Suzuki is at last set to introduce autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to the 2021 Baleno range in Australia.
The safety boost should up the European NCAP crash-test score of the increasingly popular value light-car proposition from a disappointing three stars to four, giving it greater appeal against the MG3, Kia Rio and Honda Jazz.
Expected to be announced in the coming weeks if not sooner, the advanced driver-assist technology will form part of a safety pack that is also expected to include adaptive cruise control for the first time in the long-lived series.
Suzuki calls its AEB system ‘Radar Brake Support’, and it – along with the adaptive cruise control functionality – uses a milliwave radar that allows it function effectively at higher speeds, in darkness or during bad weather conditions. The AEB set-up works above 5km/h.
It is unknown as yet whether the safety upgrade will be incorporated in all Baleno models or offered as an additional ‘Safety Pack’ option as in other markets. If the latter is the case, AEB might only make it on the higher-spec GLX grade.
We’re also yet to hear of any other changes to the Indian-sourced Maruti-Suzuki-built Baleno, though don’t expect much, since the model underwent a minor facelift for the Australian market back in June 2019.
It included new headlights, a wider grille, restyled bumpers, different tail-light lenses, an updated multimedia system, improved refinement and higher-quality interior fittings.
The Baleno has gone from strength to strength in Australia since launching in 2016, and sits in third place in Suzuki’s range for sales this year at 2388 registrations, behind the Swift (3032) and Vitara (3452). While that retains the series’ status quo, the latter models are down 43 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively, while Baleno sales are up a whopping 98.3 per cent year-on-year to the end of September.
More importantly, the Baleno has climbing up the VFACTS ‘Micro’ and ‘Light Car <$25K’ charts combined compared to 2019, being one of a handful of superminis (along with the MG3 and Skoda Fabia) to actually gain ground in this COVID-19-affected period. It’s now in eighth place instead of 10th, behind the MG3 (4947), Kia Rio (3855), Toyota Yaris (3821), Suzuki Swift (3032 – though supply issues due to a model changeover affected sales), Kia Picanto (2734), Volkswagen Polo (2598), and Mazda2 (2496).
We’ll bring you more information about the 2021 Suzuki Baleno’s specification update and any other changes as soon as we know more.