What is it?
The Baleno is a small five-door hatchback that’s about the same size as the Skoda Fabia and the Ford Fiesta. It’s larger than Suzuki’s current offering, the Swift, and will actually be sold alongside that model instead of replacing it.
Suzuki is claiming that the new car will offer strong levels of practicality for the class, and its initial figures appear to back this up. The Baleno’s boot capacity is 355 litres, which is more than 70 litres up on both the Fiesta’s and the Polo’s and 25 litres up on our current Car of the Year, the Fabia.
What engines does it come with?
Two petrol engines will be offered: a 1.2-litre unit with 89bhp and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder motor producing 110bhp.
The 1.2 will also be available as part of a mild hybrid set-up which uses an electric motor to help the Baleno restart after stop-start situations and to pull away from a standstill. There’s no diesel option, incidentally.
The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, but the 1.2 is available with a CVT automatic gearbox and the 1.0 will be offered with a conventional six-speed auto. The hybrid – badged SHVS – is a manual only and it’ll be the cleanest edition at launch, with CO2 emissions of just 93g/km. The regular 1.2 manual will emit 101g/km, while the more potent 1.0-litre motor, badged Boosterjet, emits 103g/km with a manual gearbox.
What’s it like inside?
Suzuki claims the Baleno can cope with five adults in its cabin, although the car’s dipping rear roofline would indicate that head room could be an issue in the back seats.
The dashboard looks neat and uncluttered; Suzuki’s launch images show a centrally mounted 7.0in touchscreen, but this will almost certainly be optional on all but the highest-end editions.
The LCD display between the rev-counter and speedometer is likely to be standard across the range, though. That larger-screened infotainment system will offer Apple CarPlay connectivity for iPhone users, Suzuki has revealed.
In the UK, the Baleno will be offered in two trim levels. Entry-level SZT models receive 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, satellite navigation, DAB radio with Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. The more expensive SZ5 models, meanwhile, get adaptive cruise control, a 4.2in driver's information display and climate control.
How much does it cost?
Prices for the Suzuki Baleno start at £12,999 for the most basic version and rise to £15,349 for the most expensive models. That entry-level price makes the new Baleno more expensive than the Ford Fiesta, which starts from £10,345, and the Volkswagen Polo, which costs from £11,525.
How good are its rivals?
The Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo are both well regarded family hatchbacks, and the Fiesta is one of the most popular cars in the UK. Its high starting price means the Baleno is already at a disadvantage here, but we've been impressed with our brief first drive.
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