Suzuki has a principled outline when it comes to making dependable and within your means affordable cars. Additionally, Suzuki claims to have tweaked much more with the manufacturing of the Baleno of which I recently got to spend an entire week with. But you won’t be able to appreciate any of this until you actually drive the Baleno. What you will admire however, are the subtle styling appearance.
The cabin is effectively neat and tasteful leaving very little to improve upon. You get the automatic climate control, 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation and all the other standard infotainment features. The front seats are large and comfortable, It is the same story in the back, where the ample legroom and wide seating give enough room for three adults. All in all then, Suzuki has found a good middle-ground between performance and practicality.
Whilst the Suzuki Baleno was said to offer big-car comfort with impressive engine power at a small hatchback price, I needed to see for myself so I especially put the newcomer to the test for this reason. Powered by a 1.4-litre engine which is effectively suited to the car, it offers 68 kW and 130 Nm of torque. Now I know that those figures are not highly impressive on paper but trust me the Baleno’s light weight works hand in hand with its engine power giving you much more response than you would expect. The Baleno is impressively quick between stop streets and robots and I found very little difficulty, if none what so ever driving in busy City Johannesburg conditions.
The revised suspension has given the car much more stability and handling on the whole has improved significantly. What adds to this comfort is the steering wheel which feels firm and solid which always gives me more confidence to drive enthusiastically and without nervous concern for quick handling. And OMG, a huge plus, the brakes on this car are great, no doubt this was due to the addition of four way disc brakes. All in all, if you are looking for a family car with a shot of fun and chic with some pizazz, the Baleno won’t disappoint. The Baleno is quite well-priced when you consider similarly positioned cars in its segment.
Verdict: Yes, it’s quick, but this is clearly not a sportscar. It is a great top-of-the-line option for the Baleno range which is still practical and more fun to drive. Just don’t expect it to deliver true-blue hot hatch adventures, however you can expect an amazingly relaxed and feeling of safety and stability in your journeys.
By Desh Pillay Bechan