CHIEF among a series of updates to the 2011 Suzuki range, tried on the road recently, is a cleaner, cheaper-to-run petrol engine for the plucky little Splash mini-MPV.
There is also a latest Euro 5 technology, 135 PS 2.0-litre diesel engine, sourced from Fiat, for the crossover SX4 and the latest version of the venerable 4WD Vitara.
Also, bravely stepping up a size for Suzuki, an early taste of a surprisingly sporty, 2.4-litre 4WD saloon called the Kizashi. Scaled between a Focus and Mondeo and already having notched up 10,000 sales elsewhere in the world, it will now definitely come to the UK, say Suzuki GB, in time to tackle next winter’s roads. While impressively high-spec, it is tipped to carry a £24,000 price tag.
In the Splash, a new 1.2-litre dual VVT petrol engine felt lively while claiming eight per cent more mpg and seven per cent lower emissions at 119 g/km, to qualify for a pocket-appealing annual road tax of only £30.
We recorded just under 46 mpg in brief drives in varying traffic conditions in Welsh border country, against an official combined figure of over 55 mpg. It remains comfortable for four average-sized adults, rather than the claimed five.
The cut-off rear means a small boot, but it extends via the drop-down rear seats and there’s useful waterproofed storage compartment under the floor.
The Splash, like its Vauxhall Agila sister model and Suzuki’s sporty Swift best-seller, is made in Hungary, also home of the SX4.
Updated in 2010, the SX4 in top SZ5 trim now offers capable, selected or intelligent 4WD mated through a six-speed manual gearbox to a new and zesty 2.0-litre DDiS diesel giving 135 PS, with 320 Nm of torque at just 1,500 rpm. In our hands it returned 36.7 mpg on the road against an official combined rating of 53.3 mpg, with 139 g/km of CO2.
At £12,425 with air con in SZ4 trim, the chunky little Suzuki Jimny, over a short but demanding off-road course, proved itself again worthy of consideration for those new to 4WD and worried about next winter.
Suzuki are aiming this 12 months to match last year’s UK sales of 24,000 and to benefit in hybrid technology from their link to VW, who own 20 per cent of the Japanese company.