A splash of genius
BRIAN BASSETT dives into the deep end with the Suzuki Slash 1.2GA
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.
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.
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.”
The Suzuki Slash 1.2GA is a city car ideal for the school and shopping run and will not break the bank.