Baleno is back with much more

South Western Times - - WHEELS - Derek Og­den

SOME­THING old, some­thing new, some­thing bor­rowed and, if you wish, some­thing (Pre­mium Ray) Blue. That’s what’s on of­fer with the new Suzuki Baleno – the name, the de­sign, the en­gine and the colour.

Sound­ing more like an ex­otic dance, the Baleno took its first steps in the 1990s as a “light” pas­sen­ger car. Now it has jumped the fence into the “small” pas­sen­ger seg­ment, hav­ing the exterior di­men­sions of the for­mer with in­te­rior space of the lat­ter.

The new Baleno comes in two spec­i­fi­ca­tion lev­els – GL with a 1.4litre en­gine, with ei­ther a fivespeed man­ual or four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and the GLX Boost­er­jet 1.0-litre tur­bocharged vari­ant, with six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Big­ger than its sib­ling, the topselling Swift, it shares en­gines and trans­mis­sions in some mod­els.

The tur­bocharged Baleno (the test car), which fea­tures a new three-cylinder di­rect-in­jec­tion Boost­er­jet sys­tem, has claimed fuel con­sump­tion of 5.2 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres on the com­bined ur­ban / high­way cy­cle. More about this in our Driv­ing sec­tion.

The new Baleno comes to mar­ket from $16,990, drive away, for the 1.4litre GL five-speed man­ual, with the four-speed auto ad­ding $1000 to the price. The top-spec 1.0-litre Boost­er­jet turbo six-speed auto joins in at $22,990.

The Baleno has taken the road of the ma­jor­ity of mod­ern small hatch­backs with a a rea­son­ably sleek look, with­out com­pro­mis­ing in­te­rior space and all-round vi­sion.

Suzuki Baleno GLX does what a top-spec ve­hi­cle should do – add lit­tle touches pleas­ing to the eye, if not to the pocket. Up front there are high in­ten­sity dis­charge head­lamps, in­cor­po­rat­ing day­time run­ning lights, while the look is lifted with 16-inch twin-spoke al­loy wheels.

Cabin width has been im­proved by re­duc­ing door liner in­tru­sion into the front seats. Push­ing the seats fur­ther apart gives more shoul­der room for the driver and front pas­sen­ger.

There is ex­cel­lent knee and legroom be­tween the front and rear seats and the Baleno can carry four adults with ease.

Even with the rear seat backs up, the cargo area can carry 355 litres of gear. In an in­ter­est­ing de­sign move re­mov­able side trims in the boot de­liver more space, al­low­ing items such as a set of golf clubs to be car­ried side­ways.

A cen­tral dis­play screen, sit­u­ated high on the cen­tral dash­board, is ideally placed at driver’s eye level with links to Ap­plePlay and Mir­rorLink smart phone in­ter­faces which in­clude mu­sic, maps, mes­sages, cur­rent track in­for­ma­tion, au­dio books and pod­casts, as well as nav­i­ga­tion and rear cam­era view­ing.

The 7.0-inch colour touch­screen home page is a sim­ple quad­rant which acts as the key to en­try to au­dio, phone, sat nav and smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity. The screen is flanked by air-con out­lets, while con­trols and tem­per­a­ture gauge are po­si­tioned be­neath within easy reach of the driver and front seat pas­sen­ger.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion of graph­ics mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems in­clude en­gine power and torque out­puts; real-time driv­ing and tracked G-forces; ac­cel­er­a­tor and brake ef­fi­cien­cies; and av­er­age speed and fuel con­sump­tion.

The 1.0-litre Boost­er­jet three­cylin­der mo­tor, with its six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, has it all over its 1.4-litre non-turbo brother in per­for­mance and fuel ef­fi­ciency. But there is a price to pay: $6000 to be pre­cise.

Six airbags are stan­dard across the Baleno range, front and rear seats are equipped with pre-ten­sion­ers, side doors are fit­ted with anti-in­tru­sion beams. Ac­tive sys­tems in­clude elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-lock­ing brakes with an elec­tronic brake-force dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem.

Also ad­ding to safety is a new, lighter stronger plat­form that makes use of some ex­tra-high-ten­sile ma­te­ri­als while main­tain­ing struc­tural rigid­ity and thus oc­cu­pant safety.

On tak­ing po­si­tion, the driver is in­tro­duced to the Baleno via an in­for­ma­tion dis­play at the heart of the in­stru­ment clus­ter giv­ing a clear pic­ture of the state of the ve­hi­cle.

A 4.2-inch colour LCD screen dis­plays a range of in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing fuel ef­fi­ciency, en­gine out­put, av­er­age ve­hi­cle speed and driv­ing style.

In ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional dis­play in­for­ma­tion such as speed and en­gine revs, trip me­ters, dis­tance to empty, av­er­age speed and warn­ings, driv­ers can tai­lor the dash­board dis­play to any one of six set-ups.

At com­bined fuel cy­cle con­sump­tion of 5.2 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres for the 1.0-litre turbo is close to re­al­ity, some­thing that’s not all that com­mon these days. In the real world, the Boost­er­jet test car clocked 5.7 litres per 100km in city traf­fic and 3.6 litres per 100km at free­way speeds.

A lighter but ex­tra-strong plat­form us­ing high ten­sile ma­te­rial puts the Baleno ride and han­dling up with the best in the seg­ment, while disc brakes all round on the GLX rein in the Boost­er­jet power when re­quired.

The rein­vented Suzuki Baleno is a world away from its 1990s coun­ter­part with an at­trac­tive de­sign and spa­cious in­te­rior, while Boost­er­jet power de­liv­ers pleas­ing per­for­mance with wel­come fuel econ­omy. It’s an ap­peal­ing pack­age.

The Suzuki Baleno re­turns – with the lat­est looks and ex­cel­lent cabin space.

The Baleno has taken the road of the ma­jor­ity of mod­ern small hatch­backs with a a rea­son­ably sleek look.

A dis­play screen, sit­u­ated high on the cen­tral dash­board, is ideally placed at driver’s eye level.

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