A safe place to be
Suzuki has paid great attention to safety in the design of Splash and active safety features include ABS, brake assist (to boost braking effectiveness during emergency braking) and electronic brake-force distribution.
Recognising the life saving potential of electronic stability systems, Suzuki GB is equipping all Splash models as standard with ESP, part of a company policy to introduce the system progressively on all forthcoming new models and model facelifts. ESP uses selective wheel braking and controls engine output as necessary to stabilise the vehicle if it detects understeer or oversteer situations which could possibly result in total loss of control. ESP also incorporates a traction control feature to prevent wheelspin during standard starts or a loss of grip during sharp acceleration.
The Splash incorporates crushable structures, an energy-dispersing frame, and a crash-optimised high-rigidity cabin. Front seatbelts incorporate a pretensioner and a force limiter and are height adjustable; all three rear seatbelts are 3-point ELR and all roof pillars and roof-side rails are finished in an energy-absorbing trim.
As well as dual front airbags and side airbags incorporated into the front seats, Splash is equipped with full length curtain airbags on all models. Two ISOfix child seat fixtures are provided on the rear seats.
Pedestrian protection measures too have been given careful consideration, and bonnet, wings, wipers and front bumper are all designed to be crushable and to absorb impact energy more progressively, so reducing injury.
Sparkling performance and either 51.4 or 62.8 mpg combined
Customers can choose between two highly economical engines: Suzuki’s own 1.2-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine developing 86 PS (63 kW) and a 75 PS (55 kW) 1.3-litre 4-cylinder common rail turbo diesel supplied by Suzuki’s plant in India where it is built under licence from Fiat.
Both offer a sophisticated combination of smoothness, good low-end torque and fuel efficiency. Specially-tuned, high rigidity mounts, and a host of other measures keep noise and vibration low. For their displacement, the engines are among the smallest in size, yielding more interior space.
Since the Splash is likely to spend much of its time in urban environments or on twisting country roads, the two engines have been selected for their strong performance at low and mid-range engine speeds. The characterful 1.2 with 5-speed manual dispatches 0-62 mph in just over 12 seconds, is capable of a top speed of 109 mph and sips fuel to give over 51 mpg combined.
The 1.3-litre turbo diesel’s superb on-road flexibility is the result of a wide spread of torque peaking at 190 Nm between 1750 and 2250 rpm and effortless progress is matched by a wallet-comforting frugality: combined fuel consumption clocks in at 62.8 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions are just 120 g/km to position the Splash in Band B and annual road tax of just £35.
Both engines are combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox with satisfyingly firm and quick gear shifting, while the petrol engine is also available with a 4-speed automatic transmission. All ratios have been chosen to deliver smooth, comfortable acceleration and fuel economy. The shift levers are mounted relatively high at the bottom of the centre stack for easier, more relaxed operation. Unusually for this category, the automatic has a gated shift lever for a sportier shift feel and appearance.
Secure, entertaining chassis dynamics inherited from Swift
Suzuki’s Swift hatchback has won many plaudits for its entertaining chassis and comfortable ride quality. The new Splash is built on a Swift platform shortened by 20 mm and inherits that car’s strong dynamic qualities.
During the development programme, the chassis was subjected to extensive testing in Germany, the UK and Spain and suspension damping, tyres, and steering assistance have been optimised to achieve a smooth, composed ride whether cruising on motorways, negotiating winding B-roads or merely coping with potholed city streets. A wide track and the 2,360 mm wheelbase mean Splash offers confidence-inspiring stability and characterful handling uncompromised by the relatively tall body.
Steering gearbox, suspension lower arms and rear engine mounting are mounted to a front sub-frame and the resulting rigid structure translates into lower road noise and more precise responses.
MacPherson strut suspension at the front is matched by a torsion beam and coil springs at the rear. The low unsprung weight of the torsion beam arrangement enables effective control of camber angle and toe-in to deliver accurate and predictable handling, while its space-efficient layout plays a key role in achieving a low, flat boot floor.
To round off the driving experience, the steering gearbox provides a direct and precise feel, while the braking system uses particularly rigid callipers for enhanced stopping performance.
Splash’s Design Development
Suzuki did much to pioneer and popularise the mini-MPV phenomenon with the Wagon R and its successor, the larger Wagon R+. Both had a strong visual presence thanks to their physical volume and boxy styling and were unprecedentedly roomy for cars with a modest road footprint; and a high eye point created a sense of openness in the cabin and made driving easy. They proved exceptionally popular, giving rise to competing products from rival manufacturers.
Although Suzuki has used its unique MPV know-how to evolve the genre still further, Splash is effectively a ‘blank canvas’ design and cannot be considered a successor to the Wagon R+ whose predecessor was effectively developed for the Japanese market. The Splash in contrast is predominantly tailored to the requirements of European customers.
Using its experience, Suzuki has created a small MPV that blends the traditional elements of compactness, comfort, and economy with the aerodynamics, handling, and dynamic designs demanded in the European driving environment. As a result, the Splash is a next-generation mini-MPV that meets today's needs in a uniquely effective way.
‘Rather than a purely functional box shape, our design team have endeavoured to provide Splash with styling that lives up to its name, epitomising youthfulness, freshness and a zesty, energetic performance,’ explains Toshihiro Suzuki, the project’s chief engineer.
The styling team for Splash, and its sister car, the Opel/Vauxhall Agila, was headed by chief designer Akira Kamio (44), who also played a big part in the styling of Swift. As early as October 2003, he began to analyse the necessary characteristics for a future European mini-MPV.
It soon became clear that while it should not look like a shrunken version of a full-sized MPV, it should keep all the advantages: the high seating position and resulting good all-round visibility, the pleasant feeling of space and the convenient flexibility, allowing the rear compartment to be easily turned into substantial stowage space.
‘The greatest design challenge with this model was combining more attractive exterior styling and good aerodynamics with highly valued interior attributes,’ explains Kamio.
In January 2004, a group of 10 exterior and interior designers travelled to Germany to spend six months absorbing and analysing European trends in cars, fashion, lifestyle and design. Out of their impressions and findings came three design proposals, which were then presented to audiences of Suzuki distributors and compact MPV owners to help determine the most popular theme and to refine the design direction.
‘Proposal A had a sporty, stable look that didn't emphasise the height of the car; Proposal B had a chic and charming look intended to appeal to female users; and proposal C had a contemporary look that conveyed a sense of the car's functionality,’ says Kamio.
‘Proposal A proved the most popular and we discovered that, with mini-MPVs, people preferred a sporty and emotionally appealing design. Hence we proceeded to make a full-size 1:1 clay model, reflecting our target dimensions, performance, and design requirements based on proposal A.’
The result was ‘Project Splash’ which made its debut at the Paris motor show in September 2006, and which embodied the basic styling theme of the production model, and provided the opportunity to check and validate ideas.
‘With the interior and exterior details, we worked toward emotional appeal in the form of designs that convey youthfulness, liveliness, and enjoyment in line with the “Splash” name,’ explains Kamio. ‘Since Project Splash was a showpiece, we gave it an all-glass roof and emphasised the smooth roof line by adopting chromed pillars that appeared to float in the glass area. The positive response we received at the Paris show gave us confidence in our Splash styling direction.’Published 5 February 2008