Energy. Harmony. Perfection.
- Completely new platform featuring high rigidity and low mass
- Streamlined shape links eye-catching design to efficient aerodynamics
- Exceptionally roomy, five-seater interior with class-leading rear legroom
- Proven, popular K14B 1,4-litre engine links performance to economy
- Choice of five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions
The new Suzuki Baleno, which goes on sale in South Africa this month, has been making waves globally since it made its world debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The streamlined hatchback features a head-turning design with short overhangs, sculpted flanks and a strong identity that is both individual and unmistakably Suzuki. Larger than the highly popular Swift, it also offers a spacious, intelligently packaged interior and comprehensive equipment levels.
The new Suzuki Baleno is powered by the tried and tested K14B 1,4-litre engine. The normally aspirated four-cylinder unit already enjoys a reputation for responsive performance and excellent fuel economy, and extends those attributes to its application here.
The new Baleno’s focus on lightweight construction ensures that the engine’s enthusiasm is put to the best possible use, ensuring brisk performance.
Produced in India for international markets, including Japan, the Baleno has already posted sales of more than 100 000 units in just 12 months in India alone, with 60 000 back orders and a 33-week waiting period. It is currently exported to more than 30 markets around the world, including Europe and Australia.
The Baleno joins Suzuki’s extensive range of compact cars, including hatchbacks, sedans, MPVs, SUVs and crossovers, and is expected to further entrench the brand’s reputation for producing excellent compact cars that express the state of the small car art.
“The new Baleno adds a larger and more spacious hatchback to our new car portfolio,” says Charl Grobler, manager of sales and product planning at Suzuki Auto South Africa. “It’s ideal for individuals and families seeking the extra comfort and convenience of larger hatchback, but don’t want to give up the agility and efficiency of the Swift.”
He adds that the Baleno has already built up a reputation for innovative styling, a spacious interior and class-leading features. “But it’s the combination of superior ride and handling, linked to safety and fuel efficiency, that is attracting the attention of customers.”
Suzuki used a so-called ‘Liquid Flow’ design theme for the new Baleno. The concept allows for flowing lines from front to rear, while sculpted accent lines along the sides serve to underline the streamlined shape. Blacked out A and B-pillars, a smooth roofline and a tailgate neatly integrated into the wind-cheating profile add to the Baleno’s sleek, athletic look.
The front view is dominated by the deep, wide grille and large Suzuki-logo. The grille seamlessly links to the bold, clear-lensed headlight clusters on either side. The integrated bumper also separates the grille from the large lower air intake, with recessed fog lamps located on either side in the case of GLX models.
The raked, curved windscreen also adds to the streamlined shape, as do the aerodynamically shaped exterior mirrors. Pronounced contours emphasise the wheel arches, which are home to 15-inch steel or 16-inch alloy wheels, depending on model.
The rear is chunky and muscular, with a broad integrated rear bumper, prominent tail light clusters and a wide-opening tailgate that offers convenient access to the generous luggage compartment. A rooftop spoiler is standard on GLX models.
The Baleno’s streamlined shape isn’t just attractive – it’s also aerodynamically efficient with a drag coefficient of just 0,299, making it the most aerodynamic production model Suzuki has ever produced.
The first impression of the new Suzuki Baleno’s interior is of space: the cabin feels much roomier than its compact exterior proportions suggest. That’s especially true of the rear bench seat, which is wide enough for three occupants, and offers ample shoulder room, with legroom to match.
In fact, the distance between the front seat backrest and the rear bench seat, also referred to as the tandem distance, is an impressive 805 mm, which is 70 mm more than the Swift. In overall terms, the Baleno’s interior is 87 mm longer than that of the Swift, which accounts for the singular impression of roominess in the newcomer’s cabin.
The rear bench seat is divided 60:40, allowing each section to be folded flat individually to create range of seating versus cargo space options. The luggage compartment is generous at 355 litres with the rear bench seat raised, and can be extended to 756 litres with the rear seated folded flat. Total rear volume to roof height with the seat folded flat is 1 085 litres.
