MOTORS Super Suzuki?
THE name Baleno is not a new one for Suzuki. The Japanese marque introduced its original Baleno back in 1995 as a bigger brother to the Swift supermini.
Underneath the three-door hatchback, four-door saloon or estate bodyshell was a stretched Swift platform with certain engines shared. Although it was axed way back in 2002 and not exactly missed, Suzuki have still decided to resurrect the name.
In a way, it’s quite fitting. Although the new car is undoubtedly more interesting to look at than its predecessor, it offers much of the same.
Like the original, it does this by being noticeably larger than the Swift and therefore other vehicles within the supermini class. Unlike the Nineties version, there’s plenty of new componentry that could make the new Baleno a serious competitor in the supermini segment. There are a couple of engine options in the Baleno; Suzuki’s existing 1.2-litre ‘DUALJET’ four cylinder engine with 90PS or a new ‘BOOSTERJET’ 1.0-litre three cylinder powerplant with 112PS.
The 1.2-litre option comes with a mild hybrid system that uses a combined starter and generator to harvest electrical energy when the Baleno slows.
Not only can this charge the battery and start the engine, it can also add additional power when pulling away from a standstill. This promises to bring a useful improvement in both economy and emissions figures.
As you may have guessed from the name, txhe ‘BOOSTERJET’ motor is yet another downsized turbocharged powerplant. While it may lack the hybrid system of the 1.2, clever management of the turbocharger means it shouldn’t be too far behind, even though it will offer significantly more performance. While the platform may be new, the suspension is the familiar mixture of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam out back. Standard hatchback stuff but a package that does allow for a 355-litre boot and plenty of room for rear seat passengers.
Inside, the cabin is clean and uncluttered but not what you’d consider exciting. Still, there is just enough silver trim to lift the ambience while the overall shape of the dash does add to the feeling of width within the car.
Depending on the model you select, available equipment includes daytime LED running lights, climate control, alloy wheels and of course electric windows. Those that must have the latest infotainment system will be interested in the seven-inch touchscreen system that is Apple CarPlay compatible via a USB lead.
Some might think it a little odd that Suzuki seems to be competing with themselves by releasing a second car in the B-segment supermini class. The truth of the matter is that the Swift and Baleno are different enough to ensure they are unlikely to steal sales from each other.
Think of it another way. Volkswagen compete with themselves all the time. A Polo and Fabia may well be in the same class but the latter offers more room while the former has more curb appeal.
With the 1.2-litre appealing to costconscious motorists and the ‘BOOSTERJET’ calling out to those that need more grunt, Suzuki may be perfectly placed to appeal to those looking to downsize.