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Suzuki Liana 1000km Road Test

Author: Bill McKinnonDate: 1 March 2002
Suzuki Liana 1000km Road Test

Suzuki builds cheap, practical cars at affordable prices. The Liana mini people mover, which replaces the Baleno, sticks to the formula.

Value for money


At $19,990, the Liana is the cheapest car in the compact people mover class. A four-speed automatic is a $1,900 option.


Three years/100,000 km, which is average.

Standard features

You get plenty of gear for your money. Airconditioning, two front airbags, CD player and power windows and mirrors.

Retained value

The Liana is new, so has no resale history as yet.

Design and function


The deep dash cowl means you're a long way from the windscreen; apart from the fact that you can't see the bonnet at all, vision is excellent around the car.

Taller drivers will use all the seat travel, but head room throughout the Liana is sufficient for basketball players. The instruments are housed in a weird slot-style panel, with a large digital speedo and bar tachometer. Oddment storage space is minimal.

Clarion audio head units often have too many tiny buttons; the Liana's has relatively few, but they are still too small to easily locate without taking your eyes off the road.


The Liana's mini people mover one-box styling, like Honda's Civic Vi and Mazda's Premacy, is designed to extract maximum interior space from a small platform, and provide greater versatility than a conventional hatch.


The Liana has not yet been independently crash tested.


Remote central locking/immobiliser security and a panic alarm are standard.


The driver sits high in a height-adjustable captains chair, proportioned for large physiques. The seat is comfortable enough, but quite flat and smaller occupants will get no upper body support.

Space and practicality

The back seat is only wide enough for two adults, but has easy access and plenty of leg room, even with the front seats set back. Occupants also sit high, on a comfortable, contoured-for-two 60/40 split seat. There's a lap-only belt and no centre head restraint; the outboard head restraints, like those on the front seats, are too far back to be effective against whiplash injury. Three child restraint anchors (one centre clip, two points which need accessory bolts) are located under the tailgate, so carrying young kids will compromises the load area's usefulness.

The load floor is relatively small, but adequate for most suburban day to day needs. If you're taller than 180 cm, you'll bash your head, hopefully only once, on the tailgate latch. Like the absence of spots to put your bits and pieces up front, the lack of shopping bag hooks is an inconvenient omission. At least you get a full-size spare.

The back seat double folds to create a 1.45 metre floor, with a big step in the middle. The front seats retain most of their travel in this configuration.

Build and finish quality

Interior fit and finish is average, but some flex was apparent in the test car's body, and a few rattles as well.

On the road

Fuel efficiency

The Liana is very economical, using 6.3 litres/100 km on the open road and 8.8 litres/100 km in town.


The Liana is powered by an all alloy 1.6 litre four- cylinder engine, which produces 76 kW of power and a healthy (by 1.6 standards) 144 Nm of torque.

It's an economical punchy powerplant. Mid range performance is quite strong when the car is unladen, but fill it with people and gear and, like other 1.6s, you're looking at much slower progress.

Similarly, while the engine is fine around town, a load requires significantly greater use of the five-speed gearbox. An automatic is optional, but probably would struggle to deliver reasonable performance.

The gearbox is a bit loose in action, and the 4-5 shift is occasionally reluctant.


Undulations cause some bounce and float, more so when loaded. Both ends absorb large bumps and potholes quite well; smaller irregularities are less effectively dealt with, as the suspension lacks some initial compliance.

Handling and steering

At suburban speeds, and cruising at 80-100 km/h, the Liana sits quite securely on the road, has decent grip from the Bridgestone tyres, and is untroubled by bumps. Tight corners induce plenty of understeer and body roll.

The steering is extremely vague and remote, with inconsistent rack and pinion gearing which often requires mid-corner adjustments. It is prone to being kicked around on rough roads, and on anything but the smoothest bitumen the wheel often trembles in your hands. It is also feather light, so parking and shopping centre manoeuvres are no problem.


The disc/drum brakes are fine, with good feel at the pedal and resistance to lockup.

Smoothness and quietness

Engine smoothness is quite good, due to liquid filled mounts. However the tyres generate above average noise levels on coarse bitumen, while some transmission noise is also apparent at times.


The Suzuki Liana is nothing flash, but it doesn't pretend to be the greatest. At the price, it is reasonable value for well equipped, spacious and economical transport.

The writer of this report does not necessarily represent the views of the NRMA and this report is provided for you as an alternative to our own NRMA car reviews.

The writer of this report does not necessarily represent the views of the NRMA and this report is provided for you as an alternative to our own NRMA car reviews.

Quick Facts

Make Suzuki
Model Liana
Category Light
Year 2002
Body type 5-door hatchback
Country of manufacture Japan
Warranty 3 years, 100,000km

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