At the moment Suzuki are not the most exciting car maker in the Irish market. However, they do make some good cars. The Swift still hangs on in the market. The Celerio, which had a ropey start with an almost immediate recall, is receiving warm reviews, and the Vitara is the best they’ve made yet. Now it’s spotlight time for their newest model, the Baleno. Once again, the small brand (in Ireland) is getting some good feedback from journos and punters alike. The main attraction to the Baleno would probably be the reasonable pricing for what you get.
All Suzuki Baleno models in Ireland come with petrol engines. There is a choice between the 1.0, 3-cylinder, Boosterjet engines and the 1.2 litre mild hybrid. The 1.0 range offers 110 bhp, which is good from a small 3-cylinder engine. Top speed from this engine is between 190 and 200km/h and 0-100km/h can be achieved in about 11 seconds. This engine is available with a six-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual box. The 1.2 litre Mild Hybrid model has 89 bhp and will bring you from 0-100km/h in 12.3 seconds. All cars are front wheel drive.
The 1.0 litre engine is probably the engine of choice between the two because it’ll give you a bit more oomph. This car would be on par in terms of size with the likes of the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, and it does need a little more. There’s nothing thrilling about the Baleno’s ride or handling, it’s not terrible, but it is a tad uninspiring.
Around cities, the Baleno is a pretty refined car. Wind and road noise becomes more audible when speeds are picked up – especially on motorways. However, there are louder cars. Another small point is that when you are at motorway speeds, it would be nice to get the sixth gear in the manual version. The steering is light, but unless you’re driving with too much gusto, it’s not problematic.
Once again, price plays its part hear. The interior of the Baleno is not the most padded, nor is it the most luxurious or pleasing to the eye. It’s not exciting, but like with other Suzuki models that we have tested, the materials, while plastic in appearance, seem to be hard wearing.
The Baleno was recently awarded 4 stars in the Euro NCAP safety test. It scored best for adult occupancy with 85%. You will find front driver and passenger airbags and chest airbags, as well as side head airbags to the rear. ISOFIX points come as standard to the rear.
The boot offers 320 litres of space but unfortunately there is a lip on entry that you have to lift items over to get them in. Three adults could be squeezed in the rear, but like most cars in this segment you would be better off leaving it at two.