By Patrick James on 2016-12-09 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Suzuki Baleno 1.0
SUZUKI'S Baleno newcomer in the the supermini market is something of a surprise package.
First of all it looks bigger than your normal supermini and at 3.99 metres is longer than its stablemate, the excellent Swift.
Secondly it is practical, economical and is packed with standard kit. Thirdly, and not unexpectedly really, it is fun to drive.
While it may not be as sharp looking as the Swift, it is by no means a bland looking motor, featuring what the firm calls it 'Liquid Flow' shape and it comes with some cutting edge technology.
This model featured the recently added one-litre Boosterjet engine, a three cylinder turbocharged unit that delivers plenty of power, around 110bhp, equivalent to a 1.8-litre, with excellent economy and low carbon emissions, 105g/km for manual transmission and claimed economy of 62.7mpg. A 1.2 is also available.
The Baleno also sits on a lighter, stronger platform, weighing just 935kg, which improves fuel efficient and sharpens up the handling.
In true Suzuki fashion, it is relatively cheap to buy and is packed with standard kit, including, and this is a big bonus, satellite navigation across the range.
The styling is not dramatic, but it does have a slippery, streamlined look, has neat lights and grille and has standard alloy wheels.
In addition the firm says the Baleno is the most aerodynamic car that Suzuki has ever produced with a drag coefficient of just 0.299.
It certainly attracted attention, possibly because of the Suzuki badge on what looks like a car from a class above.
The interior is much the same, more functional than dramatic. The instrument panel has curving lines and silver accents together with reddish-amber illuminations which is clear and legible while controls are logically placed and easy to use.
It also features a multi-purpose steering wheel, while the the centrally mounted screen provides information on major functions in the car including the sat nav.
The rest of the interior features hard wearing plastic finish and firm, but comfortable seats. Not luxurious by any means, but hard wearing and practical and ideal for a young family.
Head and legroom is good and the boot offers a decent 320 litres of luggage space with the rear seat in its upright position.
Capacity with the rear seats folded is 756 litres and 1,085 litres is available if fully loaded to the roof.
On the road, the car feels more lively than official figures suggest. The 109bhp unit propels it from 0-60mph in what seems a pedestrian 11.4 seconds, but it feels quicker, particularly with the sporty thrum from the three pot engine.
I did find myself looking for the non-existent sixth gear, particularly on the motorway, but it is not so noticeable on urban roads, although this does detract from the refinement of the car, and there is some wind and tyre noise.
But it is light and feels composed and agile, particularly when cornering.
The kit is comprehensive, with six airbags fitted as standard on all models, together with Bluetooth and air conditioning, electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, DAB Radio with USB and rear privacy glass,
The range topper tested here adds, radar brake support which applies the brakes when you get too close to the vehicle in front, and adaptive cruise control automatic climate control, rear electric windows, 4.2 inch central colour trip display and LED rear lights.
Prices start at 12,999 for the SZ-T 1.0-litre Boosterjet manual up to £15,349 for the SZ5 automatic.
Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5
Mechanical: 109bhp, 998cc, 3cyl 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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