Last year I reviewed the Baleno for the first time, and found it to be a very agreeable and charismatic Hatchback. In retrospect, I felt this smooth little operator needed to be brought up again; as showcased by the superb Suzuki Centurion dealership, the Baleno has left a marked impression on me that warranted this rerun.
What I loved about the Baleno, right at the outset, is the fact that it doesn’t look like any other hatchback – where many other vehicles in this segment look either sporty/racy, or blocky and small, the Baleno supersedes this and smashes your expectations out of the park with a really suave, sophisticated look. It presents a character that is closer to a luxury sedan, and is not overly bubblegummy (think of flash trends and pop culture) but rather a no-compromise approach to elegance and comfort.
The Baleno’s interior is roomy despite being a hatchback – the design platform is built on the idea that the wheels are placed right at the corner of the body, and as such, creates a spacious interior and a sufficiently large boot (355 litres). With ample room in the front and rear, and neat, high-quality cloth-interior, the cabin is a space of harmony and energy, thanks to the technology-infused dashboard and infotainment system (with a 6.2 inch touchscreen to work off) that enables DVD playback and full Bluetooth integration. Nifty little touches, such as LER Rear Combination tail-lights, automatic folding side-mirrors and Anti-pinch drivers’ side electric window, are testament to the smart design aimed at prioritising driver comfort.
Comfort is not the only important aspect of this design; the Suzuki team place a great deal of importance on safety, and with 6 airbags as standard and all the expected Electronic Safety assists, there is a definite trend of marrying advanced driving technology with a powerful design to produce a harmonious, energetic driving experience.
Another feature I found quite interesting (albeit many drivers may not find it so intriguing or useful) is the relay of real-time information to power and torque as you drive. An efficient and powerful drive train is at the heart of the Baleno; with a 1.4 litre engine that is released in either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto variants, the Baleno ensures low fuel consumption rates as well.
Driving the Baleno is almost effortless; there is not a particularly massive amount of power, but I didn’t expect that from a vehicle that isn’t designed to be, or marketed as, a Hot Hatch. Instead, the seamless transmission provides for a velvety smooth ride, with superb cornering and handling (thanks to it’s solid stance and widely stanced wheels), proving to be an ideal city car for negotiating traffic, stop-go conditions and still maximising fuel efficiency.
This great-looking vehicle, on show at Suzuki Centurion, is the perfect vehicle for the growing family, the mature couple or even young executive: with it’s elegance and refinement, it can most certainly do the job of a sedan too.
For a link to the ever-helpful and knowledgeable dealership, Suzuki Centurion
By Desh Bechan