The word “sport” in the title “SUV” has always confused me.
SUVs are useful. SUVs are vehicles. But they are not athletic.
Except maybe this one.
Unlike every manufacturer’s soft-road vehicles, this heavily customized Suzuki Jimny actually justifies the word “sport” when it comes to SUVs.
A cross between a rubber ducky and a car, you can take this thing out to fish, hop out to SWIM, or ditch the marine jet and use it as a rowboat.
Here we go. That’s at least three sports – none of which can be practiced in a VW Tiguan – and I’m sure you can think of more.
More fun than a 200 mile supercar
On dry land, this four-seater soft top is a real helper.
It’s all-wheel drive. This is how you get over muddy ditches and gravel.
And it drives like a normal car on normal roads. It can even be serviced at a Suzuki dealer.
Best of all, the total cost is less than £30,000.
Owner Richard Usher paid £1,500 for a damaged Jimny donor car and sent it to conversion specialist Tim Dutton, hence the Dutton Surf name on the side.
Tim has been making amphibious cars for 35 years.
The full conversion costs £26,000 plus extras. Or you can order the kit for £14,000 and build it yourself.
OK, let’s go swimming.
Step on the clutch as you roll down the slipway, pull up the red marine jet lever between the front seats, put the 4WD transfer case in neutral and the transmission in third gear – and off you go.
Just double check that the bilge pump switches are set to automatic.
You are now the captain of a boat.
Use the gas pedal to accelerate. The steering wheel to steer. From reverse gear to reverse gear.
It’s like driving a car, except the brakes don’t work. And there is no traffic jam at rush hour.
To do a U-turn, take your foot off the accelerator, turn hard left or right, then flat out, and the rear end slides sideways like a rally car on gravel.
You’re basically drifting and countersteering, countersteering a bit on the way out.
Key Facts: Dutton Surf
Engine: 1.3 liter petrol engine with marine jet
Top speed on land: 85 miles per hour
Top speed on the water: 6 miles per hour
It makes a lot of fun.
There is a Nasa depth gauge on the dash, which prevents you from landing on the ground.
The top speed is about 6 miles per hour. But that’s enough.
This really is a pleasure boat for long summer days. But it’s also flood-proof and more popular than a 200-mile supercar.
He has acquired almost 200 vehicles reflecting the history of the British motor industry and you can drive 40 of them, including Capris, Minis, Jags and even a Rolls-Royce, on private roads from as little as £49.
Dutton Surf trips on the neighboring River Derwent are about to start.
Richard said: “We’re celebrating British ingenuity here at the Great British Car Journey and there’s nothing quite like a car that can be driven on both land and sea.”
It’s also the perfect definition of SUV.