Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5
of Suzuki and you tend to
picture compact 4x4s and nippy
superminis. Both of which they do
brilliantly. So its easy to overlook
their practical and affordable Golf-
sized hatchback, the Baleno...
IF YOU'VE GOT SUPERMINIS on your mind then your shortlist will no doubt
include some of the following names Corsa, Fabia, Fiesta, and Jazz, as
well as the Swift from Suzuki's own stable; all of them economical and good
to drive whilst not breaking the bank. Adding 'Baleno' to that list would be
a wise move.
Why? Well for a start it's big on three things buyers are after: space, kit
and economy. Starting with the last first, it promises to out-do Scrooge when
it comes to spending money, especially for fuel.
There are two engine choices, both petrol: a turboed triple-cylinder direct
injection 1.0-litre with 109bhp, and a less powerful but larger capacity 88bhp
1.2 four-pot 'mild hybrid' that emits 94g/km. But
it's the triple that seems to be hitting the spot with Baleno customers, and
that's what we've be driving this past week. After eight days behind the wheel
we can see why they like it so much.
might have a mere 998cc but its 109bhp endows the Baleno with a top speed of
124mph. Not that the typical Baleno owner is going to be belting along at three-figures,
but it shows there's enough in hand for the Baleno to be a relaxing motorway
mile-eater. And while it can go well into ton-plus territory, it's more than
nippy lower down the scale off the blocks to 62mph takes 11.4 seconds
so it's no tail-end Charlie.
might have just 998cc
but the Baleno can go
well into ton-plus
territory, to 124mph.
And its more than nippy
lower down the scale
off the blocks to 62mph
takes 11.4 seconds,
so its no
As a breed, triples can be identified by their characteristic thrum but
don't go mistaking 'thrum' for 'thrashy' because the Baleno's one-litre Boosterjet
engine is never that; press the loud pedal and this lively three-pot spins up
crisply, but even then it's fairly aurally reserved. Driving through a five-speed
manual 'box it feels peppy, it's peak torque of 125lb ft (on tap from 2,000
through to 3,500rpm) delivering ample in-gear grunt; even in fourth and fifth
there's good pick up without dropping down a ratio.
When you do need to use the gears at lower speeds, the change action is willing
in fact you rarely notice that you're changing up or down as it's all
(clutch pedal and the 'stick') pretty smooth. For the record, if you prefer
an autobox you can have one bolted to the three-pot SZ5 a six-speeder,
it adds £1,380 to the drive-away price.
Kerb weights for the Baleno models tip the scales at between 920kg and 980kg
(making it the lightest 'B' segment hatchback of its class in one case
by more than 200kg). Which means there's a payback waiting for you at the pumps
because officially it could return 62.8mpg although few owner-drivers
would be unhappy seeing a regular 50mpg.
Just to remind you that at MotorBar we don't try to coax the best economy
out of a car; out aim is to pin down the actual on-the-road mpg figure that
owners can expect not hope to achieve. Given our 51.8mpg test
average over mixed roads (and in fuel-greedy snow and ice), there's no reason
why regular drivers won't be able to consistently hit the mid- or even high-fifties.
on to the 'space'… the Baleno is larger than its Swift stablemate, with which
it shares a new platform. If you regularly need to fill four seats, each of
the Baleno's is accessed easily through a large side door (the Baleno only comes
in a five-door bodyshape). Close the doors and you realise just how much room
Suzuki has managed to fit inside: there's a fist of headroom up front, plenty
of legroom front and back, and more luggage space than usually found in a supermini.
