Dif­fi­culty fit­ting in makes the Baleno an easy fit

Wheels (Australia) - - Our Garage - CAMERON KIRBY

Spark’s Tardis-like form most ev­i­dent in its adult-friendly rear. De­cent seat com­fort, good legroom, great vi­sion

“HAIL Mary full of grace, please find me a park­ing space.” I’m not a re­li­gious bloke, but I’ll re­cite a small prayer to any de­ity that feels like lis­ten­ing if it helps me find a park­ing spot in the mad­ness of go­ing hunter-gath­erer gro­cery shop­ping.

Thank­fully, the Baleno makes life amidst the mad­ness that is a West­field park­ing sta­tion a lit­tle eas­ier. A while back I had at­tempted to run some er­rands in an Audi RS Q3 whose keys were thrown in my di­rec­tion for the week­end. An SUV, yes, but with a 4410mm length, not ex­actly gar­gan­tuan. How­ever, the Audi’s moon-sized 12-me­tre turn­ing cir­cle forced me to aban­don the ven­ture in sheer white-hot frus­tra­tion be­fore it had even be­gun.

Not so in the Suzuki. Its ab­bre­vi­ated length means it can carve up the carpark with ease. The Baleno’s sole weak­ness in the mad­house of the undergroun­d is its low-geared steer­ing rack, which re­quires much wheel-twirling. But once you’re at full lock, the lit­tle Suzuki has a tight 9.8-me­tre turn­ing cir­cle. That’s iden­ti­cal to a Mazda 2 on 16-inch wheels.

With a re­vers­ing cam­era as stan­dard, park­ing the Baleno GLX is a no-brainer for even the most dent-prone driver.

The Baleno is an out­sider in the light-car school­yard, too pudgey to hang with the svelte su­per­mi­nis like the afore­men­tioned Mazda 2, and not able to rub shoul­ders with the big­ger, more gym-prone small cars like the Volk­swa­gen Golf. It sits some­where in the mid­dle, and that pays off in the con­crete jun­gle. Its 1745mm width meant I wasn’t hav­ing to play ver­ti­cal limbo to squeeze out of the car to avoid smash­ing my door into the neigh­bour­ing ve­hi­cle.

Con­versely, when trans­port­ing co-work­ers who took part in last month’s small-car me­gat­est, it was re­marked how much room was avail­able in the rear-seats com­pared to some of the ve­hi­cles from that com­par­i­son.

With a girl­friend who lives in­ter­state I am left to shop for one, which means I never come close to fill­ing the Baleno’s 355-litre boot. The rear space has great depth, but not a huge amount of length, so you will have to stack items in larger loads. You have to be care­ful which or­der you load your gro­ceries un­less you want a raw tomato sauce hand squeezed by an over­size Milo tin.

It hasn’t all been happy times with the Baleno. The throt­tle tip-in is frus­trat­ing, as there’s a dead spot of travel be­fore the by-wire set-up seems to make a con­nec­tion with the en­gine and you’re jolted for­ward. Is this a fuel-sav­ing mea­sure? What­ever it is, it makes stop-start traf­fic a has­sle.

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