- Great value for money
- Efficient powertrains
- Doesn't look the best
- Lacks refinement in some areas
- Not the most desirable
What's the Suzuki Baleno like?
With keen prices and generous standard equipment, plus very reasonable running costs and a high level of comfort, the Suzuki Baleno makes a very good smaller family hatch.
Suzuki has an excellent record for reliability and the 5-door Baleno is a brilliant car with room for four and a decent boot on top of many other class-leading attributes.
One of two power units available has a government economy figure of no less than 70mpg, which has to be fantastic for a petrol car.
The more powerful of the two engines is Suzuki’s excellent Boosterjet 1.0-litre turbo petrol, which in this guise, produces an excellent 110bhp.
To put that into context, it’s not far off the power of some early 1.6-litre GTI’s, although they were a lot lighter.
It’s good for 56mpg and will accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 10.9 seconds, although it feels quicker
The even more frugal option is a mild-hybrid 1.2-litre petrol with 88bhp, and this is the model that's rated at an excellent 70mpg. Obviously, it’s a bit slower too, reaching the benchmark speed from rest in 11.9 seconds.
Both engines drive the front wheels through a slick changing 5-speed gearbox, and an automatic is available in some models.
Both are also smooth and quiet, but the Boosterjet 1.0-litre is a gem, and beautifully tuneful when revved.
But there’s actually little need to use the revs most of the time, because the turbo means it pulls happily from low speeds even in 5th gear.
The ride is brilliant – even in town at low speeds – and it stays just as good out on the open road, even when the surface is poor.
It takes speed humps and the multi-excavated town roads we all face every day completely in its stride
Despite some roll, it also holds the road really well, with excellent balance even when pushed very hard and good feedback from the decently tactile power steering.
Sharp changes of direction give it no difficulty, and grip is excellent – despite fairly thin tyres to help economy.
This is a smaller car that I could easily live with because it’s a joy to drive in almost every situation
Practicality and Interior
From the outside it seems quite small, but that small footprint hides a Tardis-like interior.
Inside, it may not be particularly plush, but everything you need falls to hand, and the seats are supportive and comfortable.
Taller passengers will be happy in the back, and access is easy through the wide opening doors.
The boot is also a good size, and will expand dramatically with the use of the split-folding back seat.
All models come with excellent equipment including touchscreen infotainment with sat nav, stereo, and a number of car functions.
They also have air conditioning, automatic lights, Bluetooth, USB, traction control and alloy wheels, so if you’re downsizing, you won’t miss out on much.
The SZ-T adds audio remote controls on the steering wheel, fog lights and parking sensors and the top SZ-5 gets autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and climate control among other extra kit.
Find your Suzuki Baleno your way with CarStore
The Baleno is likeable, good to drive, big inside, very comfortable and cheap to run – it’s a real winner. While rivals are more popular and possess better kerb appeal, they'll struggle to match the Suzuki Baleno's value for money proposition.