Families will be pleased to find that everything fits in even the family
dog between the rear passengers.
than-average weight is
not only good news
for economy it doesnt
do its handling any
harm either. If feels agile
and despite the light-ish
power steering you
can punt it with some
still in your pocket (keyless entry with engine start is standard), get behind
the three-spoke wheel with its good-to-grip leather rim and you'll like the
driving position it's almost crossover-ish in that you feel you're sitting
tall with good views out. A deep windscreen (heated as it happens) ensures a
clear view of the road ahead and to the sides, so placing the Baleno accurately
is a breeze and when parking up, the short, upright front overhang and
reversing sensors at the tail and rear-view camera make things as easy as can
The fabric upholstered front seats are comfortable, as they proved when we were
at a standstill on the motorway for an hour after an hour's hard driving in
the wintery conditions and with another hour still to go. And, although without
seat heaters, they were warm to sit on and doubtless will be equally pleasant
to sit on when the sun's blistering the blacktop in the summer. Green-tinted
windows and rear privacy glass also help take the sting out of blazing sunshine,
plus there's automatic AirCon with a pollen filter.
And plenty of in-cabin storage, too, with a fair-sized glovebox, accommodating
door bins that hold large bottles and not just cans in addition to all the everyday
'stuff', several deep open bins-cum-cupholders on the centre console and a central
armrest with a box underneath. Naturally there are electrically-adjustable heated
door mirrors, power windows with one-touch up/down operation for the driver,
and height-adjustable seatbelts.
Whatever the size of their budget, today's car buyers all want the best Comms
for their bucks. The Baleno comes well-specced with a seven-inch colour touchscreen
infotainment system. It's got everything you need: SatNav, MirrorLink and Apple
CarPlay smartphone connectivity, integrated reversing camera with guidance grid,
Bluetooth, and DAB radio.
navigation is idiot-proof with full postcode input; the sharp graphics and 3D
mapping with landmarks along with clearly spoken directions will get you where
you're going without any U-turns.
a touch of the
Tardis about the Baleno
as not only is the front
cabin spacious but
theres masses of room
for feet in the back
as well as enough space
for legs to be properly
touchscreen is zoned into four sections Listen (media and radio), Call
(handsfree phone), Drive (navigation), and Connect (MirrorLink/Apple CarPlay
connectivity) and there are no 'extra' buttons or controls outside the
touchscreen; on-screen soft-touch 'pads' are there for your fingertip to adjust
things such as sound levels, start voice control (for the SatNav, radio and
telephony), etc. Tapping the star in the centre of the display calls up timesaving
shortcuts for each zone. Should you prefer, you can for many of these commands,
use the remote controls on the multifunction wheel. Those with a merry-go-round
social life will be relieved to know that apart from making calls the system
also allows the driver to access email and text messages, and more.
data is equally straightforward with, ahead of the driver, two main dials with
stand-out blue detailing bracketing a multifunction 4.2-inch colour driver's
information screen. Between them these colourful displays boost the cabin ambiance
You don't expect masses of room in a supermini but the Baleno's rear cabin definitely
has a touch of the Tardis about it. Not only is it easy to get into courtesy
of wide-opening doors, but once there you sit noticeably higher than those in
front so in addition to good views out to the side through deep windows you
can also see what's going on through the windscreen.
The backrests are set at a relaxing angle and the seats well padded. Along with
masses of foot- and knee-room there's space enough to properly stretch out your
legs a rarity in this class. The outer rear armrests are wide enough
to be effective and have padded elbow pads for extra comfort. Three adults can
sit side-by-side as even the centre spot is pleasant to use; lose one and a
pair of six-footers can travel in comfort. Large bottles can be carried in the
door pockets and the pouch on the back of the passenger's seatback will hold
a lot more than just a map or magazine. Isofix child seat anchorages and tethers
are also fitted.
