I'm in some or other Suzuki so often and I constantly proclaim my love for the diminutive Jimny that many people I know think I work for the brand. That's not a bad thing because I am a fan of a lot of their models, and I'm clearly not alone judging by the info released in December naming Suzuki as the second fastest growing brand in South Africa. They have great cars, their range this will appeal to just about everyone out there covering most motoring needs ranging from budget stuff through to more upmarket stuff. For those not interested in tin tops, the brand is well-known for their brilliant motorbikes so that side of the transportation world is covered too, not forgetting their marine division. Not too long ago I had the Celerio on test, the replacement for the Alto that caters for the budget market, this time around it was the turn of the new Splash, a Suzuki that sits a little higher on the rungs, but just below the Swift.
The Splash was cool to drive, it's a comfortable transporter that's perfect for the daily commute in built up areas and when it comes to town parking it barely takes up any room. The turning circle is nice and small, but then most things I've driven since my Focus have a better turning circle, that Ford had the turning circle of the QEII. The Splash is powered by a 1200cc VVT motor that makes 63kW and 113Nm and it's coupled to a 5-speed gearbox with ratios that try and use the power to it's optimum, an "ideal compromise between response and economy" they say. It does use it well, but I do think it could use a little more power. I found the response and in-gear acceleration of the Celerio to be better even with it's smaller 3-cylinder lump. The Splash feels heavy to drive in comparison, which would make sense because it is a bigger car of course. This was only in 1st gear though, once up and running it was ok. As with most of these small capacity Japanese powerplants, it works best higher up in the rev range, you tend to have to wring it's neck a little bit. Well, you don't have to but for my driving style it's the way I did it. Even with my heavier than usual right foot, the car was returning consumption figures of a near constant 5.7litres/100km. With the wheels far in the corners it handles well, but it's really not the kind of car you'll be chucking through the esses to try and find the limits.
Inside the cabin things are good too. The Splash has all the usual mod cons you'd expect in a new car along with the usual acronyms and safety features (dual airbags up front). The gear lever sits up high which is comfortable to use, and the entertainment system located in the centre console is easy to reach and use thanks to some sizeable, well laid out buttons, but there's no need reach across thanks to controls on the steering. You can plug your media player in as an auxiliary device and play your own music if you haven't yet discovered the cool stations like Mix FM and Hot 91.9. The fit and finish is also good, you can feel it's a step up from the Celerio, but that's not to say the Celerio is bad, it's really good for what it is. The Celerio does manage to beat the Splash in one way - Bluetooth, which is a little strange. The space inside the Splash is impressive, there's more than you think and four full-sized adults can fit comfortably, the headroom is especially good, but that's never been a problem for me. The large white speedo looks cool during the day while at night it lights up orange, which for me gives it a sort of retro feel. Having a tacho is something I need in a car that I'm driving. In the Splash it looks like someone forgot to add the tacho into the mix and realised that the design brief requested one and so added one was added on top of the dash a little to the left of the gauge cluster. I like this but a few people who saw it weren't fans. That said, they were older folk and this car is aimed more at the younger buyer, someone starting out in the world of motoring - and they'll no doubt like this quirky little feature.
The Splash is a new shape on SA roads, but it's been out overseas since around 2008/9. It certainly doesn't look dated though and shares the same design cues as other cars in the range - you can tell it's a Suzuki. It does have a bit of an odd look to it, it's got a narrow but tall shape thanks to having 90mm more on top than the Swift, which is where that extra headroom I mentioned comes from. The weirdest part of the car is it's ass-end. It has a sort of a flat design that sets it apart from the rest of the hatches out there. I like it's ass, and so did most people who had a look at the car, it ended up being a talking point. Again, I think it has more to do with the car's height though so the rear roof spoiler is pretty much in your face, well, it's in mine anyway... Boot space works for daily needs, a holiday luggage setup might struggle a little but for bigger loads the seats do that 60/40 split thing.
The Splash is available in some pretty rad colours, the test model was called Metallic Bakers Chocolate and it got it's fair share of comments during my travels. It seems brown is the new black. Yes, I really did use that line. There's also Mystique Red, Metallic Breeze Blue, Silky Silver and Superior White.
The Suzuki Splash is available in three different setups; the Splash GA MT that comes in at R127 400, the Splash GL MT at R137 400 and then the Splash 1.2 GL AT at R152 400. All of them have the same 1.2-litre engine and all models have Suzuki's standard 2-year / 30 000km service plan and 3-year / 100 000km warranty. Although if you get hold of me I can hook you up with an extended one (Gauteng only) because I'm cool like that. One thing that's worth mentioning is that the Splash and the Swift are very close in terms of pricing, but from my super scientific studies I conducted the data gathered suggests that the ladies prefer the Splash and the chaps prefer the Swift. I actually know someone who has a blue Swift Sport already and his wife has a Mystique Red coming soon. Use that info any way you like...
For more info and specs, head on over to www.suzukiauto.co.za. Once again, thanks to the Megan, Kyleigh and the rest of the Suzuki SA crew for the test car. Y'all rock!