MO­TORS Su­per Suzuki?

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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.

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