The width of the cabin is emphasised by the smooth expanse of the instrument panel, which is home to an instrument binnacle directly ahead of the driving position. A 6,2-inch colour display for the infotainment system is located in the centre stack in the case of GLX models.
The dashboard tapers towards the passenger side door, and incorporates a glove compartment ahead of the front passenger. Smart, dark soft-touch surfaces and silver accents create an elegant impression, augmented by the charcoal fabric upholstery.
Ample storage is provided via the glove compartment, as well a storage binnacles in the centre console and the bottom of the centre stack. The front doors get storage pockets too, while cup holders and bottle holders are provided front and rear.
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
The Baleno employs an all-new platform, designed specifically to be more rigid while reducing overall weight. Despite being larger than the Swift, the Baleno is 11 percent lighter, with a kerb mass of just 915 kg.
The Baleno’s body is an integral part of the quest for less weight and improved rigidity. Its smooth, curved shape requires fewer joints and therefore less reinforcements. Using special, high-tensile steel, the basic body shell weighs just 196 kg – the lightest in the B-segment hatchback class.
Weight saving measures have been applied to every component of the new Baleno, including the doors, suspension, seats and the brakes. The reduced kerb mass benefits performance by improving the Baleno’s power-to-weight ratio, and also enhances economy. Handling and refinement also benefit significantly.
The body isn’t only lighter, but also expresses Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) concept, which focuses on enhancing occupant protection. Thus, the Baleno’s lightweight body and high-tensile steel panels disperse impact forces more evenly and efficiently in the case of a collision.
The Baleno rides on an independent front suspension consisting of MacPherson struts, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar in front, combined with a torsion beam, coil springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar at the rear.
The steering is electrically assisted, while the ABS-assisted brake system comprises front discs and rear drums in the case of the GL model, and discs all round for GLX variants.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
The new Baleno is equipped with a comprehensive array of active and passive safety systems, all operating against the backdrop of its TECT-optimised body shell, which enhances crashworthiness through efficient dispersion of impact forces.
All Baleno models come with ABS anti-lock brakes, augmented electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency braking assistance (EBA). Dual front airbags are standard too, while GLX models also get side and curtain airbags.
Inertia reel seatbelts are fitted to all five seating positions. The front seat belts feature pre-tensioners and load limiters. Adjustable head restraints are provided for all five occupants.
Other safety and security-related features include IsoFix child seat tethers integrated into the rear bench seat, childproof rear door locks, side impact protection beams and an alarm/immobiliser system. Remote central locking is also standard.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
In South Africa, all three Suzuki Baleno models are powered by the same 1,4-litre engine.
The tried and trusted K14B four-cylinder unit is already a popular choice in the Swift, Ertiga and Ciaz model ranges, and produces 68 kW of maximum power at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 130 Nm at 4 200 r/min.
Highlights of the normally aspirated, 1 373 cc power unit includes four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and multipoint fuel injection, all conspiring to deliver an optimum combination of power and economy.
The engine also links up to the Baleno’s weight-saving theme, thanks to an aluminium cylinder head, while a pent-roof combustion chamber, and a crossflow intake and exhaust valve configuration contribute to the engine’s exemplary efficiency.
While the same engine is used across the range, Baleno buyers have a choice of two gearboxes: a five-speed manual, and a four-speed automatic transmission. Drive is to the front wheels in both cases.
PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMY
With an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 76,5 kW/ton for the manual transmission model, and 74,9 kW/ton for the automatic version, the new Baleno offers sprightly performance and impressive fuel economy.
Manual gearbox derivatives accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 10,9 seconds, and achieve a top speed of 180 km/h. The automatic model boasts a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 11,6 seconds, while top speed is 170 km/h.
