Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Bill Buys

APART from its en­gine, there's noth­ing small about the Baleno GLX Turbo.

Suzuki's rein­car­na­tion of its Baleno range com­prises the 1.4litre GL (re­viewed a few weeks ago) and the GLX Turbo, which has a smaller but more po­tent pow­er­plant and a lot of ex­tra fea­tures.

The high-tech­nol­ogy cars are built on a lighter and stronger new gen­er­a­tion plat­form and have noth­ing in com­mon with the orig­i­nal Balenos of the mid-1990s.

The 68kW four-cylin­der GL man­ual costs $15,990 and $16,990 with an auto, while the three-cylin­der 82kW 1.0litre GLX Turbo is $21,990 with an auto as stan­dard.

Both cars are hi-spec with stan­dard items, such as a big touch screen with satel­lite­nav­i­ga­tion, cruise con­trol, LED day­time run­ning lights, re­vers­ing cam­era and Ap­ple CarPlay or smart­phones via Mir­rorLink.

The GLX Turbo adds key­less en­try and start, cli­mate con­trol, high-den­sity out­put pro­jec­tor head­lights, multi-fea­ture colour LCD in­stru­men­ta­tion and tele­scopic ad­just­ment on its leather­bound steer­ing wheel. Out­side there's a bit more chrome and it runs on 16-inch al­loy wheels.

Its en­gine, called a Boost­er­jet, does a great job. It's a freerevving, keen-to-please mo­tor that drives the front wheels through a slick six-speed auto – with paddle shift – and it can take the 975kg GLX to 100km/h in 11 sec­onds (about 1.5 sec­onds faster than the GL) and, for the record, on to a 200km/h top speed.

Phys­i­cally big­ger than most of its class ri­vals, the beau­ti­fully styled Baleno in­vites com­par­i­son with some mod­els in the class above.

While giv­ing its driver and front-seat pas­sen­ger oo­dles of room, body sup­port and com­fort, the back seat will hap­pily ac­com­mo­date two burger-fed adults and to sup­ple­ment their di­ets they're even pro­vided with a USB adap­tor for their plug-in de­vices.

There's also a USB port in the glove­box re­cess, plus quite big door pock­ets with built-in bot­tle hold­ers.

The boot bor­ders on the cav­ernous with 355 litres, which can be more than dou­bled by fold­ing the rear seats flat.

The GLX Turbo is a hoot to drive. The con­trols are light and easy to use, the steer­ing has a sporty turn-in, the fairly firm sus­pen­sion holds the road well and the brakes do a fine job.

It's quick off the mark, runs ef­fort­lessly at free­way and open road lim­its, and is gen­er­ally a plea­sure to be in.

The dash dis­play lets the driver see all sorts of stuff not nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with light cars, such as se­lectable me­ters for G-force, en­gine out­put and torque, ac­cel­er­a­tor and brake op­er­a­tion, and a few more.

Good vis­i­bil­ity and the rear cam­era make it easy to park and the ef­fi­ciency of the Boost­er­jet mo­tor is also re­flected in its miserly fuel needs. We av­er­aged 5.7litres/100km, which trans­lates to a range of about 650km from the 37litre fuel tank.

Ver­dict: The made-in-In­dia car (by Maruti) is nicely fin­ished, well en­gi­neered, and the main prob­lem is which of the two lovelies to choose.

Suzuki's Baleno GLX Turbo has a lot to crow about.

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