I recently spend some time with the newly refreshed compact budget hatchback, Suzuki Baleno. now a product of the Suzuki/Toyota Alliance which at Toyota is called “Starlet”. I took it around town for a week as a daily to see what it has to offer, and here are my thoughts.
- Model: Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX
- Engine: 1.4 Litre 4-cylinder N/A petrol
- Power & Torque: 68 kW & 130 Nm
- Transmission: 5-speed Manual
- Fuel consumption: 5.1Litre / 100 km (Claimed)
- Price: R259,900
The exterior receives a facelift, smoother curves lines. The front-end showcases a new three-dimensional grille with a chrome strip bar flowing around the middle and into the headlight, boosting the look of the car. Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are fitted as standard on the GLX model as well as 16-inch diamond cuts alloy wheels with black and silver contrasting.
Rounding out the back, a sporty-looking spoiler fitted with a chrome beltline trim on the tailgate to match the chrome bar at the front.
Interior and Practicality
Inside the Suzuki Baleno, everything feels in place and well built. You a car of its price and class you’d expect squeak and rattles but no here. It feels pretty solid. Mostly covered in hard plastics, the seats are comfortable and made of cloth upholstery with a blue and black theme. side airbags on both front seats and height-adjustable for the driver seat driver.
The Baleno GLX features push-start button, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free control, and a leather central armrest with a very small compartment (Can hardly fit a phone). Also equipped standard with a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system boasting AM and FM radio with Bluetooth, USB MP3 playback, Android Auto, and Apple car play compatible with integrated reverse camera.
Other interior features include electric window all round, automatic climate control, 12V power socket , 1x AUX port and 1x USB port.
The Baleno is fitted with comfortable seats made of cloth upholstery. height adjustable for the driver’s seat with side seats airbags for both front seats.
Sitting at the back appeared to not be as comfortable as the front, especially for taller passengers with over 1.85m of height a bit of struggle can be encountered when it comes to headroom, and with just enough legroom.
Fairly spacious with 339 Litres of claimed luggage capacity, the access to the boot space is a bit challenging because of the sink-in design, which requires you to lift your Loads high up to get in or out of the boot. This process can be a bit difficult for heavy objects. The boot space can be further extended by folding the rear seats to 40:60 splits, very useful for long item storage.
When it comes to safety the Baleno comes fitted with 6 airbags, 2 front airbags for both driver and passenger with side seat airbags, and side curtain airbags. Also equipped with remote central locking, rear parking sensor, ABS with brake assist, EBD, and ISOFIX child seat anchors also available on the back seats.
How does it drive?
Powered by the well know K14B, a fuel-efficient 1.4L petrol engine that develops 68kW and 130Nm of torque, paired to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. My test unit was fitted with the 5-speed manual transmission which I found to be smooth and very easy to use.
This engine and transmission combination somehow felt much smoother and easier to operate than the one found in the Vitara Brezza. The power figures may sound a bit shy but they do work just right for the Baleno, especially for its size and lightweight of just under a ton (915kg).
The gear ratio between gears are well spaced, You may experience a bit of struggle when tackling steep inclines from time to time, but a couple of downshifts will get you going without an issue.
After driving both in city traffic and on highway roads, I managed an average fuel consumption of 5.6L/100km which is very impressive, considering that Suzuki claim’s the Fuel consumption at 5.1L/100km for the manual and 5.4L for the automatic transmission. This means that the Baleno is very light on fuel.
Pricing and after-sales
The new Suzuki Baleno range is priced as follow
Baleno 1.4 GL MT R221 900
Baleno 1.4 GLX MT R259 900 (Test Unit)
Baleno 1.4 GLX AT R274 900
All prices include a 5-year/200 000 km promotional warranty and a 4-year/ 60 000km service plan.
Being a budget car you wouldn’t expect much from it. however the Baleno some how offers a very pleasant driving experience, given its price and amount of features available as standard. It’s definitely a competitive product in its segment and deserves to be shortlisted in potential purchases list.
To know more, book a test drive here