Suzuki Splash

Debut: 2007
Maker: Suzuki
Predecessor: no

Designed specially for Europe, Splash looks more stylish and drives better than its Japanese-rooted siblings.

The new Suzuki Splash is a lovely small car, isn't it ? It has all the ingredients that small car buyers want - a cute styling, a spacious interior, modern mechanicals and Japanese reliability. In other words, it is a strong rival to Fiat Panda. European customers will love it, because unlike its predecessor, Wagon R+, it is designed specially for the European market rather than converting from an existing Japanese model. Back in 2003, a team of 10 Japanese designers led by Akira Kamio flew to Germany and stayed there for 6 months to study customer taste and design trend of Western Europe. Then they returned to Japan and designed Splash. This explain why the car looks far more stylish than those boxy small cars Suzuki offered in its home market.

Splash is positioned alongside Swift in the overcrowded small cars lineup of Suzuki. They are about the same price and the same size - Swift has 20 mm longer wheelbase but Splash is 20 mm longer overall. The main difference is their height - the Swift measures a normal 1500 mm, while Splash is some 90 mm taller. Apparently, Suzuki wanted to make the former a normal hatchback and the latter a mini-MPV, something like Renault did to Clio and Modus. Unsurprisingly, both cars are built on the same platform and manufactured in the same factory at Hungary. By the way, Splash is also badge-engineered as Opel / Vauxhall Agila to share costs.


As you would expect for a Kei-car specialist, Suzuki made excellent use of every inch of exterior dimensions to realize a spacious interior. This cabin looks bigger than that of the Swift, thanks to its higher roof. Passengers enjoy an extra headroom ranging from 24-31 mm yet their hip point (the height of seating position) is 50 mm higher than in Swift. As a result, it is more comfortable to sit and offers excellent visibility. Its rear seats provide more legroom than Panda and easily disgraces Toyota Aygo. There are also plenty of storage cubbies in the cabin. The cabin design is stylish and colorful, good enough to compensate for the hard plastics it employs.

Predictably, the tall Splash is not as driver-oriented as Swift, but thanks to a firm suspension setting, it doesn't roll as much as you would expect in corners. On the downside, the ride is harsher and noisier on bumpy surfaces, lacking the refinement of Fiat Panda. Suzuki spent some time to test and tune its suspensions on German and Spanish roads, so its handling is much better than the previous Wagon R+. While it is not especially interesting to drive, it is easy and safe to handle.

Performance is perhaps the biggest weakness of Splash. Because keen drivers are supposed to be taken care by Swift, Suzuki decided that Splash should be powered by smaller engines to emphasize fuel economy. This mean the most powerful engine is a 1.2-liter 16V, which produces 86 horsepower only. The entry level engine is a 997 cc 3-cylinder with 65 horsepower. Both Japanese motors are sweet-revving, but they just lack the necessary capacity, hence torque, to ease overtaking. Fortunately, it also offers a Fiat 1.3-liter common-rail turbo diesel built under license. This 75 hp / 140 lb-ft unit is easily the gustiest engine of the car.

The Splash didn't set any new standards for quality, refinement or driving dynamics. That's why it won't be considered as a new class leader like Fiat Panda did a few years ago. However, its spacious interior and stylish look are what the Fiat can't match. It is also as cheap to purchase and run as the Italian car. All these factors make it a serious contender in the A-segment.

The above report was last updated on 6 Nov 2007. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks

Splash 1.0
Splash 1.2
Splash 1.3D
Front-engined, FWD
Front-engined, FWD Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel monocoque Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
Mainly steel Mainly steel
Length / width / height 3720 / 1680 / 1590 mm 3720 / 1680 / 1590 mm 3720 / 1680 / 1590 mm
Wheelbase 2360 mm 2360 mm 2360 mm
Inline-4 Inline-4, diesel by FIAT
997 cc
1242 cc 1248 cc
Valve gears
DOHC 12 valves
DOHC 16 valves
DOHC 16 valves
Other engine features
Max power
65 hp / 6000 rpm
86 hp / 6000 rpm
75 hp / 3500-4000 rpm
Max torque
66 lbft / 4000 rpm
84 lbft / 4000 rpm
140 lbft / 1750 rpm
5-speed manual
5-speed manual 5-speed manual
Suspension layout
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
Suspension features
- -
Tyres front/rear
185/60R15 185/60R15 185/60R15
Kerb weight
975 kg
990 kg
1085 kg
Top speed
99 mph (c)
109 mph (c)
103 mph (c)
0-60 mph (sec)
13.2 (est)
11.5 (est)
12.5 (est)
0-100 mph (sec)
Performance tested by: -

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