Suzuki Splash 1.2 GLS

Japanese car promises to make waves in this competitive market.

  • The Splash is still great fun to drive, both in town and on the open road and getting comfortable is easy.
  • It’s disappointing that the awkward arrangement of the quarter light windows restricts your vision at junctions.

The Splash is Suzuki’s fourth new model in three years. That’s some product offensive, with the city car following on from the Swift, Grand Vitara and SX4. The brand’s latest generation of cars has clearly been styled to appeal to European tastes.

As with the Agila it’s sporty, but although the two models look similar at first glance, there are more differences than you’d expect. At the back, the Splash has its own distinctive tailgate and lights, although what really sets it apart is the front. The headlights, bumper, bonnet and grille are all unique to the Suzuki, and we think it has a cleaner look that echoes the Swift supermini.

The styling certainly comes across as more sporty, and due to the clever design, the Splash manages to hide its near-1.6-metre height even better than the Agila. But it shares the same well planted stance and wide track, and is just as easy to manoeuvre into small parking spaces.

Inside, the youthful feel continues. The car is built at Suzuki’s factory in Hungary, and so the cockpit has far more in common with the Swift than any Vauxhall. The large round speedo takes cues from the MINI, while the pod-style rev counter is clearly influenced by Smart.

Depending on the shade of paint customers choose for the exterior, they can also specify body-coloured seat and dash inserts. But surprisingly, black or grey upholstery are the only options in our bright Splash Green test car. The vibrant blue finish in the Agila is much more uplifting.

The quality of the cabin materials is good when you consider the price tag – the Splash feels very well put together indeed. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the car in our pictures is a GLS+ rather than the GLS we tested. But there’s not a lot of difference between them; the latter does without privacy glass, as well as alloy wheels and front foglights, and saves you £500 in the process.

The boot features the same 36-litre underfloor compartment as the Agila, while the rear seats fold down in a similar way. As in the Vauxhall, passenger space is generous, while the wide-opening doors make access easy – useful if you have child seats to fix in place.

Under the bonnet, Splash buyers get the same engine options as those who go for the Agila – with the exception of the sluggish 1.0-litre. The 1.2-litre petrol in our car is smooth and refined, with decent low-end torque, while a precise action makes the five-speed gearbox enjoyable to use.

A heavier kerbweight meant the Suzuki was marginally slower than the Vauxhall at the test track – it covered 0-60mph in 12.9 seconds to the Agila’s 12.7 seconds – and trailed in our in-gear assessments, too. This is partly down to the fact that our car had barely any miles on the clock; nevertheless, it was far quicker than the i10.

As the Splash is built on a shortened version of the excellent Swift platform, it’s entertaining to drive. The newcomer is smooth and composed, and a surprisingly good motorway cruiser, while on back roads it delivers decent grip and body control. Under the skin, the Suzuki and Vauxhall are identical in terms of suspension, damper and steering set-ups, although we found the steering on our Splash a bit lighter.

While neither model can match the £7,900 i10 for price, the Suzuki is closer at £8,999. It doesn’t come with alloys or electric rear windows, but it wins hands down in terms of safety, with six airbags and stability control as standard.

Details

Price: £8,999Model tested: Suzuki Splash 1.2 GLSChart position: 1WHY: Splash shares platform with Agila, and Suzuki hopes low price and high spec will win customers.

Economy

There was less than 1mpg between the Vauxhall and Suzuki’s economy. Our Splash hadn’t racked up many miles, which goes some way to explaining its 39.8mpg return. But it was still more efficient than the Hyundai.

Residuals

Resale values have yet to be calculated for the Suzuki, although it’s likely to perform much better than the previous Wagon R, which retains only 34 per cent of its price new. The Splash should be more on par with the Agila.

Servicing

As the two cars are near-identical, we were surprised the Splash has shorter service intervals than the Agila – it needs attention every 9,000 miles. The Suzuki is also pricier to maintain, with three visits totalling £660.

Tax

As all three models sit in the lowest 15 per cent company car tax bracket, list price is the deciding factor in their annual bills. Lower-band business users who choose the Suzuki will have to shell out only £297 a year.

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