ONCE upon a time a small car was essentially seen as a cheap and cheerful means of getting from A to B and not much else.
Frills were few and far between and they tended to follow a fairly basic design blueprint too, with the primary aim of offering value for money.
Somewhere along the way someone decided small cars should have added value - either in terms of practicality or, shock horror, style.
Cars like the MINI and the Fiat 500 have changed the way people think about small cars and though not all can achieve similar style icon ststus they can be funky, individual and out of the ordinary in their own way.
Not only that but they can be bigger too.
In truth, all small cars have been getting bigger, a classic example being the Volkswagen Polo, which these days is on a par size-wise with the original Golf.
When it comes to competing in this segment size can matter as much as style and the Suzuki Splash has plenty of ‘mine's bigger than yours' points on the scoreboard.
To make a point it is even classed as a mini MPV, though some might prefer to call it a supermini or perhaps a more accurate description might be a ‘spacious supermini'.
Basically it's a small car that makes good use of space to create an everyday runabout that can even double up as a family car at a push.
Suzuki's strength is in making small, stylish and capable cars that are generally good fun to drive. One of my most interesting recent automotive discoveries was that Suzukis seem to be the four-by-four of choice in Swiss ski resorts.
Though it wouldn't be described as a style trendsetter the Splash does have presence and more than a ‘splash' of small car chic but it is in terms of practicality that it really delivers.
It shares a platform with Suzuki stablemate the Swift but manages to create extra space by going up rather than outwards.
Every square inch of the compact platform is made the most of with minimal overhangs at all four wheels.
This gives the Splash a sure-footed and flat feel that helps it drive rather well. The added height makes for a little pitch and roll but only when you're cornering at speed.
There's a choice of two engines - 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol units - a 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced diesel that used to be an option is no longer available.
The 1.2-litre petrol is worth paying a little extra for. It's a decent all-rounder when it comes to performance and value for money. It's available as a manual or an automatic and the manual manages 55.4mpg overall. The latest versions offer enhanced performance and economy, as well as lower emissions.
On the inside the extra height that's delivered means a roomy and open feel and there are plenty of imaginative storage solutions for those bits and pieces that need a home.
Given the prioritising of space and comfort in the cabin, boot space isn't over generous (178 litres) but more than adequate for a family shop or even a clutch of reasonably sized bags and with the back seats down it offers 573 litres.
It ticks plenty of boxes as far as safety goes, with ESP as standard and it comes with a veritable raft of airbags - six in fact.