What is it? New ‘rational’ supermini line to sit alongside the Suzuki Swift.
What’s new? Everything. It’s an all-new model, although engines and so on are shared with other Suzuki models.
Our view: For buyers seeking a practical runabout, the Suzuki Baleno has lots to offer – efficient engines, positive performance, value for money and loads of space.
Type of review: Taster test
The Suzuki Baleno is an all-new model line nothing like the last Suzuki to bear the name, which was last sold in 2002. According to its makers this is a car to appeal to supermini buyers that are too ‘rational’ to buy Suzuki’s most popular car, the Swift.
Chief among the newcomer’s attractions is its space, the car 150mm longer than the Swift – claimed as class-leading, the interior really can accommodate five adults while the boot is enormous for the segment, going from 320 litres to 1,085 litres with the seats folded down.
The Baleno is built on a new platform, the first under Suzuki’s ‘Next 100’ plan, and saves significant weight, some models tipping the scales at only 935kg.
Engine choices are two, both petrol. The 1.2-litre 89bhp unit is most efficient, at fuel economy of 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km, helped by Dualjet twin-injector technology debuted on the Swift in 2014, and for the first time a mild hybrid system that provides energy assistance under acceleration and gathers electricity through regenerative braking.
Most buyers are expected, however to choose the direct-injection 1.0-litre BoosterJet turbo petrol engine of 110bhp, first seen in the Vitara earlier this year. It’s claimed to offer the performance of a much larger 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated unit but with better fuel economy – 62.7mpg at best, with 105g/km emissions.
What do we think of it? Suzuki says the Baleno debuts a new design style dubbed ‘Liquid Flow’. It’s not distinctive, but it’s not unattractive either, looking at home alongside rivals such as the Hyundai i20 or Skoda Fabia.
Inside the layout is practical with everything in the right place. The surfacing is not exactly plush, plenty of plastic in evidence and looking like plastic, but it is fitted well. But the aspect that stands out is the space – rear seat passengers in particular will struggle to fins similar comfort in other models.
The Car Expert drove the car with the three-cylinder BoosterJet engine, which is expected to prove the most popular, and it is easy to see why. It is an eager unit, reaching 62mph in around 11 seconds while pulling strongly in the mid range.
There are better handling cars than the Baleno in this segment, such as the renowned Ford Fiesta, but there are also many that it competes very firmly with. The car corners confidently and rides with comfort.
Verdict: Suzuki believes the Baleno will appeal on its practical aspects and thus sit happily alongside the Swift, and we see no reason to doubt that view. For buyers seeking a practical runabout it has lots to offer – strong, efficient engines, a positive performance, strong value-for-money credentials – satellite navigation, air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on every version – but chiefly, space – lots and lots of space…
Suzuki Baleno – key specifications
Tested model: Suzuki Baleno 1.0 BoosterJet SZ5
Price: £13,999 (Range starts from £12,999)
On sale: June 2016
Engine: 1.0 petrol, 110bhp, 125lbft
0-62mph and max speed: 11.4sec, 124mph
Economy and emissions: 62.7mpg, 105g/km
Test date: May 2016
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.