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Suzuki Splash 1.2 SZ4

Click to view picture gallery“Whether youre downsizing for
  financial reasons or simply adding
  a second car to the family garage,
  or even buying a first car for your
  post-Uni child, the Splash makes
  a lot of sense
...


SUZUKI'S TALL-ISH FIVE-DOOR MINI-MPV, fresh from a mild makeover with a refreshed front-end (new bonnet and grille design, new bumpers front and rear) and, in the cabin, new seats and fabric, graphite colour scheme, Piano Black finish on the centre console and cloth trim on the front door armrests, brings a lot to market and for not a lot of money.

By not a lot of lolly we don't mean cheapy-cheap — just some honest-to-goodness value for money. Take the fuel economy: officially, running around the houses, the 1.2-litre manual model should return 55.4mpg.

After a week in the hands of MotorBar's road test team over a mix of roads, 'our' four-pot 1.2 had averaged 49.2mpg. Longer trips (extra-urban) could stretch that to an official 62.8mpg, with even city driving seeing a possible 46.3mpg.

“The 1.2-litre is eager
to please and if you need
it to go hell-for-leather
then you’ll need to make
full use of the revs and
the gears — thankfully
the five-speed manual
gearchange is
satisfyingly slick
...”
The petrol-drinking 1,242cc dual VVT engine pumps out 92bhp and 87lb ft — enough to run up to a top speed of 109mph and do the 0-62mph sprint in 12 seconds dead, all while emitting a tax-friendly 118g/km of CO2 — which keeps road tax at an affordable 30 per year.

The 1.2-litre is eager to please and if you need it to go hell-for-leather then you'll need to make full use of the revs and the gears — thankfully the five-speed manual gearchange is satisfyingly slick.

Motorway trips also benefit from the Splash's tall, eco-friendly gearing, with the cabin remaining quiet and unstressed.

In top SZ4 trim the 1.2 manual transmission Splash costs a tad over 11K and comes well-specced with keyless entry and start, A/C (with pollen filter), CD tuner with MP3-compatibility and speed-sensitive volume adjustment with steering wheel-mounted audio controls (illuminated), power steering, front electric windows (driver's auto down), tinted glass, rear privacy glass, electrically-adjusted and heated door mirrors, driver's information display, ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), six airbags, height-adjustable front seatbelts, and a set of smart alloy wheels.

Core benefits of the Splash's taller-than-average stature are threefold: easy to get in and out; plenty of headroom; high-off-the-floor seating makes for great visibility that's doubly welcome if you're the one doing the driving (particularly in heavy traffic) or if you're being chauffeured, in which case you'll enjoy uninterrupted views out whether you're travelling in the front or the back.

Justifying its mini-MPV tag are versatile 60:40 split/fold rear seats. With the back seats in use there's 178 litres of deep rather than long boot space for luggage, shopping, etc. With them folded, you have a 578-litre load bay (approx 36" x 45") made more useful because the seatbacks fold fully flat; and it's easily loaded thanks to the square tailgate opening and a low-load lip. Items you'd prefer to keep out of sight can be stowed in the large (36" x 15" x 6" deep) lift-out waterproof bin beneath the boot floor.

“With its basic
underpinnings based on
the dynamically
entertaining Swift,
the Splash’s roadholding
performance is good
enough to add a
rewarding pinch of
handling spice to your
driving
...”
Alternately you can fold back the boot floor panel and gain six inches of extra load height. Handy too is the pair of bag hooks. More good news: a space saver spare rather than a 'repair' kit. For the record, transporting a tumble dryer and washing machine was a piece of cake.

Whether it's more small people-carrier or tall hatch, driving the Splash is easy and effortless. From behind the tilt-adjustable, leather-rimmed wheel the Splash feels much bigger than its compact exterior dimensions (1.7 metres wide and 3.8 metres long) would suggest — in fact, although it doesn't look it, it's actually almost 8 inches shorter than a five-door VW Polo).

Which is very good news when it's time to park up because the combination of compact body, short front and rear overhangs and good visibility plus power steering makes quick work of manoeuvring into tight spaces.

With its basic underpinnings based on the dynamically entertaining Swift, the Splash's roadholding performance is good enough to add a rewarding pinch of handling spice to your driving — let's be clear on this point: it's safely chuckable if that's how you want to treat it. The willing engine helps, with a press-on thrummy note when worked hard.

Placing it on the road is simple, courtesy of the lofty view of the road ahead and the accurate steering. Throw in some decent grip and tidy body control and, wherever (and however) you drive it the Splash turns out to be surprisingly good fun.

While the ride is a mite firm, it's not so firm as to disturb your passengers. Importantly, it's never crashy; it rides compliantly over most road surfaces and makes light of town driving.

The cabin is best summed up as 'easy on the eye' thanks to good fit and finish and neat design. It's also easy on the body, with room for four adults to travel without any complaints in supportive, cloth-upholstered seats. The interior is pleasantly airy and the driver can quickly and smoothly set a fine personalised driving position (there's also a sunglasses holder above the driver's door).

“Those consigned to
the rear cabin don’t lose
out, with unexpectedly
generous room for heads,
shoulders and legs and
a restful seatback angle.
And three can co-exist
harmoniously, thanks to
no transmission tunnel
intrusion...
Clearly visible through the upper arc of the steering wheel is a distinctive single dial speedometer displaying driver's information (average fuel consumption, range, etc) and a digital fuel gauge; the rev-counter is a smaller stand-alone item pod-mounted on the fascia and easily visible just above the left-hand upper rim of the steering wheel.

Illumination is clear black on white (red at night) and the controls, buttons (all sensibly large and foolproof) and switchgear are all logically placed and operate with a crisp action.

The gearlever is also well positioned — mounted on the raised centre stack, where it's closer to your left hand. Plus it's a tidy cabin with plenty of built-in space for the 'stuff' we all cart around with us (like Marley's ghost) in our cars thanks to good-sized door bins and various cubby-holes.

Those consigned to the rear cabin don't lose out either, with unexpectedly generous room for heads, shoulders and legs and a restful seatback angle. And three can co-exist harmoniously, thanks to no transmission tunnel intrusion which means ample room for three pairs of feet.

As mentioned elsewhere, mechanical sounds are nicely muted which keeps the overall noise levels acceptably low and adds to the Splash's suitability for everyday family or commuter usability.

So who buys it? Actually, a lot of people do, and for a lot of very good reasons; those in need of a city-centric set of wheels that accommodates an active life at weekends, younger couples (with or without small children), and older drivers who really don't need a huge boot as much as they want economy, easy driveability and effortless parking and entry and exit. — MotorBar

Suzuki Splash 1.2 SZ4 | 11,105
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 49.2mpg
Power: 92bhp | Torque: 87lb ft | CO2 118g/km