WEL­COME SUR­PRISE AS HOT NEW HATCH LANDS IN OUR PATCH

With su­perb value for dol­lar, Suzuki is a se­ri­ous con­tender in the small hatch mar­ket

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

SUZUKI BALENO GLX TURBO

Three-cylin­der, 1.0 litre tur­bocharged petrol; 82kW/160Nm Six-speed au­to­matic 5.2 litres/100km (com­bined) From $22,990 (drive away) Per­for­mance and han­dling, value for money FOR many peo­ple, Suzuki is prob­a­bly seen as a niche au­to­mo­tive maker, at least far four-wheeled ve­hi­cles are con­cerned. Its range in­cludes the Kashkai (which ap­par­ently Ja­panese for “hair or­na­ment”, Cele­rio (which sounds like leafy green su­per­food) and the Jimny sounds like some­one mis-heard first time name was men­tioned).

But its new Baleno hatch def­i­nitely marks Suzuki as a le­git­i­mate main­stream con­tender in the al­limpor­tant small mar­ket.

In this world of sat­u­ra­tion so­cial me­dia and ad­ver­tis­ing, it is un­usual to come across car that vir­tu­ally un­known to you. Such was case for me last week when I handed the keys the Baleno.

The sur­prises started im­me­di­ately with fea­tures — push but­ton start, pad­dle shift, speed lim­iter as well as cruise con­trol I nor­mally as­so­ciate

more ex­pen­sive makes and mod­els.

You would think it hard to jus­tify the need for shifters in a car boast­ing a three-cylin­der one-litre en­gine, de­vel­op­ing all of 82Kw of power. But in the GLX Turbo they work won­der­fully well.

It is not full-blooded roar you get from ex­haust and Boost­er­jet di­rect-in­jec­tion turbo en­gine when stamp down, but it doesn’t sound or feel like it’s just tootling about ei­ther.

The GLX the range-top­per of the small (as in two mod­els) Baleno range. (The en­try level GL has a 1.4-litre four­cylin­der petrol en­gine that puts out 68Kw at 6000rpm). It is sure-footed go­ing around bends and the front MacPher­son strut/coil spring rear tor­sion beam/coil sus­pen­sion is not bone-jar­ringly hard or spongy.

The six-speed au­to­matic GLX $5000 more than GL’s drive away price of $17,990 for the four-speed au­to­matic ($16,990 five-speed man­ual).

Apart from ex­tra go un­der bon­net, GLX also comes with key­less en­try and start, 16-inch al­loys, dig­i­tal cli­mate con­trol a 4.2-inch LCD dis­play screen be­tween the two main in­stru­ment di­als.

When not show­ing time (cu­ri­ously in dig­i­tal read­out sur­rounded by an elec­tronic ana­log clock face) and cal­en­dar (even more cu­ri­ous), it can cy­cle through a raft of in­for­ma­tion. Some of it is to be

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