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
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