Baleno 1.2 SHVS SZ5
respected for its stylish
small cars, Suzuki has just brought
out another its all-new compact
global-hatchback, the Baleno, that
sells in over 100 countries including
Japan and is here in the UK now...
INTERESTINGLY, POWER CAN BE from either a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged
engine or Suzuki's first Smart Hybrid (SHVS) which combines a four-cylinder
1.2-litre petrol engine with the latest 'mild hybrid' and Dualjet technology
to achieve class-leading CO2 emissions of just 94g/km.
While that's good news for our put-upon Blue Planet and will also reduce your
annual road tax bill, more welcome still is the mix of economy and performance
that accompanies the SHVS's green-hued CO2 levels, starting with an impressive
average real-world fuel consumption of 60.7mpg (officially 70.6mpg in the Combined
Cycle), a top speed of 111mph and 0-62mph acceleration in 12.3 seconds.
a smidgen under four metres from nose to tail, the Baleno offers more room than
Suzuki's already very popular Swift, with extra interior space, particularly
in its rear cabin, plus superior room for luggage and load-lugging. For those
Suzuki fans wanting even more space, they can easily step up a size to a Vitara
under four metres
from nose to tail, the
Baleno offers more room
than Suzukis already
very popular Swift,
with extra interior space,
particularly in its rear
cabin, plus superior room
for luggage and
But first you're probably asking 'What's a 'mild hybrid'?' You'll also be wondering
if it's complicated, or if you need to 'plug it in' somewhere to keep it going.
All legitimate questions; and all answered easily you need do nothing
more than what you'd do driving any conventional petrol-engined car.
Basically the Baleno SHVS's 'mild hybrid' bit is a compact and lightweight (it
adds just 6.2kg to the Baleno's overall weight) system that incorporates an
Integrated Starter Generator which assists the engine during pull-away and acceleration.
The SHVS system only uses the Baleno's conventional engine starter motor when
first starting from cold; at all other times it uses the ISG unit for smooth
and quiet engine restarts.
The ISG functions as both a starter motor and generator, efficiently generating
electricity whenever the brake pedal is depressed (and storing it in a compact
lithium-ion battery located under the front passenger seat) as well as recharging
the conventional 12-volt battery.
Also helping the SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) to reduce fuel consumption
is an engine stop-start system which stops the engine for longer periods than
other such systems by cutting power at speeds of up to 10mph (many such systems
wait until the car comes to a complete stop) whenever the driver's foot is removed
from the clutch pedal and the gearbox is in neutral. No delays though when you
need to get going again as it restarts the engine the instant the clutch pedal
Looks-wise, the Baleno's nose and bold, fist-sized 'S' badge leaves you in no
doubt that this is a Suzuki; projector headlamps cut into the front wings and
bonnet bracket the swoopy main grille, which combined with the wide stance creates
a nicely sporting front-end. Once past the strongly-defined wheelarches, chromed
beltlines rise up to meet the large LED rear light units that book-end a neat
'sports touring'-styled tailgate.
the clever tech aside, what matters more for most owners will be the Baleno's
cabin. Swing open the driver's door (no key required courtesy of a 'smart' entry
and start system) and you'll discover a welcoming, nattily laid-out cabin that's
surprisingly generous on personal space if you're a front passenger you'll
definitely appreciate just how much you can stretch out without being nagged
to move your seat forward by somebody seated behind you.
rear cabin is a big
because it is so big.
Rear passengers can
stretch their legs out full
length, with generous
knee room when
Passengers will enjoy
anywhere in a Baleno...
The agreeable ambiance is made better by deep side windows that keep the cabin
light and airy. Echoing
the front grille treatment, the deep fascia dips down to the main centre tunnel
In line with the main instrument cluster and sited top-dead-centre of the dash
is a large seven-inch touchscreen display that enables intuitive operation of
the audio system, 3D navigation and smartphone it can even be operated
while wearing gloves!
Immediately beneath this is the climate control panel (and Yes, it has a pollen
filter); it's a foolproof set-up with minimal switchgear and helps ensure the
Baleno is one of those cars that you can, even on first acquaintance, just get
in and drive.
The driver's computer is a 4.2-inch high-definition colour LCD display that's
flanked to the left by the rev-counter and to the right by the speedo; it shows
a range of trip data (the all-important range and average mpg, etc) and includes
a compass along with various supporting graphic performance-oriented information.
Conveniently, the voice button on the steering wheel lets you operate not just
the phone but the SatNav, media and audio too.
Upholstered in a fabric that will be agreeable in the summer and warming in
the winter, the seats are well-proportioned, nicely bolstered and provide decent
support. Both have height-adjustable belts while the driver gets a height-adjustable
seat-base and plenty of headroom plus a multifunction three-spoke wheel wrapped
in smooth satin black leather that adjusts for both tilt and reach and contributes
to the first-rate driving position.
