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Date: 23 Jul 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
The new Suzuki Baleno was launched locally about eighteen months ago with three variants and has done pretty well in the market place. The model featured in these road impressions is the Baleno GLX 1.4 litre Hatchback Manual.

When I saw the Baleno for the first time, it looked bigger than I had expected and was also better looking. For the styling, Suzuki used a so-called ‘Liquid Flow’ design theme for the new Baleno. From the front, the Baleno is dominated by the deep, wide grille and large Suzuki-logo, while the grille links to the bold, clear-lensed headlight clusters on either side. The integrated bumper also separates the grille from the large lower air intake, with recessed fog lamps located on either side, LED daytime running lights, blacked out A and B-pillars and rear privacy glass for the GLX models. The raked, curved windscreen and aerodynamically shaped exterior mirrors which incorporate the turn indicator repeaters, also add to the streamlined shape while the wheel-arches are filled with eight twin-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in 185/65R16 Bridgestone’s, and an emergency spare under the boot board. Also standard on the GLX is the chrome-finished door handles, the chrome beltline moldings and chrome tailgate garnish. The rear end features a broad integrated rear bumper, prominent tail light clusters, a rooftop spoiler and a wide-opening tailgate that offers easy access to the generous luggage compartment. The Suzuki Baleno achieves an aerodynamically efficient drag coefficient of just 0.299.

The interior is well presented and laid out – there is a lot of plastic but tastefully executed, while the seats are covered in what appears to be hard wearing cloth upholstery. The instrument panel directly ahead of the driving position houses the rev counter and speedo with a colour digital read-out in between that gives info on petrol usage, driving time and range distance, while a 6.2-inch colour display that controls the infotainment system is located in the center stack. The front bucket seats are well shaped and comfortable, and the rear bench seat is wide enough for three adults with reasonable shoulder and leg room. In terms of luggage capacity, the Baleno has a 355 litre boot, but if more space is required, the rear seat backrest splits 60:40 and can be folded down to extend capacity to 756 litres or loaded to roof height to 1 085 litres.

Storage for oddments is provided for in the cubby hole, front door pockets, binnacles in the center console and the bottom of the center stack, cup holders with bottle holders at the front and rear.

Standard features include a tilt-adjustable multifunction leather covered steering wheel with integrated controls for the audio system, electric windows all round, automatic air-conditioning, keyless entry and push button start, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth-based hands-free telephony system, a USB port, a 3,5 mm stereo auxiliary input, and a 12V power socket.

The interior lighting adds a front map reading light to the centrally mounted cabin light, while the center console is fitted with an armrest over the center storage box.

Safety equipment on the GLX is quite comprehensive and includes; six airbags, disc brakes both front and rear, with all the electronic driver aids such as ABS, EBD and EBA and adjustable head restraints for all five occupants. The Baleno earned a 4-star Euro N-Cap rating.

The new Suzuki Baleno is powered by their 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and multipoint fuel injection already proven in the Swift, Ertiga and Ciaz models. It develops 68 kW at 6 000 RPM, and 130 NM of torque at 4 200 r/min and drives the front wheel through a 5-speed manual gearbox.

In performance tests, the Baleno GLX did the 0 to 100 dash in 11.1 seconds after two gear-changes and has a top speed of around 175 km/h. Regards average petrol consumption, the trip recorder gave me a reading of 6.1 litres of petrol per 100km/s which is pretty good, and the tank holds 37 litres.

Driving the new Suzuki Baleno GLX 5-speed manual was quite a pleasure and all-round vision from the driver’s seat is good. The chassis and suspension are well tuned and provide a comfortable ride with only the poorly surfaced “B” roads spoiling the fun. The Baleno is responsive to driver inputs and its light steering, and “peppy” engine makes it easy to nip in and out of traffic without upsetting anyone. On the freeways, it has no problem keeping up, or even ahead of the traffic and at a steady 120 km/h in 5th gear, the motor spins at just 2 000 RPM. Wind and road noise is minimal but you get some engine noise in the cabin under acceleration. Up steeper hills, it is necessary to drop a gear or two to keep it on the boil, but the manual box works fine so it’s no effort. When the road starts to twist and turn the handling is reasonably good but it doesn’t enjoy being pushed too hard. In the stopping arena, standing on the brake pedal at 100 km/h, the all disc brake system brought the Baleno to a stop is 3.3 seconds which is quite reasonable. The light steering and small turning circle makes for easy parallel parking and for manoeuvring in tight places.

The recommended retail selling price for the new Suzuki Baleno GLX 5-speed manual transmission is R235 900, and the price includes a three-year / 100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year / 60 000 km service plan and services are at 15 000 km or 12-month intervals.
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