Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX M
The Suzuki Baleno is a completely new car on a completely new Suzuki platform in South Africa. Despite being larger than the Swift, the Baleno is 11% lighter, with a kerb mass of just 915 kg. As a result it has sprightly performance.
For now only the well known and reliable K14B 1,4-litre normally aspirated engine is offered in SA, but this may be a good thing as it delivers surprisingly nippy performance in this body and has less bits that can go wrong. The drag coefficient of just 0,299, makes it the most aerodynamic production model Suzuki available and helps the performance.
It is a good looking car with the typical modern Suzuki nose including HID projector elements and LED daytime running lights and low-mounted recessed fog lamps, but it is not as “sexy” as the Swift.
Baleno’s interior is 87 mm longer than that of the Swift giving it class-leading rear legroom and the rear bench seat is wide enough for three occupants. The well executed cabin has very good space for this size of car and very good noise suppression. A tall person can sit in the back quite comfortably.
It is typically Japanese in style and is pleasant and ergonomic. The dash houses a 6,2-inch TFT colour screen in the GLX models and a comprehensive small display in front of the driver with trip data.
It has a deep luggage compartment with a good at 355 normally and can be extended to 756 litres with the rear seated folded flat.
There are two trim levels, the entry-level GL and the well equipped GLX, which comes with a choice of five-speed manual manual with an excellent power-to-weight ratio of 76,5 kW/ton or four-speed automatic.
The Baleno rides on an independent front suspension consisting of MacPherson struts, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar in front, combined with a torsion beam, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar at the rear which allows it to soak up road irregularities and gives it good handling performance.
Suzuki claims average fuel consumption for the combined cycle comes to 5,1 Litres/100 km for the manual model, and 5,4 Litres/100 km for the automatic version. I actually got 5.4 Litres/100km on my usual test cycle.
I liked the car and would recommend it because of the big boot, good interior space and frugal but sprightly performance. Suzuki have a winner on their hands.
Priced from R199 900 to R244 900.
The new Swift, still to be launched has a 1,2-litre Dualjet engine and appears to be smaller and sportier than the Baleno.
The competition includes the smaller Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta as well as the Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Renault Clio.
The new Baleno is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km/12 month intervals.