site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Suzuki Splash 1.0 GLS 5-door

Click to view picture galleryTempted by the Scrappage
  Incentive to ‘splash the cash

 
on a new car? If so, Suzukis
  mini-MPV, the Splash, could
 
fit the bill...

SALES OF NEW CARS IN THE UK in April (2009) were down again the eleventh successive month of falling registrations. The motor industry is now pinning its hopes on the Scrappage Incentive scheme which starts on the 18 May to kick-start sales just as it has done in Germany.

However, it is likely to be the budget brands and smaller cheaper models which will appeal most because even allowing for a 2,000 scrappage allowance on an old car, money still has to be found to buy a new one. Understandably, in these uncertain times people are reluctant to spend any money at all.

Suzuki, the world's largest manufacturer of small cars, has sensibly opted to join the scrappage scheme and they also have a 0% finance offer on most of their models. These include the new five-door Alto 'city' car, the marginally larger Splash five-door mini-MPV and the Swift three- and five-door hatchbacks.

The new Alto, which is priced from 6,795 (before the 2,000 scrappage allowance), has already done well in its first few months of sales and publicity from this vehicle's marketing activities has also prompted an increase in sales for the Splash five-door mini-MPV. Customers going into showrooms have looked at the Alto city car and decided for a bit more money they would rather have the supermini-sized, tall-bodied Splash because it offers just a bit more interior space, especially rear leg and head room.

Splash prices start at 8,750 and again the scrappage offer will take another 2K off this price. Making up a strong trio of small car Suzuki offerings is their conventional three- and five-door Swift hatchbacks, which also start from 8,750.

The company, well known for its small cars and compact 4x4s, has targeted a total of 28,000 UK sales for 2009. This, despite the current 28.5% fall in the UK's overall new car market, is a small increase over the 26,000 Suzuki achieved in 2008. The Swift is Suzuki's best-selling model range, accounting for 50% of their sales; the Alto will take 20%, the Splash and SX4 10% each and the Grand Vitara and Jimny a combined 10% share.

So anybody tempted to 'splash the cash' and buy a new, cheap-to-run small car could do worse than splash out on a Suzuki Splash.

The Splash is a sister car to the Vauxhall Agila and they are both built at the Magyar plant in Hungary. The Splash comes with three engine options: 1.0 and 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.3 DDiS diesel unit. Specification options are GLS for the 1.0/1.2 models and GLS+ for the 1.2 and the diesel. An 850 automatic transmission is available for the 1.2 GLS+ variant. Prices range from 8,750 up to 10,600 before any scrappage allowance.

Splash is one of the
safest cars in its class:
all five models are
equipped with six
airbags — including two
full-length curtain
airbags
and ESP
...”
The Splash is just over 3.7 metres in length, making it compact enough to manoeuvre with ease through narrow streets or into tight parking spots. On the inside its elevated seating positions gives a clear view of the road and scenery and also means it can seat five adults with enough legroom in the rear. The elevated seats also mean getting in and out of the Splash is easy for less-able users. With the rear seats in use, the boot space is pretty small at just 178 litres so it's not going to work as family transport for holidays. That said, the rear seats do fold 60:40 and that offers a good increase to 573 litres of load space as well as the flexibility to carry at least one rear passenger and luggage. There are also numerous storage slots and compartments.

Tall cars are generally not pretty; they look out of proportion. To be fair, the Splash has a chunky eye-catching design with interesting shapes and curves. Strongly flared wings, a bold nose and a flowing roof line are all key elements in creating Splash's friendly personality.

Inside, there's an equally lively cabin treatment, with stylish silver trim elements and, depending on the body colour, a splash of added colour in the form of turquoise, blue or light grey inserts on the fascia, doors and seats. Further distinction is provided by the sporty angled centre console, large diameter speedo with black numerals on a white background and a novel tachometer that sits on top of the dash in its own individual housing.

The standard GLS model has a good level of equipment that includes a CD tuner with MP3 player and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, leather-trimmed steering wheel, remote central locking, front electric windows with driver's auto-down, manual air conditioning, electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, height-adjustable front seats, tilt adjustable steering wheel and an information display. Step up to the GLS+ or DDiS and you get 15-inch alloys, front foglamps and privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate.

Splash is also one of the safest cars in its class because all five models are equipped with six airbags — including two full-length curtain airbags — and ESP electronic stability as standard. Suzuki say Splash is currently the only car amongst its competitors that offers ESP as standard equipment across the range.

Whilst the Splash might not be the cheapest car in its class, its high level of specification and safety equipment make it worthy of consideration. It is a bit of an oddball — you would think Suzuki had the small car market covered by the very nimble Alto and the youthful Swift ranges, but right between those two ranges comes the high-roofline Splash. Not that it matters because the Splash is another Right Car at the Right Price at the Right Time.

As far as performance goes, my Splash test model had the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine as used in the Alto. With 64bhp of power and 66lb ft of torque it runs smoothly and happily at commuter speeds in town as well as in 'the cruise' on the open road. Under acceleration, the weightier Splash dulls the small petrol engine's abilities. Top speed is 99mph and 0-62mph takes 14.7 seconds — it feels longer. The bonus of this engine is still its fuel economy: officially 56.5mpg in the combined cycle with low CO2 emissions of 120g/km, which in turn means a road tax bill of 35 a year. With an insurance Group 2 rating, this really is cost-effective motoring.

As for ride comfort and handling — all pretty much okay. There is some body roll during cornering due to the increased height of the vehicle, but it's not a problem. Chunky good looks aside, the Splash is at heart a purely functional car: very well equipped, very safe, very cost effective to run, reasonable to drive and easy to live with. And yours for an 'old banger' plus 6,750 (or 8,750 without the scrappage deal). — David Miles

Suzuki Splash 1.0 GLS 5-door
| 8,750
Maximum speed: 99mph | 0-62mph: 14.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 41.4mpg
Power: 64bhp | Torque: 66lb ft | CO2 120g/km | Insurance group 2