Suzuki Baleno is bursting out of the light car passenger segment into the small car space while getting a spurt on in performance with its latest model.
The Baleno comes in two specification levels - GL with a 1.4-litre engine, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
A new engine, the 1.0-litre Booster Jet turbocharged variant, with six-speed automatic transmission has claimed fuel use of 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban/highway cycle. Low consumption is partly attributed to having a standard six-speed automatic transmission as opposed to a four-speed in the non-turbo models. A five-speed manual is also available.
Also weighing in is a new, lighter, platform that makes use of extra-high tensile materials while maintaining structural rigidity and thus occupant safety.
Cabin width has been improved by reducing door liner intrusion into the front seats, pushing the seats further apart to give more shoulder room for the driver and front seat passenger.
The hatch's boot has removable side trims to deliver more space.
There is significantly more space between the front and rear seats than in the Swift, granting back seat passengers 70 mm more knee room. The cargo area can carry 355 litres of gear.
Interestingly, the hatch's boot has removable side trims to deliver more space, allowing items such as a set of golf clubs to be carried sideways.
While extra space is a prime market mover with the new Baleno, Suzuki has taken the opportunity to offer owners improvements in multimedia and graphics.
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.
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.
A central display screen also links to ApplePlay and MirrorLink smartphone interfaces which include music, maps, messages, current track information, audio books and podcasts, as well as navigation and rear camera viewing.
Standard across the Baleno range are automatic headlamps, cruise control with speed limiter, electric windows front and rear, central door locking, remote door locks, USB and auxiliary inputs, 12 volt accessory sockets, an electro-magnetic tailgate release, tinted windows and rear door and tailgate window privacy glass, leather-bound steering wheel, hill hold on automatic transmissions and LED daytime running lights.
Active systems include electronic stability control, anti-locking brakes with electronic brake-force distribution system. Six airbags are standard across the range.
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