The Baleno’s light kerb mass also translates into positive, agile handling characteristics. The responsive rack-and-pinion steering is electrically assisted, which is more efficient than older hydraulic systems.
Average fuel consumption for the combined cycle comes to 5,1 litres/100 km for the manual model, and 5,4 litres/100 km for the automatic version. The rated CO2 exhaust gas emissions are 120 g/km for manual models, and 128 g/km for the automatic version.
MODEL RANGE AND SPECIFICATION
The new Suzuki Baleno is offered in two specification grades. The more affordable GL spec level is offered in conjunction with the manual gearbox only, while the upmarket GLX versions can be ordered with either the manual or the automatic transmissions.
However, even the so-called entry-level GL version is comprehensively equipped inside and out. Standard exterior features include colour-coded exterior mirrors and door handles, blacked out A and B-pillars, multi-reflector halogen headlights, and green-tinted windows.
The Baleno GL runs on 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, shod with 175/65 R15 tyres. The spare wheel is a space saver, located under the luggage compartment floor.
Inside the spacious cabin, smart cloth upholstery creates an elegant impression, underlined by the upmarket black dashboard trim, complete with silver accents. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable, while the rear bench seat is split 60:40 and can be folded flat individually or completely.
Electric windows front and rear are standard, as is manual air-conditioning with a pollen filter, remote central locking, and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors. The front sun visors both feature vanity mirrors.
The instrument binnacle is home to large circular dials for the speedometer and rev counter, together with indicators for engine temperature and fuel tank level. The two main dials are separated by a bright digital display for the Baleno’s on-board computer.
Selectable information includes range, instant and average fuel consumption, time, and trip distance travelled. The display also incorporates the car’s odometer.
The instruments are neatly framed by the tilt-adjustable multifunction steering wheel, which features integrated controls for the audio system, and the Bluetooth-based hands-free telephony system.
In the Baleno GL, the audio system comprises an MP3-compatible CD receiver with six loudspeakers, offering integrated Bluetooth for both hands-free telephony and audio streaming. There’s also a USB port, a 3,5 mm stereo auxiliary input, and a 12V power socket.
The GLX specification grade offers everything on the GL list, but with some notable additions and upgrades.
Viewed front on, the headlights represent the most noticeable difference. They feature HID projector elements and LED daytime running lights, while low-mounted recessed fog lamps are standard, too. The exterior mirror housings incorporate integrate turn indicator repeaters.
Additional exterior features that set the GLX apart from its GL stablemate include the chrome-finished door handles, as well the chrome beltline mouldings and chrome tailgate garnish, while the tailgate features a roof-end spoiler. Privacy glass for the rear windows and rear screen is standard, as are revised tail light clusters.
The GLX models are fitted with upgraded wheels and tyres. The 16-inch alloys are shod with 185/55 R16 tyres.
Inside, the Baleno GLX shares the same, smart fabric upholstery and door panels with the GL, as well as the upmarket dashboard finishes, complete with silver accents. Immediately noticeable, however, is the presence of a 6,2-inch TFT colour screen in the centre of the dashboard, which serves as the interface for the Baleno’s infotainment system.
The instrument cluster remains the same, but the digital display is upgraded to a
4,2-inch TFT colour display, and gains the ability to display average speed and ambient temperature, as well as a graphic representation of engine power and torque output. The steering wheel features a leather-trimmed rim, and is adjustable for both reach and rake.
The multifunction steering wheel gets additional controls for the cruise control, which is included in the GLX specification. Also upgraded is the air-conditioning, which is now fully automatic. And rear park distance control is fitted as standard, too.
Remote central locking remains standard, but is augmented by keyless starting. The interior lighting adds a front map reading light to the centrally mounted cabin light, while the centre console is fitted with an armrest over the centre storage box.
GLX models gain side and curtain airbags, bringing the total tally to six, while the ABS braking system features rear disc brakes, instead of the GL model’s rear drums.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
The new Baleno is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km/12 month intervals.