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The Baleno range of small-medium cars was the first entry in this class to be released in Australia by the Japanese vehicle manufacturer, Suzuki. The Baleno followed a long line of small cars and four wheel drive vehicles which have helped Suzuki build a good reputation for reliability and durability.
The small-medium car class is one of the most competitive segments of the new car market in Australia due to the large number of vehicles on offer. In order to gain an edge, many manufacturers have increased the value of their models by adding additional equipment at no cost, and the latest Baleno model is no exception.
The new Suzuki Baleno is the first update since its introduction to the Australian market a few years earlier. The new model is characterised by a revised frontal appearance and features a number of previously optional extras now standard on all Baleno models.
New bonnet, bumper, grille panel and polycarbonate asymmetrical headlights complete the front end facelift and combine to give the Baleno a modern and distinctive appearance. Overall, the styling still tends to be fairly conservative by current new car standards.
The vehicle evaluated for this report was a new Suzuki Baleno GLX sedan fitted with an automatic transmission. The GLX sedan is fitted as standard with air conditioning, power steering, digital radio cassette with four speakers, power windows, adjustable steering column, central locking, power mirrors, tachometer, clock, cloth trim, intermittent windscreen wipers, carpets and a left foot rest for the driver.
Pricing is one area that has come in for close scrutiny in an attempt to make the Baleno more competitive within the small-medium car market. As a result, the automatic Baleno GLX sedan now retails for $21,490, while the five speed manual version of the GLX sedan is priced at $19,990. The new prices represent an effective saving of $2500 over the superseded Baleno!
The Suzuki Baleno is generally a well built car, although it fails to provide the same solid feel often found in many European built small cars. Panel fit and exterior paint finish were found to be of good quality; however, the exterior colour did not extend to cover the engine bay and the internal boot areas.
The Baleno sedan has good interior space on offer despite being only a small-medium sized car. Front seat occupants enjoy good head and leg room, although comfort could be further improved by a more shapely seat that provides better support. Most adults should find that the rear seating positions offer adequate space even with the front seats in their most rearward position. The boot area is of sufficient size to allow a useful amount of luggage space and a split fold rear seat arrangement adds a further element of versatility not often found in sedans.
The Suzuki Baleno has clearly laid out instruments and the controls are light and simple to operate. Overall, the Baleno is an easy car to drive, assisted by good visibility from the driver's seat.
The 1.6 litre engine produces a modest power output for its size of 70.5 kW and tends to be a little harsh when revved high in its rev range. Nevertheless, on the road the Baleno provides acceptable performance for its class. The automatic transmission is smooth in operation and generally well matched to the power and torque characteristics of the engine. However, the automatic was a little lazy to kick down out of overdrive, preferring to labour the engine in the higher gear which was to the detriment of vehicle speed.
The Suzuki Baleno was found to be quite a sure-footed car around town, traversing uneven surfaces with a minimum of fuss. At highway speeds the Baleno was equally stable and at all times displayed predictable handling characteristics.
The main changes to the new Suzuki Baleno include a revised front end appearance, air conditioning as standard equipment and a reduced selling price.
The Baleno remains a practical vehicle that is easy to drive and offers good interior space. Displaying few vices, the new Baleno is a good all rounder that now represents even better value than before.
|Price of vehicle tested||$21,490|
Good interior space for size
Engine harsh at high revs
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||3 years, 60,000km|
$19,990 - GLX sedan manual
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||1.6 L|
|Induction||Multipoint fuel injection|
|Claimed max power (kW)||70.5 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||134 Nm @ 3000 rpm|
|Wheel size||13 "|
|Turning circle (measured)||10.4 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1690 mm|
|Fuel capacity||51 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||1100 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||17|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||5.9 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||8.7 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||8.9 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||13.7 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||5.9 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||9.6 L/100km|
|Average on test||7.1 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||40.7 (wet) metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||70 (wet) dB(A)|