THE supermini class has a new addition from Suzuki and it's a real cracker with lots of on-board technology, smart styling and a fabulous little three cylinder 1.0-litre engine that's simply bursting with energy.
The Baleno fits neatly into the Suzuki line-up between the Swift and Vitara models and it is the perfect gap-filler with prices starting from £12,999 and rising to £13,999.
There are two trim levels to select from called SZ-T and SZ5, and as well as the punchy 1.0-litre petrol engine, buyers can also opt for a 1.2 SHVS hybrid model - it stands for Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki.
But it's the super 1.0 Boosterjet option in range-topping SZ5 that is expected to account for the majority of sales and Suzuki has set a target of 3,500 units during the first 12 months.
The five-door Baleno features Suzuki's new ‘Liquid Flow' design theme to help create a stylish appearance from any approach and stand-out features include 16-inch alloys, a black grille housing the Suzuki badging, a rear spoiler, chrome tailgate trim, LED daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors and front fog lights.
Move inside and it's difficult not to be impressed with the level of technology on offer. The likes of sat nav with Apple CarPlay are standard across the range as is Bluetooth connectivity, a nice sound system, a clear infotainment screen, a three-spoke leather covered steering wheel, smart blue instrument dials and plenty more besides.
The layout is beautifully simple and clutter-free yet for the very reasonable price-tag the car is fitted with plenty of kit.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked is the generous legroom in the rear and overall practicality of the car.
Many superminis look compact on the outside and then fail to deliver when it comes to interior space. That's certainly not the case with the Baleno - a couple of six footers could sit comfortably in the back without moaning about legroom after a couple of minutes.
We tried out the three-pot, 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5 on the roads around Belfast and despite its small size, the engine is a true delight.
The car, priced at £13,999, can sprint from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and tops out at 124mph. It can deliver combined fuel economy of 62.7mpg with carbon emissions of 105g/km.
It was fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox (an automatic option is available) and it was fun, fun, fun all the way.
The spritely powertrain delivered plenty of zip, and acceleration was lively through the gears with ample power on tap at all times. Admittedly there was a little engine whine and it seemed a tad revvy when pushed really hard, but it proved a fizzy little engine with bundles of character.
The road-holding is assured and comfort levels are good for all occupants. In addition, the Baleno offers a 320-litre boot capacity - a limit that can easily be increased to 756 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere there is a good-sized glovebox, central bin, door pockets and a convenient tray just in front of a couple of cup holders.
We also took a shorter run-out in the hybrid model which is only expected to account for about 15 per cent of sales.
Suzuki describes the system as a mild hybrid and it really is. It doesn't have the silent start-up that more conventional hybrids feature, but it does, according to Suzuki - offer combined economy up to 70.6mpg with carbon emissions of 94g/km.
The 1.2 SHVS SZ5 model is priced at £13,499 and has a 0-62mph sprint time of 12.3 seconds with a maximum speed of 111mph.
It was difficult to determine any major differences between the two models and the smaller 1.0-litre variant seemed to deliver more responsive and edgy performance capabilities
All Baleno models are fitted with a comprehensive list of safety specifications such as anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, six airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, radar brake support with brake assist function and plenty more.
All in all, the new Baleno, which is built in India and is on sale from June 1, is a fabulous new arrival.
It enters a fiercely competitive segment with the likes of the Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia already established rivals. However, it looks smart, drives beautifully, is economical to run and is guaranteed to make its mark.