By Mike Torpey on 2016-11-19 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Baleno 1.0
THE name may indicate a blast from the past but Suzuki's new Baleno has a style and quality very much of the present.
On sale since the summer, it's a car sure to eclipse the impact of its mid-90s predecessor of the same name.
Of course when it comes to small cars, few manufacturers can match the Japanese giant's time-honoured expertise.
But on this occasion Suzuki has a trump card up its sleeve in shape of something called Boosterjet.
It made its debut earlier this year in the Vitara S model and is a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine designed to achieve high levels of power and efficiency.
In the Baleno it is a 1.0-litre unit producing 111bhp, acceleration figures of 0-62 in 11.4 seconds, a top speed of 124mph and the potential for a Combined fuel return of 62.7mpg. CO2 emissions are also low at 105g/km.
But the car's appeal extendes much farther than the powertrain as this is a spacious hatchback that drives well, looks stylish and is economical.
In my case the average return over plenty of mixed driving was 52.6 miles per gallon, half decent given that it included a fully-laden student clobber run.
The Baleno is also an uncomplicated car to drive - relaxing, enjoyable and comfortable with light but positive steering, an easyshift five-speed manual gearbox and solid dynamics.
You get excellent interior space - even room for three passengers in rear - and good quality, subtlely patterned cloth seats, a large touchscreen and a deep split-level boot.
Okay, some of the cabin plastics are a bit on the brittle side, otherwise everything seems strong, simple and sensibly laid out, from the push button start to the trip computer read-out.
Baleno prices start at Â£12,999 and while that tab isn't exactly giveaway the amount of standard kit included surpasses that of many rivals.
Every version comes with the likes of six airbags, sat nav, alloy wheels, air conditioning, HID headlights, front electric windows, rear privacy glass, DAB radio and Bluetooth.
Move up from entry level SZ-T grade to SZ5 trim (an extra Â£1,000) and there's a 4.2-inch central colour trip display, LED rear lights, auto climate control, adaptive cruise control and radar brake support.
Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5
Mechanical: 111ps, 998cc turbocharged petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 11.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 62.7
Insurance Group: 11
C02 emissions: 105g/km
Bik rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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