By Amanda Mfuphi
Late last year Suzuki graciously gave us a long-term Baleno GLX Auto for a 6-month period to enable our publication to spend extended intimate time with it. Having seen other crew members being lyrical about the Baleno, I was fortunate to spend time with it for most of during December 2019 and January 2020, and thus get to explore the vehicle both as a daily drive to work as well as a travel companion during my festive season break. Spoiler alert, I enjoyed spending time and driving the Suzuki Baleno and found it a great value proposition with the vehicle ticking the looks, comfort, technology, safety and fuel efficiency boxes.
The Suzuki Baleno plays in the hotly contested B-segment and was refreshed in late 2019 and that update introduced a new range of colours, upgraded trim and upholstery. A new colour, Magma Grey metallic was added to the five-exterior paint colours. The grille of the updated Baleno was also revised. It is now wider than the previous grille and has a 3D chrome strip which runs through headlights. This adds to the character of the car as it makes it look more aggressive on approach. The higher-end GLX derivative comes with LED headlights.
The lower bumper of the Baleno was also revised and now has a hexagonal centre air intake and fog lamps (for the GLX model). The Baleno GLX comes with diamond-cut alloy wheels and features chrome door handles to distinguish it from the lower models. Completing the exterior look of the Baleno GLX is the rear spoiler.
Inside, the Baleno has a new two-tone colour upholstery treatment on the seats. This comes in a form of a black outer treatment and deep-blue treatment in the centre section of the seats. The interior also has hard black and aluminium plastic material on the dashboard. The updated Baleno has also been given a new infotainment system that integrates the reverse camera and offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on a 7-inch touchscreen.
The Baleno comes standard with features such as air conditioning, power steering, electric windows (front and rear), a radio with Bluetooth, 12V socket (front and rear), USB socket and CD player and steering-mounted audio controls. The Baleno GLX model we have on test has additional features such as cruise control, fully automatic climate control, keyless entry with a push button start, leather trim on the steering wheel, a front armrest, front and rear park distance control with camera to assist with piloting the Baleno.
During our stay with the Baleno in December, space became particularly critical. The 335 litre boot with a deep design was up to task swallowing up mine and my family’s luggage without any fuss. The Baleno’s decently sized cabin with remarkable rear leg and headroom was ideal for ferrying adult relatives with comfort and ease during the December break.
In terms of safety, our Baleno GLX comes with 6 airbags (the GL model has 2 airbags), ABS with EBD and brake assist.
Engine and drive
The Baleno GLX AT is powered by a 1.4-litre petrol naturally aspirated engine that produces 68kW of power and 130Nm of torque. The engine is paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission gearbox. Despite the low power and torque numbers of the Baleno, the Baleno was more than capable of dishing out adequate performance on the road for the duration of the test. The Baleno is not the quickest car off-the-mark, however, but it does do the job fairly well.
During its stay with me in late December and early January, the Baleno took various road trips to places like Durban, Vryheid and even Mjejane in Mpumalanga. In all the road trips we took during the December holiday break, I found the Baleno to be a great travel companion for a B-segment hatchback. I was particularly impressed with the Baleno’s ability to soak up the gravel road on our trip to Mjejane in Mpumalanga for New Years Eve, where it retained a reasonably comfortable drive. The Baleno was also equally capable during city driving and was very easy to navigate in sticky traffic situations because of its size. The efficiency levels of the Baleno also add to the appeal of the vehicle as it is a petrol friendly car during these tough economic toughs. I saw an average fuel consumption of approximately 5.6L/100km, which is nearly on par with the claimed 5.4L/100km.
Overall, the Baleno impressed me with its looks, technology, interior and fuel efficiency. The pricing point of the Baleno in relation to what it offers is also an attractive feature of the vehicle.
The pricing for the Suzuki Baleno in South Africa is as follows:
Baleno 1.4 GL M/T – R209,900
Baleno 1.4 GLX MT – R239,900
Baleno 1.4 GLX MT SLDA – R244,900
Baleno 1.4 GLX AT – R254,90
Baleno 1.4 GLX AT SLDA – R259,900
The Baleno is sold with a 5-year/200,000 km promotional warranty and a 4-year/60,000 km service plan.
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