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Suzuki Baleno review 2020

The Suzuki Baleno is an alternative choice for anyone looking for a low budget, practical and efficient supermini.

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Well equipped
  • Extremely practical
  • Efficient hybrid alternative

Cons

  • Rivals more engaging to drive
  • Poor build quality
  • Lack of diesel
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

The Suzuki Baleno might not be the obvious choice if you’re looking for a fun, practical supermini, but its combination of practicality and low running costs have made it a rival that’s worth considering for anyone looking for a runabout on a budget.

Essentially the Baleno is a direct rival for the likes of the Suzuki Swift, Kia Rio and Dacia Sandero, but because of the spacious cabin it actually comes close to bigger rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon.

It’s a model that was quite short-lived in Britain – first being shown at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, and then being introduced to the UK in June 2016. Though, the model was discontinued on these shores in 2019 as the Japanese carmaker trimmed down its line-up – also removing the Celerio city car in the process. That said, it’s still worth considering as a used car proposition.

Current model

The big news with the outgoing version of the Baleno is the addition of an ‘eco-friendly’ mild-hybrid system. Now it’s not a full hybrid system - which allows it to be driven on electric power alone – instead it has a generator incorporated within the starter motor which assists the car under hard acceleration, making it more efficient.

That means it emits just 94g/km of CO2 and is capable of a mightily impressive claimed fuel economy figure of 70.6mpg. 

Value for money

While you can’t buy a new Baleno anymore, as the focus has shifted more towards the Swift supermini, there are still plenty of used examples out there, and because they’re so well equipped with equipment like air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio, they do represent good value for money.

Also, with running costs so low, you won’t find yourself spending out on fuel or road tax either.

In terms of used values, models are available for less than £6,000, which can still get you a top-spec example from 2016 with around 40,000 miles on the clock. There isn’t a huge amount of difference in value between that and a late 2019 car, which could be had for around £9,000 at the time of writing.

Looks and image

The Baleno isn’t what you’d immediately describe as a quirky supermini, as its styling is very conservative. While there are some nice touches like the headlamps which have a lot in common with the smaller Swift, it’s slightly larger dimensions gives it the appearance of a slightly overweight supermini. Choose an SZ-T or SZ5 model for additional street cred – these coming with alloy wheels.

Space and practicality

Where the Baleno really excels is the space available inside the cabin. Up front even taller driver and front seat passengers will find they won’t be struggling for head or leg room, and that’s taking into consideration larger passengers in the back, who also will find it comfortable. There’s also been a lot of thought about where smaller items can be stored with good usable door pockets and a well-shaped glove box.  

Where the Baleno really shines though is in the boot, which is large in comparison to many of its rivals. With the rear seats in place it has 320 litres, which can be extended to 1,085 litres if you fold down the split 60:40 folding rear seats.

Just to put that into perspective, the Baleno is priced as a direct rival for the likes of the Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa, but its boot offers the space you’d be more likely to find in cars from the class above.

  

Engines

The engine line-up isn’t as comprehensive as some of the leaders in this segment, so choice is fairly limited plus there are no diesels available.

There’s a choice of two petrol versions, a three cylinder 1.0-litre ‘Boosterjet’ with 111bhp or a 1.2-litre petrol with 89bhp which is also available as a mild-hybrid SHVS which will return a claimed fuel economy of around 70mpg – 67mpg for the standard 1.2-litre. The 1.0-litre will return an average around 62.8mpg, but because it is turbocharged it’s more flexible and better suited to everyday driving. This is also available with an automatic gearbox, but if you opt for this, fuel economy will drop to 57.6mpg.

Running costs

As we’ve already mentioned the 1.2-litre mild-hybrid SHVS is the most economical option returning around 70mpg, and because of the low emissions of just 94g/km of CO2 it will cost £130 in road tax. It also makes sense for company car drivers thanks to its low 15 per cent benefit in kind rating.

Things to look out for

All Balenos come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard, which is pretty much the norm in this class, and as you can’t get one new anymore, it’s best to see how long is left on the existing warranty. The only options with longer warranties are cars like the Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio.

Suzuki is also a brand well-known for its cars’ reliability, so there should be little to worry about with this model.

  

Rivals

The Baleno sits in a rather unusual position in the market. It’s more of a direct rival for the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta and Dacia Sandero, but because of its spacious cabin, it offers just as much onboard roominess as cars like the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, but for significantly less money.

Depreciation

It’s safe to say the Baleno doesn’t have the same badge appeal as some of the key rivals in its class. And when you look at some of the cabin materials, they won’t appear to be as durable or hard wearing as we’d like, which will hurt depreciation figures. That said, it will make a good used or pre-registered buy.

Summary

  1. Spacious interior
  2. Conservative styling
  3. SVHS hybrid system
  4. Not as engaging to drive as rivals
  5. Prices start from
  6. Low running costs
  7. Impressive standard equipment
  8. Poor interior build quality
  9. Some safety concerns
  10. Not an obvious choice against rivals, but more practical than some

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