SUZUKI MAKES A SPLASH WITH NEW MINI-MPV.
IT is difficult to think of many cars which have made such a big stride forward from one generation to the next as Suzuki has with this Splash which is a world away from its predecessor, the Wagon R.
Even the name is redolent of a fun and freshness conspicuously lacking in its forerunner which had an unimaginative name matching its uninspiring character.
The Splash is all new, a total break from the past save that it too is a compact, practical mini-MPV with a raised seating area. It looks really smart and stylish, a theme carried over to the interior, has either petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic gearboxes. Common to all are good fuel consumption and low running costs.
It is difficult not to like the Splash from the moment you set eyes on it. As with the Vauxhall Agila with which it shares its underpinnings, the car is cute and exudes a large fun factor. It’s fresh and vibrant and will appeal to a much younger audience than did the Wagon R. At the risk of labouring the point, the Splash’s looks really do give the car a lift and point to a new generation of more stylish cars from Suzuki.
It is quite short which bodes well for squeezing into tight parking spaces, but is a bit taller than the norm which means occupants sit a little higher and the benefits of this are two-fold. One is that there is more leg room and the second is improved visibility, helped by the generous glass area.
Inside too are loads of useful little storage areas such as a sunglass holder and a box on the console ahead of the gear lever for mobile phones and an under-seat tray and there is even a waterproof compartment under the boot floor where you can stow muddy boots or clothes. The rear seats can be lowered at the flick of a single lever.
Behind the wheel, the Splash is a pleasant car to drive. The high-mounted gear lever falls easily to hand, the visibility is excellent all-round which makes it easy to place in bends and to park without fear of knocking the extremities and I liked the rev counter mounted in its own little pod on top of the dashboard. This is a design tweak that seems to be catching on because the Renault Twingo has one too.
There is a choice of engines, either a 1.2 petrol or a 1.3 diesel which return an average of 51 ad 63 mpg respectively, and while a five-speed manual gearbox is standard there is the option of an auto’ box with the petrol version.
Equipment levels generally are good but one point worth making is that the Splash has a lot of safety features. Standard across the range is ESP, the electronic stability programme that helps the river retain control in emergency manoeuvres such as a sudden lane-change at motorway speeds and having that factory fitted on every model is a very welcome surprise in this end of the market.
Standard too on every car are six airbags and the combination of all that plus the improved visibility that comes from sitting that little bit higher makes the Splash pretty safe and that should be a factor in your buying decision.
On the road the Suzuki rides smoothly and as with the mechanically similar Vauxhall Agila, I found it to be easy and quite enjoyable to drive. It’s nippy enough in urban traffic and bowIs along nicely on the main roads.
Overall I found the Splash to be another fine car from Suzuki and a worthy addition to its already impressive car range.
Prices from £8,999 to £10,510.