Suzuki Splash 1.2 SZ4
Attractively styled Splash offers a low cost motoring experience
- Good level of standard specification
- Refined and fun to drive - especially 1.2 petrol engine
- Practical and spacious interior
- Attractive exterior design
- Some cabin plastics are hard to the touch
- New 1.2-litre engine lacks torque at low revs
- No three-door version
- Badge snobs will overlook this for Vauxhall's Agila
Suzuki has a long history of producing small, affordable and competent cars. Recent years have seen many trends emerge, be it downsizing or families wanting a second, city-centric car. The Splash offers both types of buyers a sound choice; quality levels are good and on-road performance is well-rounded.
The Splash has a tough job to do. Tasked with retaining older Suzuki customers while attracting new, potentially younger buyers to the brand, the car's excellent forward visibility and ease of entry and exit are key factors along with low running costs.
Suzuki is billing the Splash as a mini-MPV, and the car's tall 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.
Mechanically the Splash is a conventional small car. With a generous wheelbase, cabin room is good - even for rear seat occupants. Following on from the car's 2008 launch, its 1.2-litre petrol engine has been revised to deliver a improved economy and emissions performance. It's also a refined motor that is barely audible when at idle.
Further proof of the car's easy to drive and own nature, the Splash's 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 SZ4
Meeting the needs of its traditional buyers whilst adding more general appeal, potential new owners, the Splash supermini does everything that could be asked of it and makes an impressive use of its compact dimensions. The updates to the engine line-up offer the budget conscious a further reason to take Suzuki's small car seriously, while the car's fun dynamics and good looks are a pleasing bonus.
There's little doubt that the Splash will be an economical car to run. The low capacity petrol engines are pleasantly frugal and occupy low tax bands. The car itself is also modestly priced and it's unlikely to cost much to service during the course of the ownership period.
Space and practicality
Headroom both front and rear is very generous, while leg and shoulder room is also good, making it a viable car for four adults. The boot is deep rather than long. Stowage space up front is also good, be it the glovebox or door bins.
Controls and display
The dashboard 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. The car's manual gearshift is slick, while the assisted steering is accurate.
Offering a good level of comfort, front and rear seats are supportive, noise levels are acceptably low and the ride quality is also good, although heavily potholed urban roads will cause a little discomfort.
There are no surprises here given the car's asking price, although with remote central locking on all models and a standard engine immobiliser the Splash offers good level of security.
With its trump card of six airbags on the high-spec SZ4 model - which will be a strong draw for some buyers - plus the inclusion of the usual ESP and anti-lock brakes, the Splash is well equipped for a car in this class.
A nimble and agile car, the Splash is perfectly suited to city driving duties. It accurate steering and lofty driving position are both plus points. The car's ride is a little firm, but proves its worth away from the city as pitch and roll is well suppressed. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is impressively refined at idle and is a willing performer, although it does need to be worked hard when accelerating outside of city limits.
Family car appeal
Although not an immediately obvious candidate, a small family could successfully 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 with shopping duties.
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
Recent years have seen cars in this class up their game, and the Splash offers an impressive level of quality. Fit and finish is also good. The little Suzuki's image is helped by its sharp exterior styling and it also benefits from the positive image of its bigger brother, the Swift.
With its slightly raised front seating position, the Splash offers easy accessibility and many will choose one because of this. As a five-door, access to the rear seats is better than expected despite modest size. The boot is similarly accommodating thanks to a low load lip.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
Sound quality is good from the standard fit audio system, which combines a CD/tuner with MP3 compatibility and steering wheel controls, which is above the class norm. Located high up in the fascia, the unit's display is easy to read.
Colours and trim
Despite the predictable expanse of dark plastics in such a car at this price point, most surfaces are easy on the eye. The subtle contrasting trim accents help lighten the cabin ambience, too. On the outside, bold colours work well, and do much to accentuate the car's youthful character.
You'd struggle to find a car in this class that is difficult to park, and the Splash is no different. With short overhangs, good visibility and compact dimensions, the Splash also boasts standard power steering that makes short work of getting into small spaces.
Space saver wheel fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (68bhp); 1.2-litre (94bhp). Transmission options: standard five-speed manual gearbox, four-speed automatic available for 1.2 SZ4. Trim levels: SZ3, SZ4.
Honda Jazz Upmarket alternative boasts a higher price
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Vauxhall Agila Badge engineered alternative matches Splash on performance
Kia Picanto More conventionally styled city runabout is a competent alternative