Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free

Published:13 December 2021

Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 2 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; enjoys Peugeots, naturally-aspirated diesels, column shifts and steel wheels

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; enjoys Peugeots, naturally-aspirated diesels, column shifts and steel wheels

► Dinky pickup based on previous-gen Suzuki Jimny
► Lengthened chassis, bespoke load bed, converted in UK
► We take it for a spin…

To yomp means to carry heavy equipment on a long march. It’s a term that grew in popularity during the Falklands War, so it’s unlikely that the Yomper 4×4 would sell particularly well in Argentina.

That’s not a problem for the Halifax-based company, though, which knows exactly who it’s targeting. Its Yompers take aim at people who need a hardworking off-roader for farm work, estate management or just pootling around – but who don’t want the bulk of a full-sized pickup truck. At the same time, it’s a step above ATVs like the Polaris Ranger or Honda Pioneer, being properly road-legal and capable of longer trips if needed.

CEO Giles Walker is a Subaru man, fond of the hardworking BRAT, so it’s perhaps no surprise he’s taken it on himself to fill a gap left once pickups started to become lifestyle tax-dodging family cars rather than farm trucks.

So what goes into a Yomper?

The base of a Yomper is a used Suzuki Jimny – a Gen 3 model from between 2005 and 2017, though earlier vehicles may be considered if they’re in good enough condition. The key is that they’re solid and relatively rust-free – cosmetic condition isn’t really a big issue – but this need for sturdy stock means Yomper sources its vehicles itself for the most part.

They’re then taken right down to the chassis. For long-wheelbase models, like the JMV275 we have here, an additional 50mm is welded into the middle. The bodywork’s cut down and fibreglass panels added to fill in the gaps. Theoretically, Yomper could do just about any body style you wanted.

Yomper side on

Our JMV275 is a dropside pickup, with a sturdy separate load bed, but a more ‘lifestyle’ option would be the Bergan – based on the same extended chassis but with an integrated bed that appears more akin to a ‘ute’. A bergan is a military backpack, so the game of word association continues here too.

If your needs are less demanding you can do without the stretched chassis and convert on a standard-length Jimny, or simply have the chassis cab unit if you want to add your own. And since the latest 2018-on Jimny is pretty well identical under the skin, Yomper could also convert on these – though they’re pricey and in short supply.

Whichever one you choose, the Jimny base is rebuilt from the ground up, with the chassis and suspension rustproofed and repaired if necessary, the cabs repainted and the engines and interiors overhauled. Most are then fitted with a 50mm lift kit and chunky off-road tyres for a touch more off-road ability.

Crucially, items like the seat and seatbelt mountings are left alone – this allows the vehicles to be fully IVA (Individual Vehicle Assessment) approved for road use. It’s worth noting that these same regulations force Yomper to remove the airbags, though…

The goal is that the end product feels as much like a factory-fresh Jimny as possible – in Yomper’s words, ‘the kind of vehicle Suzuki would have built themselves’. And we have to agree. The quality of the conversion here is top-notch, with the join between Suzuki’s work and Yomper’s barely perceptible. Were it not for the branding, you could easily believe this was a Suzuki factory product.

Well, the branding and the interior, which more than any other part of this vehicle feels its age. A cheap Android infotainment system, amazingly gauche quilted seat covers and a steering wheel that’s seen every one of the base Jimny’s 70,000 miles. There’s a surprising amount of room, though, and the seat went far enough back for a 6’3 driver to get comfy.

So how useful is it?

Very. Our JMV275 can carry 500kg in its load bed, and with all three sides dropping down flat and plenty of sturdy tie-down points it’s easy as pie to load up and secure your cargo. There’s a cross bar just above the cab, too, so you can load longer items that way without scratching up the roof.

Yomper rear

Useful touches include built-in steps on either side to make hopping up into the bed easy, and round the back you’ll find the spare wheel neatly tucked underneath. You can tow up to 750kg, too, though given the Yomper’s lack of power we’d probably recommend against doing this too often.

Is it any good to drive?

On the road, the limitations of the Jimny platform become apparent – namely, the utterly asthmatic 83bhp 1.3-litre engine. Mated to a slightly soggy five-speed manual gearbox, it’s quick enough up to 40mph or so, so it’s absolutely fine to nipping about town. Head onto faster roads, though, and while the lack of power isn’t dangerous it does make for an unpleasant experience.

The standard Jimny would do 0-62mph in about 14.1 seconds new – the JMV275 is larger, heavier, running on bigger tyres and with significantly more wind resistance. Cruising at 60mph is possible but you’ll need to have your foot more or less welded to the firewall to do so, and that’s with an unloaded vehicle.

Yomper moving

When we shoved a Christmas tree on the back and two large blokes in the cab, top speed dropped to around 55mph.

The mods to the chassis and suspension actually make it feel a little more stable than the standard car, though that’s not exactly hard – a Jimny’s top speed is dictated by how brave you are.

And off-road? Unstoppable. The Jimny underpinnings are basic but as sturdy as they come. Switching over to 4WD or low range is as simple as hitting a button on the dash, and with the upgraded tyres and lift kit on this one everything Cambridgeshire had to offer was dispatched with aplomb.

This is really what the Yomper’s about. Tarmac driving is secondary – it’s useful to have, rather than the main focus. And in all respects the Yomper’s far superior to an ATV or UTV if you want to nip down the shops in it.

And with its shockingly effective heater, enclosed cabin and comfy seats, it’s a sight better than them for working in cold and horrible weather. All while fitting through narrow gates or up tiny farm tracks that would properly stymie an Isuzu D-Max.

Yomper interior

How much does it cost?

The price tag is very individual to each Yomper, based on not just the conversion but the condition, mileage and original price tag of the base Jimny.

It ain’t all that cheap to buy, though, with the model we tested coming in at over £20,000 if you include VAT. Standard Jimnys hold their value astoundingly well, and of course the used car market’s crazy at the moment, but still – that’s a tough pill to swallow when you consider what you’re buying, underneath it all, is a 15-year old car with 70,000 miles on the clock.

Verdict

Is it worth it? Well, if you need something like this, the truth is there’s nothing else that matches the Yomper. Other Suzuki Jimny pickup conversions are available, but we’re not sure they’d match this level of quality and solidity – the Yomper is really, properly built.

It’s fun to drive in a sort of basic and charming way, the kind that you don’t get with new pickups, and thanks to the individual nature of buying one you can pretty much have any of your needs met.
As a small truck that can do big work, the Yomper’s a real champion.

Yomper rear

Specs

Price when new: £17,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1382cc four-cylinder, 83bhp/81lb ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual, switchable four-wheel drive
Performance: Slow
Weight / material: 1359kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4360/1915/1905

Photo Gallery

  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free
  • Yomper JMV275 Commercial review: underground, overground, Yompering free

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; enjoys Peugeots, naturally-aspirated diesels, column shifts and steel wheels

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