In-depth Reviews

Suzuki Splash hatchback (2008-2014)

“The Suzuki Splash is good to drive and has masses of space and style, but a small boot limits its appeal.”

Carbuyer Rating

2.6 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Smart styling
  • Lots of space inside
  • Low running costs

Cons

  • Limited boot space
  • Slow on the motorway
  • Noisy interior

Suzuki do know how to make a good small car – and the Suzuki Splash, along with its sister car, the Vauxhall Agila, use a high roof to create extra space and practically. The Splash is another example of Suzuki's ability to maximise space and efficiency, and while It may look cute, it gets plenty of passenger room in both the front and the back. Alas, the boot is much too small to satisfy families on long holidays, so limits its horizons slighty. The interior is a bit drab, too, but is suitably well built. You get to choose from three engines – all of which are cheap to run but don’t offer any real performance to speak of. The Suzuki Splash comes in three main specifications – entry-level SZ2, mid-range SZ3, and top-of-the-range SZ4.

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MPG, running costs & CO2

Even the least economical engine returns impressive mpg

It won’t cost a huge amount to drive the Splash, even though it doesn’t get near the kind of fuel economy figures that the really efficient cars on the market offer. But even the least efficient 1.2-litre petrol – which produces 93bhp – can return 55.4mpg in fuel economy. If you go for the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol then the economy improves, going up to 60.1mpg. You won’t have to pay more than £120 in annual road tax for the 1.2-litre automatic model thanks to CO2 emissions of 131g/km, while the rest of the range qualifies for zero first year showroom tax, while insurance rates are generally very low.

Engines, drive & performance

The tiny Splash feels rather nippy around town

The driving position inside the Suzuki Splash is surprisingly good for a car with these diminutive dimensions – which really does make it feel more like a bigger car thanks to its tall roof. You don’t get any reach adjustment for the steering wheel, however, which is a shame, but this is compensated for slightly, by the high placement of the gear stick up on the dashboardtw. For such a tall and narrow car, there’s hardly any body roll when driving around corners, and the Splash remains very stable, even under reasonably heavy braking. All-round visibility is pretty good, even if the small rear windscreen can cause some problems seeing out of the back, especially when reverse parking. Neither of the two engines (1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol) is particularly powerful, but they are zippy enough for driving around town.

Interior & comfort

All the engines can be a bit noisy at motorway speeds

It’s a small car, and you do have to manage your expectations when it comes to comfort inside such compact dimensions. However, the Splash’s high roofline does improve matters and the little Suzuki isn't that bad at all. The engines generally run quietly, especially as low speeds, while wind and tyre noise are kept at bay by some effective insulation. Get on the motorway, however, and those sound levels begin to rise and intrude on your peace and quiet inside. Long drives can also get a bit fidgety and annoying thanks to the suspension resulting in a somewhat firm ride, but quick jaunts around town are perfectly fine.

Practicality & boot space

Four six-foot-plus adults will fit but their luggage won't

The Splash is reasonably practical, with four six-foot-plus adults being able to fit inside comfortably. However, the boot only offers 178 litres of space, which is hardly going to handle all the luggage of those four passengers. It does expand to 573 litres when you fold down the standard-fit split-fold back seat, but that’s hardly going to threaten any of the class leaders - even the Ford Fiesta boasts more boot space. In the front, you don’t even get a proper glove compartment, having to make do with a storage shelf instead. It’s 1.6m height does mean wide doors that are easy to get in and out of, but restricted visibility from a so-so driving position makes some basic manoeuvres like reverse parking more difficult than they need to be.

Reliability & safety

Surprisingly, Suzuki doesn't fare well for reliability

Suzuki dropped back three places in the manufacturers rankings of the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, having clawed five spots up the list in 2012 to come 26th. Landing at 29 meant it was three places off the very bottom, which is very disappointing – especially for a Japanese manufacturer usually famed for reliability. The Splash itself doesn’t rank in the survey’s list of top 150 cars sold in the UK, but that may down to lack of ownership making it ineligible as much as a poor reliability record. It does come with a decent level of safety equipment, including four airbags as standard, including driver and front passenger. The top-of-the-range SZ4 models come fitted with electronic stability control (ESP) and adds curtain airbags, while all models feel generally well engineered. One note for pause is the car’s four-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, when nearly all modern cars are awarded the maximum five stars – even more troubling, it was only given a three-star rating for its child occupant protection, which could well put off prospective family buyers.

Price, value for money & options

We'd recommend going for the SZ4 for better standard equipment

The Suzuki Splash is reasonably well equipped for the price, but it’s worth noting that the entry-level SZ2 model doesn’t come with air-conditioning. It’s not quite as basic as something like an entry-level Dacia – which doesn’t get a radio either – but the we’d still recommend going for the the more expensive SZ4, which adds alloy wheels as well as other mod-cons and accessories. But given the amount of space you get inside the cabin, it doesn’t feel like a waste of money by any stretch of the imagination. Resale values on the used car market are so-so, however, so don’t expect a big return from any second-hand deals when you do come to sell.

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