Baleno's lighter-than-average weight is not only good news for economy but doesn't
do its handling any harm either. If feels agile and despite the light-ish power
steering you can punt it with some enthusiasm. Even on icy roads it proved predictable,
and out of sight the stability control is always watching your back to keep
things shipshape; you won't feel it intervening but you might spot the telltale
light dancing on the driver's information screen when it does.
can certainly rely
on the brakes they did
a great job of managing
a full emergency stop
from 50mph when a car
ahead did something
The Baleno, thankfully,
stopped really quickly
in a straight line with
absolutely no fuss the
only drama was our
week of snow and ice (thank you, Beast from the East!) prevented us from pressing
the Baleno as hard as we usually would but nonetheless it performed very well
in the treacherous conditions, including on one very dicey downhill motorway
exit lane that was veneered with black ice thankfully the external temperature
is always on show in the top corner of the trip computer and with it indicating
minus five we were pre-warned.
we did get a chance to safely up the pace the Baleno served up a drive that
made easy-going of all roads from country lanes to peak-time motorways. Ride
comfort is forgiving enough given the state of our roads. All-in-all it does
a very respectable job of getting you from A to B without any upsets.
you can certainly rely on the brakes they did a great job of managing
a full emergency stop from 50mph when a car ahead did something incredibly stupid.
The Baleno, thankfully, stopped really quickly in a straight line with absolutely
no fuss the only drama was our tester's pulse-rate!
The Baleno also offers more room for you and your passengers' luggage than other
superminis lift the high-rising fifth door and you'll be able to load
up to 320 litres (that's usefully more than the boots of some cars even from
the class above). Fold down the back seats and this expands to 756 litres (they
sit flat and merge seamlessly with the boot floor); load to the roof and you'll
be able to fit in 1,085 litres.
Very versatile too is the dual level boot floor: it folds across its middle
so it's easy to lift the 'lid' and store quite large items in the full-width
and full-length underfloor compartment. Alternately it can be set to its lower
position, adding extra litres of space and several inches of depth to the boot.
then there's a third way with the second row seatbacks down the removable
boot floor can be folded in two and used as a luggage board to divide up the
boot widthways, creating either a two-section or a single larger corral within
the boot for custom luggage requirements. And while you might not be expecting
a 'tiny' triple to tow much at all, the Baleno is stronger than you think
it will haul up to a braked 1,000kg.
Baleno offers more
room for you and your
than other superminis;
lift the high-rising fifth
door and youll be able to
load up to 320 litres
thats usefully more than
the boots of some cars
even from the class
SZ5 is extremely well equipped for the money and features several so-called
'big car' features such as adaptive cruise control and Radar Brake Support with
It was undoubtedly this that saved our bacon in our emergency stop situation
because RBS continually radar-scans ahead for any risk of a collision
alerting the driver both aurally and visually of the need to brake.
its obvious hints and, if a collision seems unavoidable, it will apply the brakes
automatically. Reassuringly, the radar technology enables it to work even at
high speeds, as well as in darkness, and in rain or other bad weather. You can
also set the warning threshold distance at Far or Near using a button on the
dash (best do as we did and set it to Far for a longer safety gap).
with a four-star EuroNCAP safety rating come six airbags, HID projector headlights,
LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, auto lights, tyre pressure monitoring,
and front fog lamps.
Welcome news financially if you're not into changing your car every time the
registration mark updates or when the next fashion trend hits the showrooms,
is that the Baleno's contemporary look won't give away its age anywhere near
as quickly as its styled-for-the-moment rivals.
Fronted by a rather distinctive shield-like grille with high-set cut-in headlights
whose LED daytime running lights link neatly with the upward curving tips of
the chrome accent bar underscoring the grille, and sculpted doors with easy-to-grasp
chromed door handles bracketed by a set of multi-spoked 16-inch alloys housed
in subtly flared and noticeably flat-cut wheelarches, the Baleno is agreeably
easy on the eye.
'Decent' has had some bad press recently (as too has 'nice') but it's still
a meaningful word, so when we say that the Baleno is a decent drive it's most
definitely a compliment. It's also very spacious given its four-metre footprint,
with plenty of room for people and their luggage. Add to that 50mpg and a generous
equipment tally and you have a supermini that you'd be wise not to overlook.
Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 11.4 seconds | Test Average: 51.8mpg
Power: 109bhp | Torque: 125lb ft | CO2: 105g/km