Road test: Suzuki Baleno

Posted on August 18th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

The Baleno is fun to drive, nicely styled and economical to buy and run.

Road test: Suzuki Baleno

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What is it?

This supermini sits between the Swift and Vitara in size. It’s well equipped, reasonably priced, neatly styled and comes with the option of a feisty little three-cylinder engine.

How safe is it?

The Baleno features a range of passive and active safety equipment with six airbags as standard across the range. The range-topping SZ5 also features Radar Brake Support.

Who should buy one?
There’s no doubting this is a practical and spacious five-door hatchback so it should meet any family’s needs. In addition, it offers excellent economy and great value.

Road test by Maxine Ashford 18 August 2016

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Suzuki Baleno

The Suzuki Baleno is priced from £12,999 and is available in two richly-equipped trims called SZ-T and SZ5. There is a 1.2-litre SHVS model – it stands for Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki – or a super new 1.0-litre three-cylinder.
The secret behind this particular engine’s success is a feature called Boosterjet, which first appeared on the Vitara S. Basically it’s a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine which has been designed to deliver excellent power output and impressive economy.
And during an 80-mile road route, it was this three-pot engine that put the smile on our faces. Despite its compact size, it produces 111PS and although the 0-62mph sprint time is not that jaw-dropping, it’s the manner in which the car performs that was so uplifting.
Okay, there is some whining and screaming from the engine when the car is pushed hard, but that almost adds to the appeal. It’s such a simple car to drive and the five-speed manual gearbox is beautifully smooth. The Baleno whizzes around bends with confidence and due to its lightweight construction (950kg), the little engine easily copes with fast country lanes and dual carriageways. And surprisingly, we didn’t find ourselves looking for a non-existent sixth gear at any time during the test drive.
You will feel the bumps when tackling particularly uneven roads, but the ride is generally very good, and the firm but supportive seats are guaranteed to leave you refreshed at the end of a long journey. In addition, the combined fuel efficiency of 62.7mpg will leave owners laughing all the way to the bank.
We also took a short run out in the 1.2-litre hybrid model which despite offering improved economy figures with combined fuel efficiency of 70.6mpg, seemed to lack the excitement produced by its smaller sibling. That’s probably why Suzuki anticipates the three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet will account for at least 85 per cent of sales.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Suzuki Baleno

The Baleno excels with its deceptively roomy cabin. There will never be any family tiffs over who gets relegated to the back because there is enough room for three adults to sit comfortably.
There is a generously sized boot with a 320-litre capacity which is easily increased to 765 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. In addition a double-level floor is standard and this helps to provide an almost flat load bay when the rear seats are lowered.
Other storage areas include a practically-sized glovebox, a central bin, door pockets and a convenient small tray just in front of a couple of cup holders.
Sadly there is a lot of quite ugly hard-wearing plastic on show, but then it’s worth remembering the Baleno’s asking price before getting too picky. Plus the Baleno is a family car and while the harder plastic may not be that easy on the eye, it is likely to stand the test of time.
SAFETY
Road test: Suzuki Baleno

Six airbags are fitted as standard and the range-topping SZ5 also gets Radar Brake Support and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Radar Brake Support system warns the driver if it detects a collision is probable and in some instances applies the brakes for you.
Under the new Euro NCAP dual-rating system the SZ-T model has been awarded three stars and the SZ5 four stars because it has the additional radar braking system fitted.

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Suzuki Baleno

The Baleno is well equipped. Standard features include satnav, DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, rear privacy glass, automatic headlamps and LED daytime running lights.
There’s also blue instrumentation on the 4.2-inch high-definition colour LCD display along with some great readout stats such as engine output and torque data, average speed and even G-force tracking. The SHVS model displays an energy flow diagram.

COSTS

Road test: Suzuki Baleno

With prices starting from £12,999 and rising to £15,349, the Suzuki Baleno enters a competitive segment with plenty to offer. It’s not the cheapest option but it does seem to be the complete all-round package.
Factor in good economy with combined fuel figures of 62.7mpg on the Boosterjet engine and 70.6mpg on the hybrid and the Baleno certainly ticks all the right boxes. Insurance ratings are also low.

WE SAY
The Baleno is fun to drive, nicely styled and economical to buy and run.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £13,999 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds
Economy: 62.7mpg combined
Insurance: Group 11
Tax: Band B (£0/£20)

Figures for the Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5