Suzuki shows small is good

The new five-door Splash appeals to both younger and older drivers. Photo / Supplied
The new five-door Splash appeals to both younger and older drivers. Photo / Supplied

The latest small car from Suzuki is making a splash in the New Zealand marketplace only weeks after its introduction.

Customer and dealer response to the 1.2-litre five-door Suzuki Splash GLX hatchback has been so positive that initial supplies are struggling to meet demand, says Suzuki.

"Splash is getting interest from a wider customer demographic than we anticipated, perhaps due to its versatility and interior space," said Tom Peck, general manager of marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

Gary Collins, automobile sales manager for Suzuki, said the franchise was excited about initial sales. "Customers are appreciating the tall seating position and roomy interior of Splash," he said.

"The ability to adjust the seat height on both the driver's and front passenger's side is seen as a real plus. The versatile luggage space of the car is also winning the hearts of many customers."

Half of all sub 1.4-litre cars sold in New Zealand are bought and driven by people aged over 60, with the next largest group being 50 to 59-year-olds. They comprise just over 20 per cent of small car owners.

Unlike most other countries, younger buyers in New Zealand do not usually favour smaller cars, with only 5 per cent of buyers being aged under 30, and 7.8 per cent being aged between 30 and 39 years.

"We had expected that the Splash would appeal predominantly to our older customer base but we are pleased to see a number of young customers opting for the model," said Collins.

"The model is larger than its key competitors and offers a driving experience similar to our top-selling Swift. These factors set Splash apart from other sub-$20,000 vehicles on the market today."

Suzuki predicts the Splash will further increase the brand's presence in the light car segment which has shown the best growth in the New Zealand new car market this year.

Although it was developed from scratch for European customers, it carries the mini-MPV genes of Suzuki's hugely successful Japanese model, the Wagon R. Splash starts from $17,990.

Meantime, the Suzuki Jimny, the country's smallest and most fuel-efficient 4WD vehicle, is back in full supply.

Availability of the 1060kg three-door hardtop had been hampered following the earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan in March.

But with a return to normal production, local availability of the 1.3-litre Jimny has been restored.

Latest versions are now standardised with an upgraded and more versatile Sony MP3-compatible audio system. This change means the Jimny also gains a storage pocket and clock under the audio in the centre of the dashboard.

The Jimny is one of the longest running models on the New Zealand market. The third-generation model, like its predecessors, has a ladder-type chassis and dual ratio transfer box for off-road ability, activated at the touch of a button for high or low ratios.

Freewheeling front hubs are engaged automatically and all-wheel drive can be selected on the move at speeds up to 100km/h.

The variable valve, fuel-injected four-cylinder engine develops 63kW of power and delivers a claimed town and around fuel useage of 7.2 litres/100 km (39.2mpg).

The Jimny is priced between $19,990 and $24,500.

- NZ Herald

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