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Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX: Attainable and ambitious

By Ghaith Madadha - Jul 29,2019 - Last updated at Jul 29,2019

Photo courtesy of Suzuki

A reasonably priced, economic and compact hatchback that nonetheless looks and feels contemporary, the Suzuki Baleno is the sort of car Jordanian drivers ought to consider in the face of economic squeeze, high fuel prices and ever worse traffic congestion.

Built by the Japanese automaker’s Indian operation, the Baleno is slightly bigger, yet, lower priced than the brand’s much acclaimed Swift model. Designed and engineered with good value in mind, the Baleno is, however, not an austere car, like Suzuki’s much smaller and very affordable entry-level Alto.

 

Contemporary character

 

A step up from the Suzuki’s Alto and slightly bigger Celerio models where design clearly follows function, the Baleno places greater emphasis on contemporary aesthetic, and is pitched to closer to and as a somewhat of a more attainable alternative to small European hatchbacks like the excellent Peugeot 208 and outgoing Ford Fiesta.

Modern in appearance, the Baleno has a higher waistline, smaller glasshouse, somewhat sloping roofline and more pronounced body bulges, ridges and character lines to reflect more current trends than the upright Alto and Celerio. 

With smooth and curvy surfacing, athletic stance and diamond-like headlights set far apart and framing a V-like grille that trails off into bonnet ridges towards the A-pillar base, the Baleno’s design has hints of the stylish Alfa Romeo MiTo about it.

Behind its sharp grille-mounted “S” emblem, the driven Baleno GLX is powered by and transverse 16-valve 1.4-litre 4-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Featuring intake side variable valve timing, the Baleno develops 91BHP at 6,000rpm and 96lb/ft torque at 4,000rpm.

 

Eager and efficient

 

A responsive and progressive naturally-aspirated engine, the Baleno’s 1.4 is eager to be wrung hard to its rev limit and signals its willing approval as its not unpleasant thrum hardens to an ever softly distant yet raspy snarl.

With a favourable power-to-weight ratio given its low 935kg mass, the Baleno feels light on its feet and picks up speed at a good pace in town driving, with 0-100km/h dispatched in a respectable 11.6-seconds, and can attain 170km/h. Meanwhile, fuel efficiency is frugal at an estimated 5l/100km, combined.

As flexible necessary in mid-range delivery, the Baleno does its best work at high revs, which is just as well, given that with only four speeds, one does tend to rev hard to keep it spinning in its top-end sweet spot.

As smooth and quick shifting as a small city car needs, the fact of the matter is that a small, light and nimble hatchback like this would be much better served with a 5-speed manual gearbox to better exploit its buzzy and eager engine.

 

Mature manners

 

With a manual, the Baleno would be lighter, faster, more economical, cheaper and even more fun to drive. That said, the auto version proved to be an agile, responsive and entertaining car with quick, light, eager, tidy and grippy turn-in, and nimble and well controlled through corners and sudden direction changes.

With all the fun hallmarks of a sweet driving light car that is a Suzuki signature, the Baleno rode with more grounded and more refined manner than its light weight and small size would suggest.

With a low seating position, high waistline and a more refined and modern feel, the Baleno felt like a distinctly more mature car than its Celerio sister during back-to-back test drives.

 

Hunkered ambiance

 

Comfortable, well-insulated, forgiving and settled for its class, the Baleno rides somewhat like a larger car and features generous front headroom and minimum 355-litre luggage volume, which expands to 1,085-litres. Rear legroom is good for its size but rear headroom isn’t as generous as the boxier Celerio.

Hunkered rather than airy inside, the Baleno’s stylishly modern cabin styling, dark tones, black fabric upholstery and metallic trim meanwhile have a classier, if slightly conservative, ambiance than expected, while plus points include a chunky tilt and reach adjustable steering. 

Driven in GLX trim level, the Baleno comes well-equipped for its JD15,000 price point and includes 3-point seatbelts and headrest for all five passengers, good rear door swing angle, and split-folding rear seats and two child seat latch points, but no rear armrest.

Equipped with front, side and curtain airbags, the Baleno GLX’ safety suite includes ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. Additionally, it features electric windows, mirrors and remote central locking, automatic A/C and a 4-speaker MP3, Bluetooth and CD sound system.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 1.4-litre, transverse 4-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 73 x 82mm

Compression ratio: 11:1

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, multi-point injection

Gearbox: 4-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive

Gear ratios: 1st 2.875; 2nd 1.568; 3rd 1.0; 4th 0.697

Reverse/final drive: 2.3/4.375

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 91 (92) [68] @6,000rpm

Specific power: 66.3BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 97.3BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 96 (130) @4,000rpm

Specific torque: 94.7Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 139Nm/tonne

0-100km/h: 11.6-seconds

Top speed: 170km/h

Fuel consumption, combined: 5-litres/100km (estimate)

Fuel capacity: 37-litres

Length: 3,995mm

Width: 1,745mm

Height: 1,470mm

Wheelbase: 2,520mm

Tread, F/R: 1,420/1,410mm

Tread: 1,520mm

Ground clearance: 120mm

Kerb weight: 935kg

Gross vehicle weight: 1,405kg

Doors/seats: 4/5

Luggage volume, min/max: 355-/1,085-litres

Steering: Power-assisted rack & pinion

Turning circle: 9.8-metres

Suspension: MacPherson struts/torsion beam

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs/drums

Tyres: 185/55R16

Price, JD15,000 (on the road, excluding insurance)

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