We’ve all heard the debate. It generally starts with a simple comparison between suspension types, but before you know it it’s morphed into a raging argument about lockers, sway-bars, and a dispute between petrol and diesel engines.

In truth, the best trail-driving 4×4 is the one you’re willing to ding and scratch.

That said, off-road capability is relative to what you’re willing to attempt. A banged-up softroader on a grade 3 trail can be just as much fun to drive as a Jeep Rubicon on a Grade 5 track. Put another way: The best trail-driving 4×4 is the one that puts a smile on your face, regardless of brand and features.

And let’s face it… you can’t have fun in a 4WD if you’re worried about its paint job.

“And let’s face it… you can’t have fun in a 4WD if you’re worried about its paint job”

I recently had these thoughts in mind when I was shopping around for my next project 4×4. I had just sold a Nissan Patrol which is my all-time favourite 4×4 that I hope to own again, but possibly the pick-up version next time. However, for now, I wanted something completely different.

What could be more different to a 2.8-ton vehicle with a 4.8-litre engine, than an 880 kg vehicle with a 1.6-litre engine? And so, I bought a Suzuki SJ.

Excellent clearance angles, nimble proportions, and a sharp turning circle make the Suzuki SJ a phenomenally capable off-roader at a very reasonable price. Of course, the fun-factor doubles once you pull the doors off and ditch the roof.


I also like the fact that you can tow it where you want it.

Having a dedicated trail-driving 4×4 is all well and good, but reliability is a common problem with any low-cost vehicle.

Will it get you to the track? Will it break down on the route? Will it get you home? 

None of these questions matter much when you can tow your vehicle to- and from the track behind a reliable daily driver.  

However, there was one last reason why I was keen on a SJ…

I often worry that my two sons are growing up in an overly digitised world and will one day be analogue “deficient”. With this in mind, I decided that a small project vehicle would be a great way to pull them away from any screen time and get them involved in an ongoing project.

The great thing about a Suzuki SJ is that even small changes and/or accessories can have a big impact on the vehicle’s looks and performance. In other words: The modification reward factor is relatively high and affordable.


So that’s my master plan. It’s based on the belief that if I get my kids addicted to modifying 4x4s, they’ll have no money for booze and drugs.

Well, it’s time to sober up because wheels and tyres are first on the list.

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