Suzuki Baleno Review
Suzuki add to their growing lineup with the new Baleno.
- Plenty of standard equipment
- Well priced
- Really good rear room
- Interior lacks some style
Suzuki are a manufacturer on the move; sales are up, brand awareness has increased thanks to adverts featuring popular presenting duo, Ant and Dec and over the next 18 months they will be launching four models.
First up is the all-new Baleno, does the hatchback have the edge over its rivals?
On the Road
There are two new engines for the Baleno, a three cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine and Suzuki’s first mild hybrid.
The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 111PS and has a 0-62mph time of only 11.4 seconds, it’s ideal for the Baleno as it has enough torque at 170Nm to zip it along, it’s very nippy be it around the city streets or for longer motorway journeys.
Surprisingly Suzuki have gone down the hybrid route and their offering for the Baleno is their SHVS system which uses a four cylinder 1.2-litre Dualjet engine and an integrated starter generator. Although its major plus points are that it can achieve a combined 70.6mpg and it’s road tax exempt, it just doesn’t sound like the usual quiet hybrid and we had to check the badge on the back to confirm it was the hybrid system.
With the Suzuki Baleno on a newly developed platform it weighs just 950 kilograms, so is the lightest in the class making it agile and stable thanks to a suspension that provides plenty of ride comfort.
The light steering can be a bit sensitive but it feels fairly confident tackling the twisty stuff and although it’s not as nimble as the Suzuki Swift, it surprisingly drives well and really is an ideal about town hatchback.
There is some road noise at higher speeds and the initial pulling away filters quite a bit of engine noise into the cabin.
It may not be as refined as some of its rivals, the seats can feel a bit too rigid and hard after a long drive, but the Baleno does score well in other areas.
In the car
Now the Suzuki Baleno cabin doesn’t rate too highly in the style stakes, it’s been kept quite simple, looks slightly dated and although the seven-inch touch screen looks smart, the interior isn’t snazzy enough to take on the competition.
The driver’s seat lacks some comfort, but visibility is good and the 4.2-inch high-definition LCD display offers the driver plenty of car information including fuel consumption, acceleration and brake operation and even G-force tracking. Not too sure how many Baleno drivers would pay any attention to latter though...
The positives though in the Baleno are the smartphone connectivity, Apple CarPlay comes as standard as does DAB radio, bluetooth and navigation, you certainly get a lot of connectivity and entertainment for the price.
The Suzuki Baleno excels when it comes to its space, driver and passenger have plenty of room and surprisingly rear passengers will have a lot of legroom. Tall people will have no problems at all and it’s this that makes the car so appealing.
The boot size is one of the best in its class at 320 litres, (the Ford Fiesta is only 290 litres) and with rear seats folded extends to 756 litres, it also has a shelf below the boot floor for extra storage - Suzuki have capitalised on the space the Baleno has to offer.
The Suzuki Baleno is priced from £12,999 for the SZ-T specification with £1,000 extra for the top level SZ5 version. With just two trims available even the entry level SZ-T packs a lot of standard equipment including rear privacy glass, navigation, bluetooth, Apple Carplay, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, a tyre pressure monitor and a Guide me home light system - when going to the Baleno in the dark or leaving it at night, the headlights can stay on for a set time after it has been locked.
The equivalent Hyundai i20 and Ford Fiesta models would cost over another £2,000 more so it’s really good value with all the equipment it has.
The Baleno is covered by a three-year/60,000 mile warranty and Suzuki will also throw in a year of AA Suzuki Assistance too.
The 1.0-litre Boosterjet with the manual transmission will emit just 105g/km of CO2, it will fall into VED band B so will cost just £20 annually and with a combined 62.7mpg then running costs will be very low and their SHVS hybrid system is road tax exe
Quality seems really high with the Suzuki Baleno, interior plastics seem like they’ll be hard wearing and reliabilty is an area where they do well with a renowned reputation for rating higher than more popular competitors.
In 2015 they took the second spot in the What Car? reliability survey just behind Honda and ahead of Toyota and the Suzuki Swift also took the title of the What Car? Car of the Year in 2016, so although they’re not as big as the main manufacturers, don’t be fooled by how good a brand they are.
The Suzuki Baleno scored three stars in the Euro NCAP tests but it does have plenty of safety equipment including six airbags as standard, brake assist, ABS, ISOFIX points for child seats, a tyre pressure monitoring system and the top level SZ5 comes with adaptive cruise control and Radar Brake Support which will warn you if you’re about to have a collision and can apply the brakes if indeed it looks likely to happen.
Security comes in the form of an immobiliser, deadlocks and remote central locking in what is a very equipment loaded model.