First drive: Suzuki Splash

09 October 2007

  • New Suzuki supermini driven
  • 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel
  • Car on sale March 2008


Let's skip the corny jokes about making a Splash, shall we? This new Suzuki is meant to be a fun car, but one with a serious purpose.

The Splash is based on the Swift, Suzuki's European-built supermini that's targeted at young singles and couples.

Splash – taller and squarer – aims to snap up young families for whom the Swift just isn't practical enough.

Engine line-up
It shares the Swift's platform and suspension, but it's more than just a re-bodied version of an existing car.

The engines – a 65bhp 1.0-litre that's not coming to the UK, an 86bhp 1.2 available with manual or automatic transmission and a 75bhp version of Fiat's 1.3-litre turbodiesel that Suzuki now makes for itself under licence in India – are unique to Splash.

So is much of the interior trim and the funky colour schemes (turquoise seat and door inserts, anyone?).

Given its Swift roots, it's no surprise it delivers a decent drive.

It may be taller, but it doesn't sway around excessively, the ride is firm but nothing you can't live with (though the rear axle clatters noisily over bumps) and the steering's decently direct.

The diesel's best in this regard: more consistent and weighty.

The engines destined for the UK are refined and lively, too.

The diesel impresses most for its lusty urge, but most British buyers will never make it pay for them. The good news is that the petrol 1.2 is no poor second-best.

The car's CO2 figures are disappointing, though. None scrapes under the motor industry's Holy Grail of 120g/km – poor in a small, light car.

In the cabin
How small? Just over 3.7 metres, yet despite this you can get four people in with relative ease, though there's not much baggage space, though. A one-movement flat-folding split rear seat lends some versatility. Everyone sits higher than in the Swift, so the gearlever has been relocated to the centre console to make it more accessible.

It's all rather jolly, marred by just a few details. The rev counter sticks out of the dash on a stalk, Cyclops-like; the seat backrest adjuster is a lever rather than a more convenient hand wheel; the door-grab plastics aren't up to the quality of those you'll touch less frequently on the fascia; and the indicators squeak dementedly rather than emitting a familiar click. Not bad, all the same.

Agila and Splash
There's more to the Splash than meets the eye, for with just a few exterior panel and interior trim changes it will also become the next Vauxhall Agila.

Suzuki will even build it for Vauxhall/Opel at its Hungarian factory, alongside the Splash.

The big difference between them is that the Agila will offer the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in the UK and be priced as a budget car to slot in below the Corsa.

Suzuki plans to take the Splash a bit more upmarket, with GL and GLX trim levels and six airbags, stability control and air conditioning fitted to every model.

The Splash will be on sale here next March from an estimated £8000.

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