New Baleno arrives to expand Suzuki's small car line-up
TOM and Jerry, Mariah and James Packer, Jerry Hall and Rupert, vegemite and avocado, even banana and bacon. Opposites, it seems, really do attract.
And this is the premise of Suzuki's new Baleno, where the manufacturer tells us, space meets style, economy meets performance and reason finds emotion.
The hatch joins the expanding Suzuki range and will take its place alongside the Celerio and Swift hatches, S-Cross crossover as well as the Jimny, Vitara and Grand Vitara SUVs.
Many of you will remember the Baleno nameplate from the 1990s, a conventionally engineered front-wheel drive three-door hatch and four-door sedan, which, at the time, was Suzuki's biggest passenger car in Australia.
Well, banish any comparisons from your mind because this Baleno resembles that model in nothing but name.
The Baleno is slightly larger than the ever-popular Swift and is a new vehicle that bridges the gap between the light and small car segments.
The emphasis is all about useable interior space and although the Baleno is shorter than say the Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla, the cabin is roomier and there is noticeably more legroom for rear seat passengers too.
Under the bonnet
The Baleno shares some of its engine and transmission componentry with the Swift but features Suzuki's new-generation platform that is lighter, stronger, better insulated and more rigid than the one it replaces, allowing for marked improvements in economy, performance and safety.
The Baleno will be offered here with two engines: a 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol in the GL paired with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox and a 1.0-litre BoosterJet GLX with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The latter is an all-new engine for the brand with the Vitara helping out with the transmission.
"Suzuki now has the most potent compact car line-up on the Australian market," Suzuki Queensland sales general manager Steve Craig said.
"The Celerio comes perfectly packaged for new drivers and those down-sizing and in doing so, remains the most affordable car in the micro segment of the market, while the multi-award winning Suzuki Swift continuing to remain a front runner in the light car segment and we have our traditionally unique SUV strengths displayed with S-Cross, as well as the potent and very highly desirable new Vitara models.
"Developing innovative, affordable compact cars with outstanding durability and retained market value is a core sequence within Suzuki's DNA.
"For the first time, with the Baleno, we now are able to give Suzuki buyers who might have one or two young children, the opportunity to stay with the Suzuki brand when stepping up in interior car space from the Swift.
"They now can retain the economical purchase price and operating costs of a compact hatch, rather having to go to an SUV or another brand."
What do you get?
The interior of the Baleno is restrained but well put-together with good use of quality materials and more than acceptable finishing.
The door liner intrusion has been reduced so the front seats are now placed further apart allowing for more shoulder room for the driver and front passenger. Similar design ideas have been used in the cargo space, too, resulting in 355 litres, more than the Ford Focus.
The Baleno (from $16,990 drive-away) comes with a high level of standard equipment with 17.7cm colour touch-screen display infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, reverse camera and guide-me-home headlights across the range. Safety features include six airbags, traction and stability control as well as hill-hold assist and seatbelt pre-tensioners in front and rear seats.
The deal sweetener
Suzuki offers peace of mind with a transferable three year/100,000km warranty and buyers can now keep track of services, warranties and repairs on an online customer lounge.
Until March next year, Suzuki owners who have their cars serviced with a dealer can win up to $35,000 in Suzuki products - that's two Balenos, just quietly.
Model: Suzuki Baleno.
Details: Five-door five-seat two-wheel-drive compact hatch.
Engines: GL- 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of either 68kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 130Nm @ 4000rpm. GLX - 1.0-litre three-cylinder BoostJet turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 82kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 160Nm between 1500-4000rpm.
Transmissions: Five-speed manual, four-speed or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 5.1 litres/100km (combined average, five-speed manual); 5.4L/100km (four-speed auto); 5.2L/100km (six-speed auto).
Bottom line: GL manual $16,990 drive-away, GL auto $17,990 drive-away, GLX $22,990 drive-away.