Adventure and joy in 4x4 convoys: Going overland will satisfy your wanderlust

Convoy of Suzuki Jimny cars travelling in Thailand.

Going overland – driving long distances on adventures with parts of the journey on dirt trails plus even a few nights of car-camping – greatly satisfies one’s wanderlust. And when a group of friends goes overland together, two factors are apparent:

1. Everyone loves the driving part, to be in control of the vehicle and negotiate the off-road trails.

2. Everyone has a lot of stuff to bring – outdoor “toys” to play with – so there is not much room in the vehicle for carpooling.

With small 4x4 cars like the Suzuki Jimny, there’s plenty of room in the campsite.With small 4x4 cars like the Suzuki Jimny, there’s plenty of room in the campsite.

As such, these “overlanders” go in a 4x4 convoy. They travel in a group of 10 four-wheel-drive vehicles or even more, each one having only a lone driver or at most one passenger while the other vehicles are chock-full with gear.

“So although we are driving alone in our cars, we are actually safe because we are in a convoy. One experienced driver in a well-equipped vehicle is always the sweeper, staying in the rear to support any other convoy member who gets in trouble,” said Angus Lai, who recently went on an overland trip to Thailand in a 10-car convoy.

Chow likes camping with a car-roof tent.Chow likes camping with a car-roof tent.

Lai is a member of the Malaysia Jimny Club (MJC), which has about 10,000 members on Facebook, so his 10-car convoy to Thailand were all Suzuki Jimny drivers.

First rolled out in 1970, the Suzuki Jimny was meant to be a “mini 4x4” for Japanese farmers to traverse narrow, undulating trails.

A cool picnic under shady trees.A cool picnic under shady trees.

The car has gone through many generations of upgrades to mirror the changing times; its lines are now sleeker, the interior comfort levels have improved since its infancy as a utilitarian 4x4 to the point that it is today a lifestyle vehicle for adventurers.

“We love going outdoors in a small 4x4 like this. It is nimble, agile and light. Narrow trails and small wooden bridges are no problem for us,” said Johnsen Phoon, one of the founding members of MJC.

The Suzuki Jimny weighs about 1.4 tonnes; a full-sized 4x4 pickup truck can weigh close to three tonnes.

 Convoy by the beach.Convoy by the beach.

By the merit of weight alone, this allows such a small 4x4 to cross a muddy trail with ease.

Should it truly get stuck in a rut, its light weight makes it easier to winch the vehicle out of the trap.

Phoon said it was easy to manoeuvre through tight spaces between trees and shrubs, and its tight turning radius makes driving in congested urban settings a breeze.

 A fly sheet while car-camping in the open air brings the temperature down by several degrees.A fly sheet while car-camping in the open air brings the temperature down by several degrees.

“I love how we can swerve in and fit it into a tight parking spot,” Phoon laughed.

But not everyone is into convoys; entrepreneur Christy Chow from Selangor owns a Suzuki Jimny solely because she loves going camping alone or just with her husband.

She has been doing it for about five years and used to drive a mini hatchback.

The rear door of the Suzuki Jimny can be fitted with a flip-open table for myriad uses.The rear door of the Suzuki Jimny can be fitted with a flip-open table for myriad uses.

“It was a little difficult driving steep uphill dirt trails. So I changed to a Jimny and even had it painted pink,” she laughed.

Besides the car, Chow confesses to spending about RM20,000 on her camping gear, including a small fridge with a portable power station.

“We choose managed campsites on hilltops in Selangor, Pahang and Perak.

Suzuki Jimny’s seats can be folded flat to create a bed space for two.Suzuki Jimny’s seats can be folded flat to create a bed space for two.

“It will be quite chilly and relaxing at night, though during the day, it can still be hot so we need to bring our large fly sheet to shade our car and some space at the rear to stay cool,” she said.

Chow enjoys using a roof tent atop her Jimny for a good night’s sleep away from creepy crawlies on the ground.

Come next month, a special treat is in store for these Jimny owners: durians will start dropping in orchards in Penang and it will be time for them to look for orchards that will let them drive off-road amidst the trees to feast on freshly-fallen durians.

Three friends on an overland trip to Thailand.Three friends on an overland trip to Thailand.

“This is what is special about small 4x4 cars; we can drive into orchards without harming trees and with little damage to the ground because our cars are light.

“We park in clearings, set up our camp chairs and tables, boil coffee and enjoy freshly fallen durians,” said Mah Guo Dong, a Penangite and member of MJC.

If outdoor adventures by car are your cup of tea, you will have the chance to test drive the latest Suzuki Jimny at The Great Outdoor Expo 2024 at Setia City Convention Centre from May 31 to June 2.

Get behind the wheel of a Suzuki Jimny at the expo, experience its nimbleness and responsiveness, and you can visualise the sort of outdoor adventures you can have in this car.

Celebrate the great outdoors

PROUDLY presented by Star Media Group, The Great Outdoor Expo 2024 is set to be the largest outdoor event in Malaysia.

The expo invites attendees to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure. From adrenaline-pumping activities to attractive booths and popular brands, there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.

Attendees can look forward to exploring a diverse range of exhibits showcasing the latest in outdoor gear, equipment and technologies.

Whether you’re passionate about hiking, off-roading or water sports, you’ll find everything you need to fuel your outdoor pursuits.

The Great Outdoor Expo 2024 is more than just a showcase of products – it’s a celebration of the great outdoors and all it has to offer. Visitors can connect with like-minded individuals, learn from experts and discover new destinations and experiences to add to their bucket list.

Exhibitors will enjoy a selection of multiple booth sizes, be interviewed by StarTV on the uniqueness of their products and services, and be able to make use of dedicated zones for product demonstrations.

There will also be an open stage for brand presentations, while brand owners will get online coverage on The Star website and social media channels.

Early bird exhibitors will enjoy huge savings of up to RM20,000 (terms and conditions apply).

Mark your calendars and join us for a weekend of adventure, inspiration and discovery.

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