Suzuki Baleno


  Suzuki is well known globally for its expertise in small cars and this is their latest example. Called the Baleno, at 3.99 metres long, it fits nicely into Suzuki’s range between the smaller Swift and the more off-road-orientated Vitara SUV and offers a more rational choice for buyers looking for extra interior space and a larger boot capacity. Suzuki say, the Baleno offers the best tandem distance in its class - that’s the measurement between the front and rear seats – and as result also has the best rear legroom when compared to its B-segment peers (think Skoda Fabia, Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and the like).

      On sale from June 1st the Baleno is the first Suzuki to utilise the ‘SUZUKI NEXT 100’ plan, which was announced at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. This new platform targets the reduction of weight, as well as increasing overall structural rigidity. For instance, in the Baleno, body rigidity has been enhanced by approximately 10 per cent and, together with the introduction of a new smoother shaped ‘Liquid Flow’ design theme, the overall vehicle weight has been reduced by around 15 per cent.  This not only makes the Baleno the most aerodynamic Suzuki to date but, when compared with, the similar-sized Hyundai I20, it weighs in a whole 200kg lighter.

   Not only is  the Baleno’s frame lighter but, thanks to the use of ultra-high tensile steel, should heaven forbid the worst happen, collision force energy is dispersed more efficiently and thus overall crash safety is improved. On a more cheery note perhaps, that featherweight frame also helps make the Baleno more fuel efficient.

     Suzuki’s weight reducing ethos is also in evidence under the Baleno’s bonnet. After the debut of Boosterjet in their Vitara S in January 2016, their clever engine technology continues here with an all-new 998 cc three cylinder unit ( a 1.2 twinjet and a SHVS Hybrid drive are also available).

     If anything, the Boosterjet engine is the Baleno’s stand-out feature. Despite displacing less than a litre this little motor produces an output of 111bhp. Thanks to it also being Direct Injection turbocharged (DITC) it also delivers 125lbft of torque from 2,000rpm through to 3,500rpm.

  It works by controlling the wastegate valve; it closes to create higher boost pressure during heavy load operation yet remains open during normal driving.  High levels of both power and fuel-efficiency are achieved due to the reduction of pumping losses whilst an air bypass valve is also utilised to prevent turbo ‘stall’ should the throttle be closed and then quickly reopened.

   I got to sample it on the rather picturesque roads that lie the south-west of Belfast. It’s a thrummy little unit that adds a fun character to the Baleno, and if anything makes it feel faster and more eager than its figures (0-62 in 11.4 seconds) suggest.  When coupled to Suzuki’s accurate 5 speed gearbox (an auto option is also available,) it feels and revvy and pulls the Baleno along with an eager nature. The ride is a tad bouncy at times and the Baleno does tend to succumb to body roll when cornering, especially so when pushed that bit harder. Nevertheless you’d never call it uncomfortable or un-composed. The driving position is good, the cabin is airy, and one suspects, Suzuki have got the ride and handling balance just about right for the Baleno’s targeted audience.

    The standard equipment list should also raise a few smiles – especially so when you consider that Baleno prices start at just £12,999. Sat-Nav, Bluetooth, 6 airbags, 16 inch alloys, HID headlamps, ISOFIX, DAB and air-con are fitted across the entire range with the range-topping (£13,999) SZ-5 also gaining extra niceties such as LED rear lamps, climate control and a 4.2 inch colour trip display, Radar Brake Support and Adaptive Cruise Control. Apple’s car play and mirror link systems also put in a welcome appearance. 

     If you consider the Baleno as Swift’s more practical, more grown-up, sensible cousin you won’t be too wide of the mark. It’s not as much fun to drive as its smaller stablemate and it’s perhaps not as good looking either. But, what the Baleno lacks in looks and dynamics it makes up for with space, standard kit, and practicality.

    And that Boosterjet engine… well, it’s a gem.


Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5


Engine: 998cc 3Cyl Petrol. K10C Direct injection Turbo

Power:  111 BHP @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 125 lbft @ 2,500 – 3,500 rpm

Transmission:  5 speed manual, front-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62 mph 11.4 sec

Max Speed: 124 mph

MPG: 62.7 Combined.

CO2: 105g/km

Price: £13,999.


Many Thanks to Jade and Alun at Suzuki UK’s press office for the loan of the Baleno


Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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