Once the most popular segment of the Australian market, the compact urban runaround has since been left in the dust by large sedans and in more recent times, SUVs, and we think that’s a shame.
Cars like the Suzuki Baleno, however, are a perfect and timely reminder that the majority of your needs can be met by a humble, affordable hatch, while being significantly more fun to drive around town, cheaper to run and offering more bang for your buck than anything on the market. Recently, Suzuki updated the Baleno with more features than ever before, so with that in mind, is it still a box-ticking machine for young or price-conscious buyers, and just how well does it perform compared to its competitors? Let’s find out.
Starting Price: $17,740
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Suzuki Baleno (GL) Specifications
|Fuel type||UNLEADED PETROL|
|Transmission||4 SP AUTOMATIC|
|Engine configuration||OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves|
|Engine RPM||6000 / 4000|
|Fuel tank size||37.0|
|Fuel usage specs||5.4 / 0.0|
|ANCAP security rating||Unrated|
For more details and other variants, check Suzuki Baleno car page.
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How Much Does It Cost?
The Suzuki Baleno lineup kicks off from $17,740 for the entry-level Baleno GL fitted with a manual gearbox. Opting for the automatic version of the Baleno GL raises the price to $18,740. Finally, the range-topping Baleno GLX with an automatic gearbox is priced at $20,740. Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change, and do not include on-road costs.
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What Features Does the Suzuki Baleno Have?
The entry-level Suzuki Baleno automatic and manual variants come riding on a set of 15-inch steel wheels, and receives cruise control, reversing camera, automatic headlights with a set of daytime running lamps and fog lights, as well as rear privacy glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 9.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and voice commands, which is paired with a six-speaker sound system.
Moving to the range-topping Baleno GLX adds a set of 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as LED headlights, climate control, keyless entry and start, upgraded disc brakes, chrome door handles, steering adjustment and indicator lights that are incorporated into the side mirrors.
A metallic paint finish can be optioned to the Baleno for an added cost of $500
15-inch steel wheels
Daytime running lamps
Rear privacy glass
Leather steering wheel
Six speaker sound system
9.0-inch infotainment system
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and voice commands
16-inch alloy wheels (Baleno GLX)
Climate control (Baleno GLX)
LED headlights (Baleno GLX)
Upgraded disc brakes (Baleno GLX)
Chrome-finished door handles (Baleno GLX)
Keyless entry and start (Baleno GLX)
Adjustable steering wheel (Baleno GLX)
Indicators incorporated into the side mirrors (Baleno GLX)
Suzuki Baleno Colours
|Stargaze Blue||Fire Red|
|Arctic White||Granite Gray|
Is it Comfortable to Drive?
Compact city cars like the Suzuki Baleno are a great and timely reminder that if you’re leading a certain lifestyle, all of your needs can be met with a small, surprisingly practical and affordable package. While the Baleno might not have a significant amount of power under the bonnet, thanks to its lightweight construction and simple platform, it remains perfectly suited to the urban jungle where it absolutely excels as a commuter and urban runaround.
At the front, you’ll find a small 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 68kW/130Nm of torque, which is paired with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic that drives the front wheels. While the recipe is fairly simple, the Baleno feels perky and agile on city streets, while giving the driver enough feedback and confidence in the user-friendly platform. On a daily drive, the little engine works overtime as you pick up speed off the line, but once you’re up to speed, the Baleno feels perfectly suited to city streets and tight surrounds that you’ll find on your daily drive.
Suzuki has designed the Baleno with a featherweight steering design that makes the process of low-speed turns and manoeuvring into tight car spaces a simple, effortless task. As a result, there are truly only a few cars on the road that are as simple and user-friendly to drive as the Baleno, which remain the major selling points of compact urban runarounds. Better still, the simplicity on offer in the Baleno means the driver feels more engaged behind the wheel, with enough feedback through the wheel to remain confident as you pick up speed.
In the process of picking up speed, however, you’ll notice that the Baleno can be tossed around pretty considerably on some larger bumps on the road. While it remains perfectly comfortable on the smooth surfaces in the city, a number of medium and larger bumps are transmitted directly into the cabin, which means that driving the Baleno at speed on a rough surface can result in quite the bumpy ride.
