The new Suzuki Baleno hatchback wants to steal some market share away from the Volkswagen Polo and Kia Rio. Lerato Matebese took it for a quick drive to see how it measures up.
What is this car all about?
The Baleno is essentially Suzuki’s answer to the B-segment hatch establishment that is mainly dominated by the VW Polo and other more established marques in the segment. It slots above the Swift hatch in the company’s product portfolio, yet weighs 110kg less than its smaller sibling.
What’s under the hood?
The Baleno is powered by a normally aspirated 1.4 litre petrol engine similar to the one used in its Swift sibling, except here it pushes out 68kW and 130Nm. It might not set your hair on fire when it comes to performance but it manages to get the job done. It is reasonably thrifty too.
Does it stand out from the crowd?
It has very Eurocentric design elements, which although has cues from other models in the market, does well to meld them into a very good looking supermini for the trendy set. Those anthracite 16-inch alloy wheels on the top specification GLX models look cool if somewhat bland.
What’s noteworthy on the inside?
Much like the Swift hatch, the cabin is well put together with good tactile feeling materials for a vehicle in this segment. The aftermarket infotainment screen looks good and heightens the cabin’s ambience but the small buttons mean that it is difficult to operate while on the move. The rest of the cabin is relatively roomy – particularly in the rear quarters and the boot, which measures 355 litre.
Is it good to drive?
As mentioned prior, while the engine might not be the crown jewel of the package, the ride quality is quite exemplary, while the transmission is positive enough for daily driving. Ultimate power may not be its forte, which is a great pity as there is a 1.0-litre turbo unit available in other countries such as the UK.
Who’s going to lose sleep about this car?
It might not have the cachet enjoyed by many rivals in this segment, but the dependability, good quality appointments and a keen price makes the Baleno a worthy alternative. It also comes standard with a four-year/60 000km service plan, which is relatively good for a vehicle in this segment.
Fast Facts: Suzuki Baleno 1.4
Engine: 1 373cc
Power: 68kWatt 6000rpm
Torque: 130Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual (Optional four-speed automatic)
Top speed: 180km/h (claimed)
Price: From R199 900 to R244 900