SUZUKI'S new Baleno hatchback might be a latecomer to the small car class, but that apparent tardiness has helped the company define the needs of one of the country's most competitive classes.
The car maker has been known for decades as a small vehicle specialist – it has redefined small commercials and SUVs, and its Swift is a legend in the light car class – and the handsome Baleno carries on that tradition. But with a twist. Rather than simply falling-in with the rest of its class rivals, Baleno goes out of its way to be different with a two-model range offering a bucket-load of standard equipment and a two engine choice with one of those choices startlingly different.
The standard kit for the GL and GLX includes Apple CarPlay, satellite navigation, a reversing camera and daytime running lights with the GLX adding 16-inch diameter alloy wheels, high-intensity discharge headlights and climate-control air-conditioning. GLX also gets Suzuki’s new ‘Boosterjet’ engine, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder, turbocharged device developing 82 kilowatts of power at 5500rpm and 160 Newton metres of torque from a lazy 1500rpm all the way through to 4000rpm.
For its part, the GL gets a naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine that makes 68-kilowatts at 6000rpm and 130 Newton metres at 4000rpm. Transmission choices for the GL are a standard five-speed manual and optional four-speed automatic.
The GLX is available only with a six-speed automatic. Both GL and GX are front-wheel-drive vehicles. Suzuki has pulled out all the stops for its newest small car. A full five-door, it boasts more passenger space and front and rear legroom than the smaller Swift and its boot holds an impressive 355 litres with the rear seat in place, making it class competitive.
Fuel economy is also impressive, the GL manual returning a 5.1 litres/100km on the official test procedure and the GLX, with the turbocharged engine, coming in with 5.2 litres/100km. No wonder, then, that Suzuki needs to fit a modest 37-litre fuel tank. Regarding overall size, new Baleno is a delicate 3995mm long, 1745mm wide and sits comfortably on a 2520mm wheelbase. Its generous 1470mm overall height also means getting in an out doesn't require gymnastic competency.
Suzuki’s core development values for Baleno included making sure it had spaciousness to go with its stylishness with a focus on usable cabin and cargo space.
To that end the car, when compared to the company’s popular Swift, has 87mm of additional length from the accelerator pedal to the rear seat hip point and 124mm more length from the rear hip point to the back of the vehicle, highlighting the increased boot space.
The front of the car – from the windscreen base to the front bumper - was made as short as possible to make parking less of a chore and the car has plenty of manoeuvrability courtesy of its 9.8-metre turning circle, which lets it thumb its nose at bigger, more unwieldy cars. Baleno pricing starts at $15,990 for the GL with manual transmission with the optional automatic transmission adding $1000. The automatic-only GLX Turbo starts at $21,990. Pricing does not include on-road costs.
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