Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) Review
Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) At A Glance
The Suzuki Baleno is the small car for people who find the Suzuki Swift to be a little too, er… small. Not that you’d notice, because the Baleno is a relatively unknown car in the UK. Launched in 2016, the Baleno bowed out in 2019, not with a bang but a whimper. Rivals include the Skoda Fabia and Honda Jazz, along with the more expensive versions of the Dacia Sandero. Without wishing to damn the Baleno with faint praise, this is a much better car that you might think. Spacious, practical, efficient and surprisingly good to drive.
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This could be one of the best cars you haven’t heard of. Lurking behind the rather sombre shell is a surprisingly charming small car that should have sold in larger numbers. Fortunately for you, there are enough examples of the Suzuki Baleno on the second-hand market to ensure that you don’t miss out on one of the most underrated gems of the past decade.
Are we going too far? Perhaps, but there’s a lot to like about the Suzuki Baleno. Designed to slot into the Suzuki range above the Swift supermini, it offers more space than its more illustrious sibling. Don’t be fooled by the drab styling – this is a fun car to drive and an easy car to live with.
Unlike the Swift, the Baleno boasts a reasonably large boot and enough room in the back for three adults. Try cramming three adults into the back of a Swift and you’ll be greeted with a few curse words and plenty of groaning.
It’s not often we focus on a car’s lightness, not unless we’re reviewing a sports car or a performance saloon.
However, the lightness of the Baleno plays a big part in its appeal, helping the car to get the most out of its small but efficient engines, while making the car feel quite playful when the conditions allow. Some versions tip the scales at 935kg, so the Baleno is a proper featherlight car.
The 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine is a cracker, giving the Baleno a surprising turn of pace to match the car’s agility. It feels quicker than the official figures suggest, but it’s also extremely economical. In reality, the Baleno can match many of its diesel-powered rivals when it comes to fuel economy. It’s just a shame that it features such a small petrol tank. Still, think of the lightness.
There’s also a 1.2-litre Dualjet engine which is available as a mild hybrid. Although it doesn’t offer the ability to travel anywhere using electric power, you might appreciate the small increase in fuel economy. Not that we’d recommend it over the brilliant Boosterjet engine. Did we mention that we rather like it?
Inside, the Baleno is about as exciting as a ready salted crisp, with little opportunity to spice things up. It’s also finished using some materials which some viewers might find upsetting. You won’t buy a Baleno on the strength of its cabin quality.
You might buy one on the strength of its equipment. Even the entry-level SZ3 trim is well-equipped, while the SZ5 is positively lavish. Because the Baleno is so affordable, we’d recommend buying the SZ5, not least because it comes with the kit required for the five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Suzuki’s reputation for reliability also means that the Baleno is unlikely to give you too many sleepless nights. Put the Baleno on your shortlist.