Low running costs from the intriguing pair of petrol engines on offer will also be a draw, one of these even including mild hybrid technology. It’s all been very thoroughly thought through.
Thanks to an all-new ‘TECT’ platform that makes copious use of ultra high tensile steel, the Baleno has a kerb weight that can be as little as 950kgs and that helps the performance of the energetic pair of little petrol engines. The 1. 0-litre three cylinder Boosterjet motor will be the most popular choice, an 111PS unit offered with either manual or automatic transmission and capable of a surprising turn of speed, provide you’re not driving to maximise frugality. If you are, then this variant is supposed to be able to return 62. 8mpg on the combined cycle and 105g/km.
The alternative powerplant is a four cylinder 90PS 1. 2-litre Dualjet unit that uses ‘SHVS’ smart hybrid technology, based around the use of an ‘Integrated Starter Generator’ powered by a tiny 0. 2 kWh lithium-ion battery that sits under the driver’s seat. This set-up harvests kinetic energy when you brake and converts it into electrical energy that can power the engine stop-start system and give you a small energy boost as you accelerate. This set-up’s priority though is to promote efficiency, which is why this variant improves the quoted running cost figures to 70. 6mpg and 94g/km. The Baleno isn’t especially rewarding to drive through the bends at speed, but of more interest to likely drivers will be the way that it’s so easy and manoeuvrable to nip around town in.
Aesthetically, the Baleno’s role in the Suzuki line-up is to look conservatively stylish. That’s something you notice most in the profile of the five-door design, its rounded roofline given a ‘floating’ effect by these blacked-out pillars.
From the front, you’d be unlikely to guess the brand behind this car were it not for the bold badge on the sweepingly-styled front grille, the lower frame of which is emphasised by a chrome strip that rises up to meet HID projector headlights incorporating smart LED daytime running lamps.
Of course, as usual, what’s more important is the stuff you can’t see, namely the model’s completely new platform, designed around what Suzuki calls ‘Total Effective Control Technology’. This uses lots of high strength steel to make the structure very strong but also low in weight, which is the main reason why the Baleno is so relatively light by class standards.
You feel that light weight when you slam the driver’s door shut, which isn’t ideal, but otherwise, by supermini standards, the cabin feels quite nice, providing you’re not expecting acres of slush-moulded soft-touch plastic. Suzuki doesn’t really go in for that kind of finishing. We approve of the brand’s decision to instead spend the development budget on the 7-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, standard on all Balenos and the kind of thing that other superminis either don’t offer or restrict to their priciest derivatives.
It’s also worth mentioning how airy and spacious the cabin feels by supermini standards, but you don’t really appreciate that fully until you take a seat in the rear.
Essentially, the room provided is pretty much as large as you’d find in a Focus-sized hatch from the next class up. This really is where the Baleno shines in comparison not only to its Swift sister model but also when you pitch it up against almost every other car in the segment.
Out back, the space on offer for luggage is just as impressive as the room provided for rear seat folk. It’s a pity that you have to lug your items over quite a high loading lip to get them in, but once you’ve done that, there’s a usefully-sized 320-litre boot.
One writer has described this as ‘the small Suzuki for grown-ups’ and perhaps there’s something in that.
Even if it’s not for you, there’s plenty to like about this car, given that it frees up its Swift stablemate to be exciting and style-focused. If though, you’re buying in this segment and think excitement and style to be of marginal importance in a car of this kind, we’d urge you to put a Baleno on your shortlist. In many ways, it’s a rather clever choice.