Suzuki, the world leader in the compact car segment, introduces Splash, an all-new compact model aimed at building on the success of the loveable Swift. Following Swift, Grand Vitara and SX4, Splash is the fourth all new Suzuki model within just three years, and it epitomises Suzuki’s ‘Way of Life!’ philosophy, underpinning its strategy of building cars that excite customers all over the world.
Splash for Europe will be built in Esztergom, Hungary, by Magyar Suzuki Corporation, a Suzuki subsidiary that already builds Swift, SX4 and Ignis. Suzuki will also be manufacturing the second generation Agila for Opel/Vauxhall at this plant. With identical engineering, the main visual differences between Splash and Agila include different styling at front (bonnet, wings, headlamps and bumper) and rear (tailgate, tail lights and bumper).
Suzuki is targeting annual sales of approximately 60,000 units throughout Europe. Opened in 1992, the Esztergom factory has produced over one million Suzukis to date.
Splash cannot be considered to be the successor of the Wagon R+, the enlarged version of the Wagon R which in 1993 was originally developed for the Japanese market, and later also introduced in Europe. “Based on completely different criteria, Splash’s design is mainly tailored to the requirements of European customers,” explains Toshihiro Suzuki, the project’s Chief Engineer. Splash comes with attractive styling, compact dimensions, responsive handling, very good build quality and a high degree of environmental compatibility.
While the focus of Phase One of Suzuki’s “World-Strategy” was on sportiness, Splash is the first model in Phase Two which will focus on young families as its main target group. Apart from fresh and sporty styling, young couples with and without children attach great importance to attributes such as spaciousness, flexibility and economy.
Rather than a purely functional box shape, the designers have endeavoured to provide Splash with styling that lives up to its name, epitomising youthfulness, freshness and zesty, energetic performance.
The styling team for Splash was headed by Akira Kamio (44), who also played a big part in the styling of Swift. As early as 2003, he began to analyse the necessary characteristics for a future European mini-MPV.
It soon became clear that whilst it should not look like a shrunken version of a full-sized MPV this car must keep all of its advantages: the high seating position and resulting good all-round visibility, the pleasant feeling of space and great flexibility allowing the rear compartment to be easily turned into a substantial stowage space.
In order to get up-to-date information, a group of 10 Suzuki designers from Japan travelled to Germany in January, 2004 to spend a period of six months there. They analysed European trends in cars, fashion, lifestyle and design.
Out of their impressions and findings, they finally distilled three models, which, in so called ‘car clinics’, were then presented to audiences of owners of compact cars and small MPVs. In the end, these audiences favoured the model offering the optimum combination of dynamic sportiness with youthful styling, implying a positive attitude to life and maximum suitability for everyday and recreational use.
At the Paris Motor Show in late September 2006, Suzuki presented ‘Project Splash’, a concept car showcasing a taste of the styling of the future production-version Splash. The extremely positive response of the audience confirmed to Akira Kamio and his team that they had taken the right path for Splash.
One thing is certain: Splash will be a major player in the mini-MPV segment. While ideally suited to tight parking conditions, the 3.72 m-long car nevertheless offers sufficient space for up to five occupants plus plenty of sports and leisure equipment.
Apart from attractive styling, a cute minicar also requires the best engineering. This includes safe and precise handling, outstanding ride comfort, a high degree of environmental compatibility, and optimum passive and active safety. Hence Splash uses a 30 mm shorter wheelbase version of the Swift’s platform, Suzuki’s current best seller.
The chassis, steering and brakes were adapted to the new parameters in extensive tests, which included tens of thousands of miles of testing over various types of European roads, from English cobblestones, through twisty southern Spanish tracks to fast German autobahns.
Splash will make its debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September, with sales commencing in Spring, 2008. Customers will have the choice of three engines – two petrol and a diesel. The petrol units are 100% Suzuki designs, a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder unit producing 65 PS (48 kW) and a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine developing 86 PS (63 kW). Both are of advanced four-valve-per-cylinder design, offering a sophisticated combination of smoothness, low-end torque and fuel efficiency.
Diesel fans can choose the 1.3-litre common-rail direct injection engine available with a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter). Producing 75 PS (55 kW), this 4-cylinder unit is manufactured by Suzuki at its new diesel engine plant in India under licence from Fiat Group Automobiles.
All three engines are combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The 86 PS petrol version can also be ordered with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Given the stricter standards now being demanded with respect to environmental compatibility, all engines are Euro4-compliant, with CO2 emissions between 120 and 140 g/km in combination with manual transmissions.
Suzuki has paid great attention to safety measures in the design of Splash. Active safety features include ABS, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and ESP®. Passive safety features include six airbags (dual front side and curtain airbags), a crash-optimised, rigid passenger cell, plus seatbelt-force limiters and seatbelt pretensioners for the front seats. For enhanced pedestrian protection the front end of Splash is fitted with energy-absorbing structures.