Even though 'supermini MPV' is a contradiction in terms, it's a sector that's carved out a nice little niche for a few manufacturers. It's easy to see why, because it offers maximum space in a minimal footprint. But you can't create something from nothing, and the Splash is an MPV of compromise.
What are its rivals?
The Splash is the result of a joint project with Vauxhall that also spawned the Agila, making that its chief (and slightly more expensive) rival. The pantheon of tall hatchbacks also includes the Renault Modus, the Honda Jazz and the Nissan Note, although again, they're a little pricier. The Suzuki, then, is the best value mini MPV on the market - if you define 'best value' as 'cheapest'.
The version we're testing is the top-spec SZ4 version with a 1.2-litre petrol engine developing 93bhp, priced at £10,535.
How does it drive?
Funnily enough, the Splash drives like a Suzuki Swift that's slightly more prone to leaning during cornering, which is natural, really. Given the sum of its dynamic parts - tall body, thin track, tiny wheels, low power - it's much more fun than it should be.
It obviously doesn't have sports suspension or anything like that, but there's a natural feel to the whole setup. The steering is light around town, but it feels a lot more connected to the front axle than you might expect. That's likely to do with the suspension being set on the firm side to counteract body roll, though it's never so firm as to make the ride uncomfortable.
The Splash does feel generally more at home and more settled at lower speeds. Its good visibility, high driving position and sense of shortness make it very easy to tootle about the doors in, while on the motorway those things actually make the driver feel a little exposed.
The lack of pace really could be an issue for the keener driver. The engine can only muster 87lb.ft of torque at its best, and that's all the way up at 4,800rpm, so you can imagine that this car needs its throttle worked hard a lot of the time. Drive gently, however, and with a virtually empty car, and it's just about enough.
The cabin is huge, and easily big enough to house four adults without the pair in the back having their knees hoisted up to their ears. It also, as per the Swift, has an easy to negotiate cabin - short on design flair and soft touch plastic, but logical and full of cubbyholes to lose stuff in.
Fuel economy is a big plus, too. Suzuki doesn't offer a diesel Splash any more, but you can see why, because this petrol version returns 55.4mpg and only emits 119g/km of CO2, so it costs £30 per year in VED. We found during our time with the car that it came close to the claimed figure - not often the case with a diesel.
The boot. We mentioned compromise in the introduction and this is the main one - you can't have everything, which means in a car this small that you can't have a proper boot. If the Splash had a more accommodating load space it would be a genuine family car, but as it is the boot is only good for a couple of plant pots - forget buggies and that sort of stuff.
Special mention has to go to the 'keyless' ignition system in the SZ4 version, too. Nice idea when you've got a lovely start button to press, but in this case Suzuki has simply jammed a lump of plastic into the ignition barrel, so you still must make a 'turning key' action but put the actual key in the door pocket or somewhere, to rattle around.
Should I buy one?
Value is the Splash's forte - it's possible to buy a 1.0-litre or 1.2 SZ3 version, minus alloy wheels, for under ten grand. That significantly undercuts the Vauxhall Agila and Renault Modus. For that reason, the Splash is worth a look, because really it's no better or worse than the aforementioned in terms of having a big cabin, a disappointing boot and being ok to drive.
However, we'd strongly recommend you look at the Honda Jazz before investing, because the Japanese car is higher quality, better to look at, more practical and more involving to drive. It's just that Honda calls it a hatchback, not a mini MPV.