A splash of ge­nius

BRIAN BAS­SETT dives into the deep end with the Suzuki Slash 1.2GA

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

RIS­ING oil prices, a world­wide trend by gov­ern­ments to use petrol as a cash cow by tax­ing it heav­ily and the growth in of the num­ber of peo­ple who can af­ford cars has led to man­u­fac­tur­ers to pro­duce a wide range of small ve­hi­cles.

At first the mo­tor­ing press re­sponded ar­ro­gantly to th­ese en­try-level ve­hi­cles by call­ing them “econoboxes” and per­haps the first gen­er­a­tion of th­ese ve­hi­cles de­served that ti­tle but, over time, the mir­a­cle of industrial de­sign has turned th­ese small cars into highly de­sir­able ad­di­tions to any pri­vate garage and th­ese days they are filled with a high level of tech­nol­ogy re­lat­ing both to per­for­mance and safety.

The Suzuki Splash is one of the lat­est of­fer­ings in this mar­ket seg­ment and I am grate­ful to Gary Stokes, dealer prin­ci­pal of Honda Fury in the city for al­low­ing me a few days with the car.

STYLING

The Splash is a good look­ing four-seater hatch­back with easy flow­ing lines and a chic pres­ence. At the front end it re­minded me of the Honda Jazz, but with larger head­light clus­ters and fog lamps.

From the cur­va­ceous front end the roofline rises to­wards the rear al­low­ing for gen­er­ous wind­screen and win­dow spa­ces, which give en­hanced visibility.

At the rear the roof cuts off dramatically to the tail­gate, which gives the ve­hi­cle an aero­dy­namic look. The rear is largely dom­i­nated by the tail light clus­ters, which frame the rear win­dow and give a sense of com­plete­ness to the rear de­sign.

IN­TE­RIOR

The in­te­rior of the Splash is much larger than I ex­pected and the er­gonomics are ex­cep­tional. The driver’s seat is fully ad­justable and com­fort­able and this is en­hanced by an ad­justable steer­ing col­umn. Pas­sen­ger seats are also com­fort­able and a higher seat­ing po­si­tion for all pas­sen­gers pro­motes safer driv­ing and eas­ier park­ing.

I have al­ways been a lit­tle sus­pi­cious about legroom in the rear of small cars, so I bor­rowed two sons of a friend, who at 15 and 17 re­spec­tively, are taller than I am. The front seats re­quired some ad­just­ment, but in a short while ev­ery­one was com­fort­able and no one had any com­plaints af­ter a 40-minute drive,

The dash­board slopes away from the pas­sen­gers to cre­ate an airy feel­ing. In­te­rior plas­tics are ro­bust and would ap­pear durable, and seat cov­er­ings and in­te­rior up­hol­stery are ex­e­cuted in a good qual­ity, if some­what dark pat­terned cloth. The dash­board is fin­ished in a metal­lic-sil­ver bor­der with a large, cir­cu­lar speedometer, lo­cated centrally be­hind the steer­ing wheel. An LCD dis­play in the speedometer in­cludes a wide va­ri­ety of in­for­ma­tion like tem­per­a­ture, odome­ter, fuel con­sump­tion and range.

There is also a sep­a­rate rev counter placed above the dash, which looks like an af­ter­thought, but works well.

The ra­dio/CD/Aux/MP3 player with speed sens­ing vol­ume con­trol will ap­peal to younger own­ers, as will the three-spoke steer­ing wheel with builtin ra­dio con­trols. The dash­board con­trols are eas­ily op­er­ated with­out driver dis­trac­tion. All win­dows are elec­tric, as are the side mir­rors and a mas­ter con­trol panel for th­ese is built into a shelf in the driver’s door.

Boot space is 236 litres with the rear seats in place, but with the rear seats folded down in a 60/40 split this ex­pands to a gen­er­ous 462 litres.

SAFETY AND SE­CU­RITY

Th­ese days any­one who has ven­tured on to the N3 knows the im­por­tance of safety. The Splash is equipped with a range of safety de­vices in­clud­ing front dual airbags and ABS, as well as seat belts for all with the front belts hav­ing pre­ten­sion­ers and force lim­iters.

There are head re­straints for all pas­sen­gers, front and side door beams, as well as multi re­flec­tor, man­u­ally-lev­elled head­lamps. From a se­cu­rity point of view the Splash has an alarmed, key­less en­try sys­tem, power door locks an elec­tric back door lock and driver ac­ti­vated child locks.

PER­FOR­MANCE AND HAN­DLING

The Splash is a city car ideal for tak­ing the kids to school, shop­ping and com­mut­ing to the of­fice with­out break­ing the bank. The 1,2 litre, four-cylin­der, 16 valve en­gine of­fers 63 kW of power and 113 Nm of torque. Zero to 100 km/h comes up in about 12 sec­onds and top speed is around 160 km/h. The power steer­ing is pre­cise and you feel in con­trol at all times, while park­ing the ve­hi­cle even at peak shop­ping times, is no prob­lem. On the high­way, as with most small en­gines, I found I had to work the gears, but pass­ing ar­tic­u­lated ve­hi­cles and as­cend­ing steep hills is eas­ily done.

The Splash also comes in an auto op­tion, which will fur­ther en­hance the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Fuel con­sump­tion is claimed to be 5,6 litres per 100 km. The ve­hi­cle I drove recorded 6,6 litres, but then I have a heavy foot.

COST, GUAR­AN­TEES AND THE COM­PE­TI­TION

The en­try level Splash 1.2 GA will cost you about R125 000 and the range top­ping 1.2lGL auto comes in at R150 000. There is a three-year/100 000km man­u­fac­turer’s guar­an­tee, a six-year an­ti­cor­ro­sion cover and a two-year 30 000 km ser­vice plan. This is a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket seg­ment so also con­sider the Chev Spark, Kia Pi­canto, Hyundai Grand i10 and Peu­geot 107.

“Th­ese days any­one who has ven­tured on to the N3 knows the im­por­tance of safety. The Splash is equipped with a range of safety de­vices in­clud­ing front dual airbags and ABS, as well as seat belts for all with the front belts hav­ing pre­ten­sion­ers and force lim­iters.”

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The Suzuki Slash 1.2GA is a city car ideal for the school and shop­ping run and will not break the bank.

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