In most situations, however, the Baleno remains perhaps the perfect vehicle to pilot around town, offering drivers a straight-forward, user-friendly and perky driving dynamic that makes light work of the urban jungle.
Is it Practical and Spacious?
Designed as a cheap and cheerful urban runaround, the Suzuki Baleno offers a simple front cockpit that retains some welcomed features considering the attractive starting prices. The front of the Baleno’s cabin features a relatively spartan design, with the infotainment screen acting as the major highlight of an otherwise straight-forward dashboard design that does little to stir up excitement.
What the Baleno lacks in style, though, it more than makes up for when it comes to clever interior packaging that adds to the Baleno’s real-world practicality. For the majority of buyers, you won’t feel short-changed when it comes to storage options in the front of the cabin, with a set of door bins either side, two separate storage areas in the transmission tunnel, as well as a folding armrest for added storage.
The same applies to the occupant space and comfort in the front of the Baleno’s cabin, with ample shoulder and head room even for tall drivers, and some simple adjustment in the driving position to get completely comfortable. The low-slung dash and large windscreen offers a great amount of forward visibility, while the compact shape offers a clear view around the car and reduces potential blind spots you might find on a larger vehicle.
Moving to the rear of the cabin, you’ll find a bench seat that can, in theory, accommodate three people, however, shoulder room will no doubt prove an issue if you’re transporting three adults. There is a surprising amount of legroom on offer in the rear of the Baleno’s cabin, however, headroom is an issue for tall rear passengers due to the sloping roofline which can make the rear of the cabin feel cramped. If, however, you’re mainly planning on transporting kids, the Baleno is perfectly suited to your family, and with easily-accessible ISOFIX anchors, child seats, too.
Typically, boot space is merely an afterthought when it comes to super compact city cars. Thankfully, though, Suzuki has clearly paid attention to the Baleno when it comes to real-world practicality, because there’s a huge amount of space in the boot for its size. In total, the Suzuki Baleno has 355L of boot space available, which can expand to 756L with the rear seats folded down, which makes it a genuine performer when it comes to practicality for the segment.
Is it Safe?
The Suzuki Baleno is yet to be tested by ANCAP, however, it was tested by Euro NCAP back in 2016, where it scored 80% for adult occupant protection, 73% for child protection, 65% for pedestrian protection and 25% for safety assistance technologies. Safety features for the Baleno come in the form of six airbags mounted around the cabin. This means that safety is not necessarily the strongest selling-point of the Baleno, particularly when compared to some of its rivals that feature active safety technologies.
Is it Fuel Efficient?
The Suzuki Baleno range is extremely fuel efficient, thanks to its lightweight body construction and frugal, small-capacity four-cylinder engine. The Baleno manual is rated at 5.1L per 100km on a combined cycle, while the automatic variants are rated at 5.4L per 100km, which means the Baleno offers an impressive fuel economy figure that can compete, on paper at least, with a number of three-cylinder engines and even hybrid units.
Our Verdict: Is the Suzuki Baleno Worth it?
The Suzuki Baleno is a perfectly-executed vehicle that serves its purpose with a heap of confidence while offering more practicality than you might expect from a vehicle of this size. As a fit-for-purpose vehicle, there are few cars that offer the sheer user-friendliness on offer in the Baleno, making it perfectly suited to navigating the tight, crowded urban jungle.
Considering just how much equipment is on offer with these attractive price lists, the Baleno is well-deserving of a spot on your shortlist for an affordable city hatch. On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925
Five Specs You Need to Know
Five-year, unlimited KM warranty
Servicing costs are capped for first five services
Fuel economy of 5.1L/100km for manual; 5.4L/100km for automatic
No official ANCAP safety rating
355L of boot space; expands to 756L with rear-seats folded
Perky, fuel-efficient petrol engine
Generous equipment lists
Real-world practicality in the 355L boot
No official ANCAP safety rating
Headroom issues in the rear cabin for tall passengers
Lack of active safety technology
OnlineAuto Rating: 8/10
Suzuki Baleno Competition