Car News

Suzuki launches the new Baleno to tempt Corolla buyers

The new Suzuki Baleno has arrived in Australia boasting small car dimensions but genuine room for a family of four.

IF YOU WANT A small car, then you need to keep changing models. That’s because every year any given car seems to grow just a fraction wider, longer, taller and of course heavier. Just look at the original Mini vs the models of today, or BMW’s original 5 Series which is smaller than today’s 3 Series. The concept of a value-for-money, small, light car is being eroded with every new model release.
Baleno_GL_F34
 
Unless you’re Suzuki, who are still squarely focused on small SUVs and cars. Practical Motoring spent some time with Andrew Moore, Suzuki Australia managing director, who told us that Suzuki “prides itself on value for money” and are presently in third position for light-car sales, behind Mazda and Honda. Suzuki is hoping to jump into at least second place on the back of the Vitara, and the new Baleno.
 
We had a good look at the Baleno during our visit, and it’s a true small car – larger than the Swift (which means it has a useable boot) but smaller than Corolla or Mazda 3, and much lighter at less than 1000kg. That’s not even as heavy as the Mazda MX-5, and it’s “lighter than Swift, but more spacious” as Andrew noted.
 
BALENO_GL_PremiumSilver_HeroF3_4
 
Lightness is just goodness – because the car is light, it can make do with a tiny engine, tiny engines don’t need much space, and the engine compartment can be smaller so more of the car’s length can be devoted to occupant space not engine space. Andrew was keen to point out that the Baleno is shorter than Corolla or Mazda 3, yet has comparable interior space with a “similar boot to Corolla, bigger than Mazda 3”.
 
So how does the Baleno compare against those two best-sellers?

Mazda 3, Corolla and Suzuki Baleno hatches (base model automatic)

 Toyota Corolla AscentMazda 3 NeoSuzuki Baleno GL
Length (mm)433044603995
Width (mm)176017951745
Height (mm)147514551470
Weight (kg)12551262935
Fuel cons (combined, L/100km)6.15.85.4
Driveaway (Victoria)$23,252$25,316$17,990
 
The Baleno is appreciably shorter and much cheaper, although we’ve not done a like-for-like specification check. It would seem likely that the Baleno offers all the basics expected today – cruise control, Bluetooth, satnav, reversing camera – but can’t match the features of its competitor’s top-end models with heated seats or rain-sensing wipers. What it does have that not every car can offer is something every child will love and that’s a 12v socket in the second row. For kids that’s almost as good as a Pokemon sensor up front.
 
Safety will be interesting. Both Corolla and Mazda 3 are 5-star, whereas Baleno has so far scored 4 star in Europe. However, that appears to be mostly due to a low level of advanced safety aids, so it might score 5-star over here and Andrew Moore said he was “hopeful” of a top rating to match Vitara and Swift.
 
BALENO_GLX_RevCam
Same reversing camera as in Vitara.
 
There’s two specifications of Baleno, differentiated not so much by their trim level but the engine. There’s a four-cylinder 1.4L good for 68kW (not much, but remember that 935kg weight) and a 1.0L petrol turbo, 3 cylinder, good for 82kW.  Not only is the GLX more powerful, but it gets a six-speed automatic which gives the engine much more chances to stay in its best power or efficiency rev range than the GL’s four-speed unit or five-speed manual.

2016 Suzuki Baleno Specifications

 GLGLX Turbo
Engine1.4L petrol 4 cyl1.0 petrol turbo 3 cyl
Power68kW / 6000rpm82kW / 5500 rpm
Torque130Nm / 4000rpm160Nm 1600-4000rpm
Transmission4 auto or 5 manual6 auto
Length (mm)3995
Height (mm)1470
Width (mm)1745
Transmission5-manual, 4-auto6-auto
Fuel cons, combined (man/auto)5.1 / 5.45.2
Fuel tank (l)37
Weight (kg)Approx 935kg
Turning circle (m)9.8
Seats5
BrakesDisc front, drum rearDiscs front and rear
Tyres & wheels175/65/15, steel185/55/16, alloy
HeadlightsHalogen (normal)HID
Paddle shiftsN/AYes
Steering wheel adjustmentTiltTelescopic, tilt
Dash displaysBasic informationAdds torque, G-force
SatnavStandard
Reversing cameraStandard
SpareSpace-saver
 
 There’s four colours, none of the eycatching bright ones you find in the Vitara which is typically bought by younger people:
balenos
The interior looks different. Here’s GL and GLX:
 
interior
 
A feature of the GLX is a small TFT panel in the dash which can be configured to show G-forces and various other information displays such as fuel consumption. Personally, I find that most people play with these things once and then forget about it, but Andrew Moore says it “adds style” to the car.
 
BALENO_GLX_Guage
 
Here’s the pricing. Warranty is three years 100,000km which can be extended to 5 years 130,000km if you take up and keep to the capped price servicing regime.
 

BALENO MODEL

TRANSMISSION

RRP

DRIVEAWAY

GL

Manual

$15,990

$16,990

 

Automatic

$16,990

$17,990

GLX Turbo

Automatic

$21,990

$22,990

Overall, it looks like the Baleno will be a serious small-car competitor. Suzuki have a good reputation for such vehicles, and this one has all the features expected in a base model 2016 vehicle at a very sharp price. We have lined up a Baleno on test; check back soon for the review. Also coming soon is more about our chat with Suzuki’s Australian boss.

BALENO_GLX_PremiumSilver_DrivingSide

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6 Comments

  1. Azmodan
    July 29, 2016 at 7:34 pm — Reply

    I know Corolla owners have no taste, but seriously this is even uglier by quite a stretch, so why do they think it’ll tempt them. And even worse it’s power puts it fighting in the Yaris class, so Suzuki are totally delusional.

    • July 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm — Reply

      Power means nothing without weight. Check out the power to weight ratios then come back and post.

      • godafoss
        August 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm — Reply

        LOL

        If you think this thing has a good power to weight ratio I have a lawn mower to sell you.

    • Alien
      July 31, 2016 at 8:45 am — Reply

      Corolla owners have no taste. LOL. Yeah only you have taste. Yeah.

      • godafoss
        August 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm — Reply

        Hey so you get it. Well done.

        • Alien
          August 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm — Reply

          Yeah and clowns have tastes.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper