Suzuki Splash 1.2 GL (2014) Review

Suzuki Splash Front

Suzuki recently expanded its model offering in South Africa with the launch of the Suzuki Splash hatchback, bringing its local model count up to eight, including hatchbacks, sedans, MPVs and SUVs. Of all of them, the Suzuki Swift hatchback has proven to be a major success for the brand and Suzuki engineers have reworked a good formula and created yet another small city car, the Splash. The new Suzuki Splash shares the same underpinnings as the Swift and squeezes in rather tightly between the Alto and the entry-level Swift. Is this a wise move? Time and sales will determine this, but is the Splash good enough to take the fight to its competitors?

I spent some time with the Suzuki Splash 1.2 GL to see if it will be able to tread water in this competitive segment.

Cute Styling

The styling of the Suzuki Splash brings a degree of pleasing features to the table. The front-end is dominated by a large two-tier grille, which is flanked by oversize headlight clusters and fog lights are fitted as standard on this GL model. The rear-end features a roof spoiler for extra flair and the short overhangs with a near-vertical tailgate give the Splash a flat-back look. All Suzuki Splash models are fitted with 14-inch steel wheels with wheel covers.

With a height of 1.62m, the Suzuki Splash is no shorty, and in combination with a generous wheelbase of 2.36m, interior space has been maximised. I quite like the large windows, which increases visibility and the sense of space in the cabin. Stylistically speaking, the Splash is a cute looking city car, but may not appeal to everyone.

Back to Basics Interior

Step inside the Suzuki Splash and you are welcomed by a two-tone grey, plastic interior. Comfortable cloth seats offer sufficient support and bolstering, and the tilt-adjustable steering wheel features mounted audio controls for the entertainment system. The driver is faced with a large speedometer which incorporates a digital trip computer display. In the GL model, a periscope-style rev-counter is mounted separately on the dashboard which, is meant to look ‘sporty’ but just looks odd instead.

The buttons and switchgear found on the centre console are reminiscent of a kiddies toy and I feel Suzuki could have done better here, especially when comparing this to the switchgear found on the entry-level Swift.

Thanks to the Splash’s dimensions, rear space is ample with sufficient leg and head room. Boot space is reasonable for this segment at 236 litres and with the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat, storage volume increases to 1 050 litres to the ceiling which could come in handy when loading larger items. In-car storage includes a lidded compartment on the top of the dash, door binnacles with bottle holders, a glove compartment, exposed storage trays and seatback pockets.

Other standard features for the Suzuki Splash include dual front airbags, ABS, electric side mirrors, electric windows, manual air conditioning, USB/auxiliary port and an under passenger seat stowage tray only fitted to the GL model. Overall, the interior is neat and functional, but lacks excitement.

Well-Mannered Drive

The Suzuki Splash is powered by the proven four-cylinder 1.2-litre engine found in the entry-level Swift which offers 63 kW of power and 113 Nm of torque. A five speed transmission is standard across the Splash range but a 4-speed automatic is also available for the GL model.

Acceleration is far from blistering, but for a car this size, weighing 1090 kg, those power figures are more than enough to go about your daily commute with ease. Better still, the ride is smooth and the handling is nimble around the bends. Highway driving is a breeze in the Suzuki Splash and it feels particularly responsive when you need to push on or overtake. The Suzuki Splash is therefore an excellent urban runabout that’s up to the task of niftily navigating busy city roads and highways.

The only gripe I have in terms of driving the Suzuki Splash, is the transmission. The dash-mounted gear lever is stubborn through the gear changes and requires some grappling to select the preferred gear. Other than that, the Splash was a pleasure to drive.

Fuel consumption for the Suzuki Splash manual is claimed to be 5.6L/100km on the combined cycle. In our time with the Splash, 6L/100km was easily achieved making it a relatively economical vehicle to own.

Suzuki Splash - Verdict

Overall, the Suzuki Splash is a good choice to consider in this segment. The engine performs well and returns decent fuel economy and the good ride and handling makes the Splash easy and enjoyable to drive on a daily basis. The Splash comes well specced, particularly in GL trim, and for the money, you're getting a decent product. If you can look past the cheap switchgear and stubborn transmission, then the Splash is a winner.

If you don't fancy the Splash, then the Swift 1.2 GL offers excellent value with a more attractive interior and smoother transmission, all for a few extra pennies.

Compare the Suzuki Splash with its competitors

Second Opinion

Suzuki has a raft of small car offerings within about R30k of each other, the best of which by far is the Swift. The Splash though is a solid little runabout and if your budget won't quite reach to the Swift then it's a viable option. The engine is bulletproof and its quite spacious inside in a mini MPV kind of way. -Ashley Oldfield

Suzuki Splash Price in South Africa

This Suzuki Splash 1.2 GL manual is priced at R134 900. The automatic version will set you back R149 900 and the base model Splash manual is priced at R124 900. A 2-year / 30 000 km service is plan is standard along with a 3-year / 100 000 km warranty.

We Like: . Cute styling . Good engine . Low fuel consumption . Good ride and handling

We Don't Like: . Stubborn transmission . Cheap switchgear . Periscope tachometer

Also Consider: Renault Sandero Hyundai i10 Honda Brio

Suzuki Splash 1.2 GL Quick Specs

Engine 1.2-litre, four-cylinder
Power 63 kW @ 6000 rpm
Torque 113 @ 4 500 rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual
Wheels 14-inch steel rims with wheel covers
0-100km/h 12.3 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed 160 kph
Fuel Economy 5.6-litres / 100km (claimed)
Fuel Tank Capacity 43 Litres