Why Small Means Soaring Sales Success – And Superb Satisfaction
The hugely underrated Suzuki Kizashi is a magnificent machine. It does, in essence, much of what you'd expect from an offering from one of the established luxury players – and as it sells in limited numbers it has an added air of exclusivity.
And the Grand Vitara? Suzuki Jhb South doyen and all-round industry expert Meyer Benjamin – a man with encyclopedia expertise when it comes to the auto game – hails it as nothing less than one of the best cars available. Indeed, while Meyer has a vast amount of metal at his disposal, his daily driver is a Vitara. And do you know what? The more time he spends behind the wheel of this machine, the more he adores it.
“It's no lie to say that I have a love affair with the Grand Vitara,” laughs the outgoing Meyer. “I'm not the only one. Owners of these vehicles are just crazy about them.”
But let me tell you something. What Suzuki does very best of all is make small cars.
The Swift – and its booted sibling the DZire. The perky, preppy Alto. The never-say-die Jimny – an unstoppable off-roader that has the same sort of iconic appeal as a Land Rover Defender. So the list goes.
And then there's the Splash. This baby is the eighth nameplate in Suzuki Auto SA's vehicle line-up. Now it almost seems redundant telling you this but it's an extroverted, entertaining little machine that once more underscores this venerable Japanese maker's brilliance when it comes to keeping things small.
It has broad appeal, too – its sheer versatility and practicality will speak to everyone from young families and singles to those whose kids have flown the nest.
Under the hood – or should I say bonnet? – lives Suzuki's well-proven, punchy 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine banging out a handy 63kW and 113Nm of torque. A five-speed manual is standard, and a four-speed self-shifter is an option. And while we're here there's much to be said for modern auto 'boxes. They're far removed from their antediluvian, clunky forebears and make eminent sense if you're spending a lot of time in traffic. Which – sadly – so many of us do. Especially as vehicle density soars ever upwards.
Two versions of the Splash are available. The entry-level GA – with “entry-level” being a bit of a misnomer as this machine is hardly cynically stripped-down prole-fare, packing as it does ABS and dual airbags, among other features. Move up the GL version and standard equipment levels correspondingly soar.
Much store is set by practicality in the maneuverable little Splash. So buyers get a vast range of storage options from a lidded binnacle on the top of the centre stack to an oddments tray behind the gear shift lever to a large storage tray ahead of the front passenger.
Front door binnacles with integrated bottle holders, front and rear cup holders, and seatback pockets are standard, too. And indeed, you can never have too many cup holders. On GL models, the passenger seat has an under-seat, slide-out tray .
The 60/40 split rear bench seat, meanwhile, makes for a versatile range of seating and cargo area combinations. Folding down both seat sections creates a flat-floored cargo area with a total volume of 1 050 litres to roof height. That's big. A low loading sill eases access when loading bulky or heavy objects.
Just as importantly, the Splash is an entertaining little sparkler to drive – as are all its brethren. It's also a part reminder of why Suzuki sales have soared of late. Last year was the best yet for Suzuki in SA and its year-on-year growth was the second highest in the industry.
And 2015? Watch this space, as they say.
“It's going to be a cracker of a year,” enthuses the ebullient Meyer. “And if you doubt that come visit us at Suzuki Jhb South. We'll get you behind the wheel of something that'll change your life – at an utterly superb price.”
by James Siddall