The Southern Group of Motoring Writers (SGMW) has named the new Suzuki Jimny as its Dark Horse of the Year, beating the likes of the Peugeot 508 and Volkswagen’s Up! GTI hot hatch.

Given to the car that took the SGMW judges by surprise more so than any other, the 29-writer panel decided that the Jimny was the deserving victor, even in the face of such stiff competition.

Described as “so, so cool” by one member of SGMW, the fourth-generation Jimny has been a hit among the press and public alike for its simple and boxy styling and is the first all-new iteration of the compact off-roader since 1998.

Suzuki UK press relations chief Alun Perry said: “We are obviously delighted with this accolade for our latest model. We know we have a great new product, but it’s good to have this trophy to highlight how much it has impressed members of the SGMW, especially after 12 months when so many other models have arrived on the UK motor market.

“We know from feedback at the launch event that, as ever, they were impressed by the Jimny model’s value and ability, but the new car was also widely praised for delivering good fun too.”

SGMW chairman Ian Robertson added his congratulations: “Suzuki has done a superb job with the Jimny in re-forging one of the best – and surely one of the most compact – 4x4s on the market without sacrificing its off-roading clout and keen pricing while injecting yet more enjoyment into the driving experience.

“The Jimny also echoes Suzuki’s own status in the UK; it might not be the biggest brand here but it definitely punches well above its weight.”

The new Jimny – and great deals on its predecessor – can be found here!