Suzuki Splash mini-MPV

Suzuki Splash mini-MPV  
Filed under:
Minivans/MPVs, Suzuki
on 02/06/2008

Source: Suzuki

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Splash is Suzuki’s all-new mini-MPV with bags of practicality and youthful, vibrant styling designed specifically for the European market. At just over 3.7 m long, Splash is compact enough to manoeuvre with ease through narrow streets or to slot into tight parking spots. Yet on the inside its elevated driving position means it can comfortably seat five adults with plenty of legroom and luggage space, at the same time providing a great view of the road.

The eye-catching design, packed with interesting shapes and curves, successfully pulls off that often tricky combination of sporty styling and a relatively tall body. Strongly flared wings, a bold nose and a flowing roof line are all key elements in creating Splash’s friendly, endearing personality.

Inside, there’s an equally lively cabin treatment, with stylish silver trim elements and, depending on the body colour, a splash of added colour in the form of turquoise, blue, or light grey inserts on the fascia, doors and seats. Further distinction is provided by the sporty angled centre console, large diameter speedo with black numerals on a white background and a novel tachometer that sits on top of the dash in its own individual housing.

That high seating position makes for easy entry and exit, while folding down the 60:40 split rear seat opens up 573 litres of luggage space (VDA), including a handy waterproof compartment beneath the boot floor. Naturally there are lots of cubbies and places to stash possessions dotted about the cabin.

Petrol or diesel

Two spirited but highly economical engines are offered: Suzuki’s 86 PS 1.2-litre petrol engine and a punchy 75 PS 1.3-litre turbo diesel built in Suzuki’s new engine plant in India under licence from Fiat, mated to a quick-shifting 5-speed manual transmission; a 4-speed automatic is also available for the petrol model.

Both engines are tuned and engineered with an emphasis on everyday driveability and both offer cost-effective motoring, with combined fuel consumptions of 51.4 (automatic 47.9) and 62.8 mpg respectively. The diesel also emits just 120 g/km of CO2 which means it qualifies for £35 annual road tax, while a diesel particulate filter virtually eliminates any unburnt particles.

The Splash is designed to make day-to-day city driving a pleasure, and it uses the highly acclaimed Swift platform to deliver the same fun-to-drive character, with agile, confidence-inspiring handling.

Four models make up the new Splash range. The 1.2 model comes in either GLS or GLS+ grades; an automatic transmission is available on the GLS+ model and the fourth model is the 1.3 DDiS whose specification is identical to GLS+ grade.

Step up from GLS to either GLS+ or DDiS and you get 15 inch alloys, front foglamps and privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate. That’s on top of an equipment list that includes a CD tuner with MP3 player and steering wheel-mounted audio controls; leather-trimmed steering wheel; remote central locking; front electric windows with driver’s auto-down; manual air conditioning; electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors; height-adjustable front seats; tilt adjustable steering wheel; and an information display.

ESP® and curtain airbags standard

Splash will also be one of the safest cars in its class – all models are equipped with six airbags – including two full length curtain airbags – and ESP® electronic stability as standard – reflecting Suzuki GB’s policy to make ESP® a universal fitment on all new models and all major facelifts.

Splash: the fresh, stylish car for couples or families

Following Swift, Grand Vitara and SX4, Splash is Suzuki’s fourth all new model within just three years, and epitomises Suzuki’s ‘Way of Life!’ philosophy that underpins its strategy of building cars that appeal to a universal audience. Like its siblings, Splash incorporates strong European design themes, a key element in Suzuki’s worldwide product development strategy.

While the first phase of that strategy focused on sporting performance, leading Swift, Grand Vitara and SX4 to success, Splash is the first product to emerge from the second development phase, which focuses on couples of all ages and young families as its main target groups.

As a result, this all-new compact delivers the desirability of fresh design, an exuberant spirit and a fun to drive nature, blending them with the practicality and spaciousness demanded by the wide-ranging interests and activities of the average couple or family. Indeed, Splash is designed to cross boundaries and offer something for all ages and driving enjoyment for every member of the family.

The Splash and the Vauxhall/Opel Agila were engineered in Japan with initial styling work, extensive chassis development and driving evaluations carried out in Europe by Suzuki. Styling of those elements unique to each model – headlamps, grille, bonnet, front wings, tailgate, taillights and rear bumper – was carried out by the two respective parties.

Both models are built by Magyar Suzuki Corporation in Esztergom, Hungary, alongside the Suzuki Swift, SX4 and Ignis.

Suzuki is targeting annual sales of approximately 60,000 units throughout Europe.

Why Splash?

You could put any number of interpretations on the name ‘Splash’, but it could signify the impact the car will make and of course its connotations of running water do also suggest a certain sparkling freshness…..

A mini-MPV that exudes style

Splash’s chic exterior styling skilfully strikes a balance between form and function. Despite its average mini-MPV height of almost 1.6 m, Suzuki designers have successfully avoided a design that appears overly tall. Key elements are boldly protruding, arched wings near the extreme corners of the body which convey a strong sense of stability and sure-footedness.

