buyers, and those looking for a larger bed can step up to a Smile Factory micro-camper with a longer bed. The Crossroad double bed does hold over 440 lb (200 kg), so at least weight won't be a problem.
The other piece of the Off Time Crossroad puzzle is the compact power box. Instead of a full slide-out kitchen, this 35-in (90-cm)-wide box houses a 30-L Engel drawer fridge that wires into the included 70-Ah leisure battery. The right side of the box is dedicated to electrical outlets, allowing campers to tap into both DC and AC power. The included 1,500-W inverter supplies AC power at the two 100-V outlets, while the 12-V and USB ports tap directly into the battery. The box fits neatly across the tailgate, below the bed, for easy vehicle access and also removes and sets up outside on folding legs. It looks like it could serve as a handy table for holding a stove, perhaps an induction cooker powered by battery.
The Jimny measures the same adorably tiny 134 inches (340 cm) as the Mishima Daihatsu Hijet Quokka we looked at earlier in the week. While many global markets (not the US unfortunately) only have access to the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the Jimny is available as a proper kei car in Japan, powered by a 63-hp 658cc gas engine, choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, and part-time 4WD system with low range.
Smile Factory doesn't list pricing for the Off Time Crossroad, but given the simple, modular nature of the package, we can't imagine it sending the overall cost of a Jimny adventure rig too far into orbit. A new Jimny starts at ¥1,485,000 (approx. US$12,925), according to Suzuki's Japanese website.
If you're wondering about the payoff of camping in a Suzuki Jimny, this quick Suzuki clip showing the mini-4x4 working its way through a slick, narrow ravine helps illustrate. Such a tight set of walls would certainly close in around some larger 4x4s, and if that's the only path to camp, the Jimny crew will be sipping fine whisky fireside while the others are still working to get unstuck.
Source: Smile Factory (Japanese)