Tax-free deal helps mini-MPV make a Splash
Suzuki's mini-MPV, the Splash, is hardly making any waves in the new car market, which is shame. For a small car, it has plenty to shout about and with a current zero VAT offer from the manufacturer (due to expire on March 31), it is one of the cheapest new vehicles you can buy.
First things first though, what is a mini-MPV? We all understand the MPV label when applied to cars like the Renault Scenic, Citroën Picasso and Ford S-Max. They are multi-purpose people and luggage carriers offering good head and legroom. But, surely, shrink them too much and it will be hard to deliver something that lives up to people's expectations? Correct!
The Splash is basically a supermini but taller than average, so it ticks the first box of offering good levels of passenger space. Four adults can travel in comfort, no problem, room for five is claimed and that is actually a possibility, although you will feel it a tight squeeze.
What it doesn't quite manage is the second half of the deal – a decent amount of space for shopping, luggage, etc.
IS YOUR CAR KEY BENT ? REMOTE FOB NOT WORKING ? LOST CAR KEYS ?...View details
FOR ALL YOUR CAR KEY NEEDS CALL US NOW ON
SNAPPED KEYS, LOST KEYS, KEYS LOCKED IN VEHICLES,
WE ALSO REPAIR 90% OF ALL REMOTES AND KEYS, NO FIX NO CHARGE.
Terms: FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY ONE PER CUSTOMER
SAVE £3.00 WITH THIS FREE BATTERY
Contact: 01482 423414
Contact: 01482 423414
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Suzuki says load space with all the seats in use is 178 litres, but 36 litres of that is taken up by an under-floor compartment. So what you are left with is an incredibly small area, too small to take a large case and too small to do a really big supermarket shop. I know, I tried.
So, basically, what we have here is a tall supermini. Judged purely and simply by that description, and dismissing all thoughts of MPVs, I really like the Splash.
It is versatile, cheap and very cheerful and provided there is only two of you to consider, it is more than capable of doing everything you ask of it.
By flipping the back seats down – an incredibly easy, one touch, operation, I hasten to add, that has the seats folding completely flat – you have suddenly got all the room you need, whether that be for shopping or transporting stuff.
We set off the weekend before last to stay with our son and daughter- in-law in London and not only was the car absolutely fine on such a long journey – four hours, including a services stop gives you some idea that we were pushing on – but we were able to fit in suitcase, quilt, bedding and a few other bits and pieces and still feel we could have included more.
At 3.7m in length, 1.7m wide and 1.6m tall, the Splash is tiny but extremely manoeuvrable and great for city driving – I managed to bag some really tight parking spaces in London when necessary.
It is based on a shortened platform to the Suzuki Swift and has been jointly developed with Vauxhall, which markets an almost identical car as the Agila.
Compared with the Agila, however, it is better equipped and that, for me, makes it the best buy. There are three trim grades: SZ2, 3 and 4 and all models offer five doors, CD/tuner with steering wheel-mounted controls, leather- trimmed steering wheel, remote central locking, electric front windows, electrically heated and adjustable mirrors, height- adjustable front seats and tilt-adjustable steering wheel.
SZ3 adds manual air condition while SZ4 trim means alloy wheels, ESP and curtain shield airbags, keyless entry, front foglamps and privacy glass for the rear side windows and tailgate.
Two spirited but highly economical engines are offered: Suzuki's 68PS VVT one litre (Variable Valve Timing) three cylinder unit and latest Dual VVT (inlet and exhaust camshaft) 94 PS 1.2-litre petrol engine, as tested here, that was first used in the Swift, launched in September 2010.
Both engines are tuned and engineered with an emphasis on everyday drivability and cost- effective motoring with combined fuel consumptions of 60.1mpg for the one-litre and 55.4 for the 1.2 litre (automatic 49.6). The one litre emits just 109 g/km CO2 meaning it qualifies for £20 annual road tax, free in the first year, with manual transmission 1.2-litre models costing just £10 more in annual road tax.
Five models make up the Splash range. The one-litre is available in SZ2 and SZ3 trim; the 1.2 model available in either SZ3 or SZ4 grades with optional automatic transmission available on the SZ4.
The Splash's ride is actually rather firm but the steering is light, the turning circle tight and all-round visibility is better than that of many of its rivals. While the one-litre engine is all you will need for city driving, the 1.2-litre as tested is the much better option for any long-distance driving.
I found the seats very upright but incredibly supportive and the driving position very relaxing. Throttle response was pleasingly good and acceleration more than adequate providing you were prepared to work the five-speed gearbox.
Engine and road noise, which I thought might have been a problem, was largely absent, which meant our 450-mile round trip was anything other than a chore.
Which brings me back to where I started – price.
Suzuki's VAT-free campaign means you can buy into a Splash (a one-litre SZ2 model) for £7,999 instead of the normal £9,325 on-the- road price. There are similar savings up the range – my 1.2-litre SZ4 was still coming in at £9,899 instead of £11,879.
That has got to be very tempting and perhaps enough to start attracting new buyers to an often-ignored marque.
The deal ends on March 31.