It’s raining Suzukis. Just this year Suzuki Auto South Africa launched three new models: the SX4 small SUV, the Ertiga 7-seater and this week the cute and affordable Suzuki Splash hatchback.

Suzuki SA says the newcomer is aimed at a wide range of buyers —  from singles and young families to empty nesters. It adds that a compact footprint, tall roofline, comparatively long wheelbase and short overhangs create a surprisingly spacious and practical interior. We’ll test drive it to see if it lives up to it.

The Splash is powered by the 1,2-litre four-cylinder engine also fitted to entry-level Swift hatchback models and the Swift D-Zire sedan. It’s mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic transmission.

Suzukis offer good value for money and the Splash is well equipped. The base line GA derivative features dual airbags and ABS brakes, while the GL version includes additional comfort and convenience items.

"The new Suzuki Splash fills a gap between our entry-level Alto minicar and the successful Swift subcompact hatchback," says Francois van Eeden, national marketing manager at Suzuki Auto SA.

"It provides a level of space and practicality not usually available in the minicar segment. But it's also fun to drive, thanks to its agile road manners and composed ride. At the same time, its efficient drivetrain keeps running costs low,” he adds.

At 3 775 mm long the Splash is 75mm shorter than the Swift (3 850 mm) and yet it has a slightly bigger boot: 236 litres against the Swift’s minute 210 litres. The Splash’s wheel base is slightly shorter too, but it’s taller than the Swift. How this will affect handling we’ll have to see. All Splash models ride on 14-inch steel wheels with full-sized styled wheel covers.

Suzuki says the Splash has ample legroom and headroom to provide seating for five adult occupants, although three full-size South Africans on the rear bench sounds optimistic. The high, extended roofline allows the seating positions to be raised, which benefits all-round visibility, while it also means that the doors are larger, which benefits convenient entry and exit, a media release says. Head restraints are standard front and rear.

The layout of the controls and instruments places the emphasis on user-friendly ergonomics, with a single, large analogue speedometer positioned directly ahead of the driver. The white-faced dial also incorporates a digital information display, indicating range, average fuel consumption and instant fuel consumption, as well as incorporating dual trip meters. In the case of the GL models, a separate rev counter adds a sporty element.

The controls for the air-conditioning and the integrated audio system (in the case of the GL models) are centrally located, while the high-mounted gear shift lever is within easy reach. The GL gets steering wheel-mounted audio controls and the front passenger seat has an under-seat, slide-out tray. All derivatives have cloth upholstery with contrasting inserts.

The 60/40 split rear bench seat provides a versatile range of seating versus cargo area combinations. Folding down both seat sections creates a generous, flat-floored cargo area with a total volume of 1 050 litres to roof height. A low loading sill eases access when loading bulky or heavy objects.

All models are fitted with dual front airbags as standard, together with side impact protection beams in the doors, and inertia reel seatbelts for both the front and the two outer rear seating positions. The centre rear seating position is equipped with a lap belt, while the front seat belts have pre-tensioners and load limiters. Also standard across all Splash models is ABS anti-lock braking for the front disc/rear drum brake system. Central locking is standard, with keyless entry offered on GL models.

All three models in the Splash range are powered by the same 1,2-litre four-cylinder engine, with a maximum output of 63 kW at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 113 Nm at 4 500 r/min. Despite being smaller than the Swift, the Splash does have a bigger kerb weight than its sibling, according to Suzuki’s spec sheets: The 1.2 manual Swift weighs a mere 960 kg, where the manual Splash lugs an extra 100 kg around. The five-speed manual model accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 12,3 seconds, while top speed is 160 km/h. The Splash is frugal: the manual derivatives average of 5,6 litres/100 km and the auto and 6,4 litres/100 km.

The underpinnings of the Splash are based on the Swift’s, so it should have the same compliant ride and agile road manners. The rack-and-pinion steering is electrically assisted in the interests of efficiency, while the turning circle of just 9,4 metres is slightly smaller than that of the Swift. The independent front suspension consists of MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar, while the rear layout employs a space-saving torsion beam with coil springs and dampers.

The Suzuki Splash model range consists of three derivatives, with a choice of two transmissions and two specification levels. The most affordable member of the line-up is the Splash 1.2 GA, but it still boasts a decent list of standard features. This version is only available with the five-speed manual transmission.

The GA\'s list of comfort and convenience features includes air-conditioning and key-operated central locking. The Splash 1.2 GL is offered with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. Externally, the key distinguishing features include colour-coded door handles, front fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. An extended standard features list includes a rev counter in addition to the large speedometer, a four-speaker CD/radio audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs, and audio controls on the tilt-adjustable three-spoke steering wheel. In addition, GL models gain keyless entry, electric windows, and a heated rear screen with wipe/wash system. The front passenger seat also gains an under-seat stowage tray.

The Suzuki Splash is sold with a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a two-year/30 000 km service plan. Scheduled services are at 15 000 km intervals.


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