Suzuki makes great small cars with Swift being a favourite here at MotorHub. But the big boys better watch out as Suzuki’s new five-door Baleno hatch is nipping on the heels of the next class size up, so entry level Golf and Focus better watch out. Technically Baleno is a supermini and in the same class as the Swift but it offers so much space you would think it was a C segment car. Prices start from €17,995 for the entry SZ-T model.
The Indian built Baleno is almost 4 metres long and this can be felt in the spacious cabin. There is plenty of leg and shoulder room up front and the rear seats can fit three. The boot is good too with 320-litres of space available above and below the floor shelf. Fold the seats down and there’s 756-litres or 1,085-litres if you load to the roof. The quality of materials featured in the cabin is truly excellent for the price point.
Baleno is built on a new platform that is very light (sub 200kgs) but strong also. On the open road you can feel the benefit of the car’s stiffness when cornering. In fact the ride is set to a firm and sporty setting. Baleno might have torsion beam rear suspension but it is a car that likes the twisty route home. The suspension was tuned in Japan and later in Europe for our more discerning taste. All versions bar the entry model get disc brakes all round.
Under the bonnet of the front-wheel drive machine there is a new and dare I say brilliant 1 litre ‘Boosterjet’ petrol engine. The direct injection three-cylinder turbocharged unit pushes out 111hp & 170nm and has plenty of torque for a pint sized engine. The turbo used in the Boosterjet is directly attached to the head. The unit is small but it develops high torque plus there is clever use of the waste gate valve to help deliver a lively performer. 0-100kph takes 11.4 seconds but actually feels quicker. Top speed is 200kph. Fuel economy is impressive with an average consumption of 64.2 mpg. Baleno gets a good bit of kit as standard like air con, Bluetooth, sat navigation etc.
A SHVS (smart hybrid vehicle by Suzuki) version with a four-cylinder, 90hp, 1.2 litre petrol engine coupled to an electric motor is available from €18,995, but it falls short of the appeal of the 1 litre and it’s only a mild hybrid too. We drove it after the 1 litre and were less impressed. Compared to the 1-litre it felt quite lethargic and is not expected to sell in any great numbers here.
The specification most buyers will go for is SZ5 that has lots of toys and equipment. SZ5 prices range from €19,495 and rise to €22,495 for the automatic 1-litre. Suzuki Ireland hopes to sell 400 units in a full year here and 26,000 examples per year in Europe. Suzuki has global plans for Baleno and will ultimately export it to 100 countries.
Suzuki Baleno blends in with the best in class and is simply great value for money.