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Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the 2016 Suzuki Baleno with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
The price splits vehicle categories accordingly.
The base model manual is $16,990 drive-away while the most popular model, the GL auto, is $17,990 in the traffic. Metallic paint adds $500.
The Baleno GL comes with a fuel-efficient 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.
The flagship GLX is a fairly large leap to $22,990 drive-away. It's powered by a new generation 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine and matched exclusively to a six-speed auto.
It is a smooth and quiet operator and surprisingly efficient.
The extra cost also buys a lot of added equipment, such as LED headlights, fog lights, alloy wheels, chrome door handles, push button start, a digital instrument display (with, oddly, a G-force meter but no digital speedometer), front and rear disc brakes (the GL has rear drums), height and reach adjustment on the steering wheel (the GL has tilt only), gear shift levers on the steering wheel, and a centre console.
The 1.4-litre petrol with a four-speed auto may sound basic (most other brands have moved to six-speed autos or continuously variable transmissions) but it is a smooth and quiet operator and surprisingly efficient.
But the suspension on the GL feels a touch underdone. On smooth roads it's fine, but the suspension can quickly run out of travel once it encounters a sharp bump.
This is surprising given the Baleno is made in India and should be accustomed to handling rough roads.
The back seat has class-leading leg room, and the boot is big for a small car.
The steering also feels unusual. It is initially too light and then gets heavy as you point straight ahead. Other cars in this category feel more reassuring.
The automatic gear shifter in the GL tested felt flimsy and could easily slip out of gear without the détente button being pressed.
There is no "auto up" on the driver's power window (regarded as the norm these days) and the rear view camera's guiding lines don't turn with the steering.
We're not a fan of the chrome garnish across the tailgate. It looks like an afterthought.
Presumably Suzuki chose chrome so that it did not have the added complexity of matching colours with the bodywork. The garnish cannot be easily removed because it houses the rear camera lens.
The instrument display is bright and clear, day or night, the back seat has class-leading leg room, and the boot is big for a small car (although the load lip is quite high).
This may sound like an unusual observation, but the interior plastics have a unique and unpleasant smell which did not improve with familiarity. We noticed it every time we got in the Baleno.
A space saver spare is in the boot of both models.
The turbo GLX is nicer to drive.
It has a different wheel and tyre combination and retuned suspension.
It handled bumps better than the GL, but still had unevenly weighted steering, most noticeable when negotiating car parks.
The GLX also had a sharper brake pedal feel, thanks to its four-wheel discs.
Neither of these cars are meant to be hot hatches, but we did a 0 to 100km/h test in each model during our assessment to see how they compare.
The 1.4 auto GL did the 0 to 100km/h dash in a leisurely but still respectable 12.4 seconds. The 1.0 turbo GLX completed the same feat in 10.3 seconds.
The Suzuki Baleno will suit buyers looking for a thrifty compact city car with a roomy back seat and a big boot. But we suspect this model is not going to overtake the hugely popular Suzuki Swift.
|GL||1.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$8,000 – 12,320||2016 Suzuki Baleno 2016 GL Pricing and Specs|
|GLX Turbo||1.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$9,900 – 14,960||2016 Suzuki Baleno 2016 GLX Turbo Pricing and Specs|
|GL (qld)||1.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$7,800 – 12,100||2016 Suzuki Baleno 2016 GL (qld) Pricing and Specs|