Suzuki Splash 1.2 GLS+
Attractive front end is reminiscent of the Swift
- Attractive exterior design
- Fun to drive
- Practical and useful interior
- Impressive standard specification
- Gearshift can be occasionally notchy
- Two trim levels are closely matched on equipment
- Three-door version not available
- Tyre repair kit less useful than a proper spare wheel
With a longstanding reputation for producing distinctive and capable small cars, Suzuki has introduced the Splash, designed to succeed the Wagon R+ and bring a more modern and youthful offering to the small car market. Key to its success is the ability to satisfy the needs of traditional buyers whilst also drawing in younger buyers who usually make the first purchase from this competitive sector.
The Splash has something of a difficult job to do in that it must retain the buyers who had previously plumped for the Wagon R, a car compact in length and width but very tall, thereby offering a distinct set of characteristics that gave it strong appeal for more senior drivers. The excellent visibility and ease of entry and exit were key factors, and combined with low purchase and running costs it had that sector of the market cornered.
With the Splash, Suzuki is keen to keep those same buyers but alter the recipe to add more general appeal without sacrificing practicality. Suzuki is billing the Splash as a mini-MPV, and the exterior appearance hints at its target audience. Rather than being a tall box-like shape, the Splash appears more like a conventional supermini, all be it one that subscribes to the high-roof fashion of the moment. It is light-years ahead of the Wagon R in terms of attractiveness too.
Mechanically the Splash subscribes to conventional small-car wisdom by using a small transverse engine up front with front wheel drive, but uses the Swift platform reduced in length by 20mm to squeeze the overall dimensions. That gives the Splash the desirable long wheelbase with the wheels pushed out to the four corners of the car, giving maximum cabin space for the given length.
Inside the Splash retains the desirable high seating position which makes for easy access front and rear, while the dashboard is angled to make the driving position feel more car-like. The end result is a good driving position featuring impressive visibility and excellent headroom.
Our verdict on the Suzuki Splash 1.2 GLS+
Suzuki has hit the nail on the head with the Splash, meeting the needs of its traditional buyers whilst adding more general appeal. As a supermini it does everything that could be asked of it and makes impressive use of its compact dimensions. The impressive specification and low running costs make it an excellent buy on paper, while the fun dynamics and good looks are a pleasing bonus.
Running costs for the Splash will be impressively low - both engine options offer high economy, while insurance will also be very low.
Space and practicality
The Splash makes good use of its space. Headroom both front and rear is very generous, while leg and shoulder room are good, making it a viable car for four adults. The boot is deep rather than long, but a useful storage area beneath the boot floor comes in handy for damp or soiled items. Stowage space up front is also good, and the Splash feels like a car that can cope with the demands of everyday life.
Controls and display
The layout of the Splash is simple and attractive. The dashboard closely resembles that in the Swift, with large clear buttons and positive switch actions. The additional steering wheel controls are useful, while the large central speedometer is attractive and practical.
Here the Splash is also impressive, offering a good level of comfort despite the short wheelbase. Front and rear seats are comfortable, noise levels are acceptably quiet and the ride quality is also good, with road imperfections well filtered.
With remote central locking on all models and a standard engine immobiliser, the Splash offers good security for a car at this price.
The Splash has a significant advantage over its rivals with the standard fitment of ESP across all models. In addition it has six airbags on all models, which will be a strong draw for some buyers.
Like any car of this size, the Splash benefits from being compact and lightweight, giving it a healthy feeling of agility and nimbleness. The 1.2-litre powerplant is sufficiently sprightly to make good progress, and once up to speed the Splash is faithful and fun, offering more than respectable driving dynamics for a car in this class.
Family car appeal
A small family could use the Splash on a daily basis, especially thanks to the generous cabin space. The boot may fall a little short when it comes to carrying larger buggies, but otherwise it would cope admirably.
First car appeal
The Splash is an ideal first car. With low costs, decent performance and a fun spirit, it should appeal to those new to motoring.
Quality and image
For a car at this price point the Splash offers an impressive level of quality. The fit and finish is good as is the standard of materials, and it feels on a par with more expensive superminis. The Splash's image is helped by its sharp exterior styling and it also benefits from the positive image of its bigger brother, the Swift.
The Splash offers very easy accessibility, and indeed many buyers will choose one because of this factor. The high seating position makes it easy for front and rear passengers to get comfortable, while the boot is similarly accommodating.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The standard fit audio system offers a CD/tuner with MP3 compatibility and steering wheel controls, which is above the class norm. Sound quality is also good and will be a good selling point for the Splash.
Colours and trim
The cabin of the Splash manages to avoid the usual expanse of grey plastics that are common in this price range. The buyer has the option of choosing two additional colours for the cabin which help to lighten its appearance. The exterior can also be had in bright hues that suit its size and shape.
The Splash is a very easy car to park, with short overhangs, good visibility and compact dimensions. The standard power steering also makes short work of getting into small spaces.
Tyre repair kit fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (84bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.3-litre (74bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, four-speed automatic available with petrol model. Trim levels: GLS, GLS+ and DDiS.
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