The engine Start-Stop button is sited to the right of the wheel rim on the fascia,
and the blue-lit faces of the main dials in the instrument cluster are both
easy on the eyes and add some sparkle to the black-themed cabin. A trad 'pull
up' handbrake will please plenty of Baleno drivers; more so the slick-changing
gearlever and the well-sited left foot rest for when 'in the cruise'.
will the driver or passengers go short of places to tuck all their personal
'stuff' aboard the Baleno thanks to bottle-holding door pockets, plenty of open
trays and cupholders and a bin under the armrest between the front seats.
enough poke to ensure
unstressed cruising and
enough pick-up in the
higher gears to save
At town and country
speeds the 1.2-litre units
always agreeably nippy,
and easy to keep in the
zone thanks to a clean-
Damped grab handles are there if needed although most passengers will no doubt
use them not for aiding their exit or entry but for strap-hanging whilst travelling
something that seems to be on the increase.
For a small car the Baleno is big on equipment. In addition to the items already
mentioned, SZ5 models also have electric door mirrors (heated, too) and windows
(with an auto one-shot feature for the driver), DAB radio, rearview parking
camera, automatic climate control, green tinted windows plus privacy glass from
the B-pillars back, integrated Bluetooth, the obligatory USB and Aux connectors,
smartphone linkage using MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay (Apple CarPlay is the
smarter and safer way to use an iPhone in the Baleno apart from making
calls it also facilitates receiving directions optimised for traffic conditions,
listening to music, accessing Email, text messages and more), power steering,
auto lights, LED daytime running lights, tailgate spoiler, alloy wheels, etc.
Baleno also gets plenty of active and passive safety equipment: six airbags,
an Electronic Stability Programme, tyre pressure monitoring, Adaptive Cruise
Control with a speed limiter, and Radar Brake Support.
When driving above 3mph the Radar Brake Support system alerts the driver to
any possible chance of a collision with the vehicle ahead. Ignore the audible
and visual warnings and, if a collision is unavoidable, it applies the brakes
automatically. The warning can easily be set for either Far or Near distances
and the milliwave radar technology also enables it to work at high speeds, in
darkness, and in rain or other bad weather. Another pair of 'eyes' 24/7 is always
The rear cabin is a big surprise… precisely because it's so big. Getting in
and out is easy and back-seat passengers sit about six inches higher than those
in front on a comfy bench-base while relaxing back against equally comfy backrests.
Along with decent headroom there's plenty of foot room and rear passengers can
stretch their legs out full length, with generous knee room when sitting normally.
The minimal floor tunnel means three adults sitting side-by-side is politely
doable. Accommodating rear outer armrests plus large bottle-holding door pockets
all add to the benefits of being chauffeured anywhere in a Baleno.
regular-shaped boot is also more than averagely obliging, swallowing 320 litres
of luggage or shopping. But it doesn't stop there fold down the rear
seatbacks and you'll create a 756-litre loadbay. For more serious load-lugging
you can load all the way to the roof, which stretches the cargo capacity to
an impressive and versatile 1,085 litres.
is predictable and
its an easy car to
handle whether youre
just pootling en famille or
getting to the church
The Baleno does
everything you need to
a standard youll be
happy with in the riding,
handling, steering and
Even better, the boot features a two-tier arrangement: with the floor set to
its higher setting and the seatbacks folded flat the resulting loadbay floor
is seamless with just a short drop down over the mid-thigh-height rear load
sill; alternately, with the floor at its lowest, there's useful extra inches
available for items carried in the boot.
But there's even more versatility: the boot floor panel folds in two and stacks
at the end of the boot area to divide the loadbay widthways. And if you wish
to use the lower section for out-of-sight storage while retaining a full standard
boot above, the rearmost section of the boot floor is effectively a full-width
lid that lifts for access. Beneath all that is a tyre repair kit. Another convenience
'plus' the tailgate also has keyless 'touch' locking/unlocking, just
like both front doors.
A new-generation weight-saving platform underpins the Baleno, helping it achieve
both increased rigidity and improve overall crash safety alongside a very low
kerb weight (935kg for the 1.2 SHVS), which also makes it the lightest hatchback
amongst its competitors.
of which also helps the handling dynamics: grip is predictable and it's an easy
car to handle whether you're just pootling en famille or getting to the church
on time. All you really need to know is that the Baleno does everything you
need to a standard you'll be happy with in the riding, handling, steering and
Plus the petrol engine's bhp:torque partnership (88bhp backed up by 88lb ft)
is more than enough for its weight to ensure unstressed cruising and enough
pick-up in the higher gears to save on downchanges. At town and country speeds
the 1.2-litre unit's always agreeably nippy and easy to keep 'in the zone' thanks
to a clean-changing, five-speed gearbox.
Go for the 'mild hybrid'-enhanced Baleno hatchback and you'll get more than
a mild improvement over other superminis, particularly in the space stakes.
Add in a responsive engine, a genuine 60mpg, a high-spec kit-list plus a keen
price and you'll be glad you signed on the Suzuki dotted line. ~ MotorBar
Suzuki Baleno 1.2 SHVS SZ5
Maximum speed: 111mph | 0-62mph: 12.3 seconds | Test Average: 60.7mpg
Power: 88bhp | Torque: 88lb ft | CO2: 94g/km