Let’s face it, the Suzuki Baleno is not as popular as the other kids in the segment but since this is not a popularity contest, the questions to ask are: 1. can the Baleno can hold its own against the market leaders and 2. is it worth of your hard earned cash. I want you to read this piece but I know you’d also like a quick answer. The answer is that the Baleno is a samurai warrior worthy of your attention. It’s spacious, it has decent boot and its good looking.
The Baleno was launched in South Africa in 2016. I remember my initial apprehension that the Baleno may bite into the Suzuki Swift sales instead of taking the fight to the opposition. The Baleno has proved me wrong. It hasn’t threatened the Swift but has put Suzuki firmly on the map as a serious B-segment fighter.
The Baleno comes in two trims. The entry level GL and the top of the range GLX. Whilst the GL is only available in manual, the GLX can be yours in manual or automatic. Both the GL and GLX employ a compliant 1.4 naturally aspirated engine which is good for 68 kW of power and 130 Nm of torque. The engine has more than sufficient power. Best of all is its fuel consumption. Suzuki claims 5.1l/100km under normal driving conditions. My “worst” was a decent 6.0l/100 km in Cape Town peak hour traffic.
From outside the Suzuki Baleno appears larger than the competition. You’d be tempted to think that it’s here to fight the likes of Hyundai I30. The design is uncomplicated yet stylish. The Baleno has its fair share of bling in the GLX model which blends in well with the overall styling. The GLX will also treat you to a roof-end spoiler and a tailgate garnish with chrome finishes both of which add to the Baleno’s charm. Apart from the styling ‘extras’, you’ll find standard features such as cruise control, park distance control, keyless push start system, automatic air-conditioner and daytime running lights in the GLX model.
The focus in the Baleno isn’t only on exterior styling. Inside you’ll enjoy a roomy cabin. Your back passengers have also been kept in mind as there is ample space and legroom for them which is not always the case in this segment. The large 339 litre boot will also exceed your expectations and you’ll look forward to the next family trip.
On the technology front, the GLX packs quite a lot of tech. A 4.2-inch blue tooth ready LCD touch screen dominates the dashboard. There’s also a USB and AUX port.
The Baleno is priced from R199,000 for the GL manual and goes all the up to R244,900 for the automatic GLX. The prices are inclusive of a three-year/100 000km warranty, and a four-year/60 000km service plan.
Likes: the Baleno’s size makes it stand out. Dislike: some hard plastics undermine its overall built quality. Party trick: the Smart Key System. Why do my car keys ever need to leave my pocket?
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