Style, on a Budget

Posted: November 3, 2019 in All, New Car Reviews, Suzuki
Tags: , , ,

Suzuki are well renowned for their quality small cars and SUVs for a very reasonable and affordable price and the latest Baleno range is no different. Starting at only $21,990 for the base GLX manual and $25,990 for the RS auto, as tested. This makes it a very affordable conveyance indeed, especially considering all the standard equipment it comes with. All models come with satellite navigation, handsfree Bluetooth with audio streaming, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing camera and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, not that last bit, that would cost extra. The RS adds neat little displays on the instrument panel such as a G-force meter and fuel economy and performance info screens, although not sure how often you would actually use them, might be nice to play with every now and then just for something different to look at. Also added to the RS is four-wheel disc brakes, the two GLX models come with the old-school drums on the rear, LED projector auto levelling headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry with push button start and climate control air conditioning.

The RS also comes with manual flappy paddle gear changes which is a bit fun when pushing through some nice twisty back roads. A little downside to this though, and something I found a tad irritating, was that the gears would still change automatically before I had the urge to do so myself. For example changing from second to third while accelerating I was wanting to change up at around 6,000 rpm, well short of the 6,250 redline indicated on the tachometer, but the clever little computer brain preferred to flick into the third gear cog at around 5,750 rpm. In saying that, the maximum power, all 82kW of it, does peak at 5,500rpm. A safety feature I guess to avoid any damage to the drivetrain, but irritating nonetheless.

Inside I found the seats to lack a little shape, the drivers seat for example felt a little flat, almost like sitting on a bench and whilst there are side bolsters, a skinnier butt like mine did tend to slide left and right whilst flinging the little hatch through some twisty roads out to the coast. Outside the styling is very smooth and modern with nice accents like the chrome lip below the rear window, speaking of the rear, not a fan of the huge bottom on the Baleno, while this does allow for good luggage and rear seat space it does make the car look like it needs to go on a diet.

Suspension in the RS was fairly harsh too, and given the condition of our roads with uneven surfaces, pot holes, poorly patched etc it did provide for a very uncomfortable ride most if the time, especially at higher speeds on the open road and even more so with all passengers seats occupied. The lower profile tyres attached to the RS (185/55R16 compared to the 175/65R15’s on the GLX) assisted in the firm ride. This is the price one pays for a sportier feel and the great cornering ability the RS provides. There was also a fair amount of road noise, nothing too intrusive, and this could just be drowned out by cranking up the excellent six speaker audio system.

I wasn’t expecting too much performance wise from the engine given that it is only a 998cc three-cylinder power unit producing only 82 kilowatts and 160 newton meters of torque, whereas the GLX models are equipped with the 1373cc 4-cylinder unit. But the Booster Jet Turbo more than makes up to the lack of a fourth cylinder. The RS was very capable off the mark, pulling away from traffic at the lights with ease. Having around 400 extra kilograms of passengers and luggage on board I thought climbing up the Bombay Hills south of Auckland would have been a challenge for the little Suzuki, but she lived up the challenge very well and flew up that hill with ease. Economy is excellent with Suzuki claiming 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the GLX manual, 5.4 for the GLX Auto and a miserly 5.2 for the RS. During our test of the RS with a fair bit of open road driving we managed to achieve an impressive 4.8l/100k, even with the extra weight we were carrying!

As mentioned in my little video, this would be a great little car for a retired couple, a millennial couple thinking of the environment with maybe one offspring to lug around. Would be a great little second car for a family as well for the daily commute.

The Suzuki Baleno range:

Baleno GLX Manual – $21,990 +ORC

Baleno GLX Automatic – $23,990 +ORC

Baleno RS Automatic – $25,990 +ORC (As tested)

Styling 3/5 (Not a fan of the big butt!)

Performance 4/5

Equipment Level 4/5 (Many optional extras available that would bring this up to an easy 5/5)

Comfort 2/5

Economy 5/5

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