In the pursuit of a sporty, intrepid look, that well-planted stance is complemented by the use of sharp, angular elements in the side window profile, in the expressive three cylinder headlamps, and in the high-mount rear combination lamps which are shaped to visually express splashes of water in keeping with the name of the car.

The distinctive frontal treatment features a multifaceted nose with corners that sweep back and a prominent front grille which continues above and below the bumper line and whose lines flow back into the edges of the bonnet. Front foglamps, standard on GLS+ and DDiS, are set into apertures flanking the lower grille.

Sculpted, three-dimensional curves are used extensively and the rising character lines that flow along the sides of the body to the tailgate create a bold and visually appealing form which is hard to achieve with a car as small as Splash. The flowing roof line is combined with an almost vertical rear window to convey a sense of lively movement and to give the cabin an elongated look, at the same time boosting aerodynamic efficiency (Splash has a drag coefficient of 0.32).

Compact dimensions – overall length is 3730 mm, just 20 mm up on Swift – mean the Splash remains a highly manoeuvrable proposition about town and the turning circle is just 9.4 m.

The Splash is offered in 10 colours, two of which in particular were selected to express the spontaneous energy of the Splash name – Splash Green, a lime green with a touch of blue and Lagoon Turquoise.

Matching vibrant interior

“Youthful” and “practical” were key themes adopted by the design team during the development of the interior and perfectly describe a cockpit that combines superior space utility with a bold, creative design.

In keeping with the car’s exuberant styling, customers can, depending on the colour of their car, choose a vibrant two-tone interior treatment, with turquoise, blue or light grey materials used as highlights on the fascia ahead of the instrument cluster, on the front passenger airbag cover, and as fabric seat and door trim inserts, the remainder of the cabin trimmed in either dark grey or black.

Silver accents applied to the steering wheel, the gear lever, and the surrounds of the air vents, speedometer and centre console add a touch of sportiness.

Considerable attention was paid to ensuring the highest quality for these trim items which are moulded rather than painted – a common difficulty with silver-coloured plastics is the irregularity in the plastic flow during moulding. In order to overcome this issue, the amounts of metallic additives and the distribution of particle diameters were optimised and state-of-the-art plastic-flow analysis was used to perfect the mould shapes.

An added element of interior coordination is provided by an oval motif used for a variety of items, including the air vents, the liquid crystal display within the speedometer, the door armrests, the rearview mirror, and other features. Even the dimples on the fascia have an oval shape.

The instrument panel has a wraparound shape with a flowing, streamlined centre console that is angled towards the windscreen to create an open, airy feeling. It approximately matches the trajectory on which the driver moves his or her hands when using the flush-fitted controls located within it.

A fully integrated audio system is stylishly designed to match Splash’s youthful image. The CD tuner with MP3-compatibility and speed-sensitive volume adjustment can be operated either from the centre console-mounted controls or via the remote buttons provided on the left-hand steering wheel spoke.
The gear lever is mounted in a relatively high position on the centre console so that it falls easily to hand for effortless shifting.

Ahead of the leather-trimmed steering wheel, the instrument cluster is dominated by a distinctive, large speedometer whose black lettering on a white dial makes for good legibility. It also contains an LCD information display providing outside temperature, instantaneous and average fuel consumption and range, as well as a digital clock.

Complementing the prominent speedo is a funky tachometer which sits in its own housing on top of the fascia for an added sporty flavour.

Sitting pretty

The Splash’s relatively high 1590 mm roof line allows plenty of cabin height and relatively high seat positions, thereby realising a roomy, comfortable interior environment with good visibility for safer driving. Compared with the Swift, front seat headroom increases by 24 mm, that in the rear by 31 mm. Similarly front and rear seat hip points rise by 54 and 47 mm respectively, which makes for more comfortable entry and exit. The higher rear seats give passengers a better view and a more spacious feeling, as well as making it easier to attach a child seat.

A host of storage compartments throughout the cabin make Splash convenient and fun to use. Pockets in the front door trims can hold a 500 ml plastic bottle and road atlases, while the front cupholder on the floor console can accommodate a 750 ml bottle, the one at the rear a 1.5 litre bottle.

On the passenger side of the fascia is a large tray into which all manner of small personal items can be placed and beneath it a glovebox. At the top of the centre stack is a lidded compartment complete with coin holder and large enough to swallow CD cases.

All models feature a sunglasses holder in the roof lining, while just ahead of the gear lever is a console box suitable for items such as a mobile telephone. Finally, the front passenger seat features an under-seat tray and, on GLS+ models, a passenger seat back pocket.

The tallish body makes access to the luggage compartment particularly easy. Load space is 178 litres (VDA) which includes a useful 36 litre under-floor compartment suitable for storage of a first aid kit, small valuables and, with its waterproof lining, wet or soiled items; partitions keep things tidy.

Folding the one-touch rear seats forward – they are split 60: 40 – creates a virtually flat load floor. The headrests do not need to be removed, they are simply pushed down to their lowest level. The resulting load space is able to hold a total of 573 litres (VDA) which again includes the under-floor compartment.

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.’

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