Review: Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019)
Excellent value. Good level of standard equipment. 1.0-litre petrol engine is perky and responsive. Low running costs. 6-speed automatic best.
Not as good to drive as a Swift. Hard plastics inside. Long throw 5-speed manual gearlever. Dropped from UK range in August 2019.
Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019): At A Glance
- New prices start from £12,993, brokers can source from £9,351
- Contract hire deals from £183.94 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 11–14
- On average it achieves 100% of the official MPG figure
The Suzuki Baleno might not be the most exciting car on sale, nor is it particularly luxurious, but if you’re looking for good value above all else it’s a great choice. Affordable prices, a generous level of standard equipment, plenty of cabin space and low running costs make the Baleno a compelling choice for thrifty buyers.
There are just two engine choices, both petrol. The standard engine is a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder producing 111PS and it’s very flexible and easy to drive, thanks to a reasonable peak torque output of 170Nm from 2000rpm. Official economy is 62.7mpg, while emissions are 105g/km. This engine is also available with an impressive automatic transmission.
The second choice is a 1.2-litre petrol with a very simple hybrid system, designed to assist when pulling away. With 90PS and 120Nm of torque it lacks the eagerness of the 1.0-litre, but it has emissions of 94g/km, so qualifies for free annual VED (at pre-2017 rates) and is officially capable of 70.6mpg.
Inside, the Baleno isn’t exactly plush or luxurious, but the controls are simple to operate and there’s plenty of space, both in the front and back row. Even taller occupants will be comfortable in the back seats, which are easy to access and offer ample head and legroom. The boot is a good size at 320 litres, expandable to 1085 litres by folding the rear seats.
All models come with a touchscreen system, satellite navigation, air conditioning, auto lights, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and 16-inch alloy wheels – so buyers won’t be left wanting for much. There is a higher trim level too, which has autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and climate control among the extra gear.
Because of the generous level of standard equipment, the Suzuki Baleno is predicted to have strong used values. The benefit of this to new buyers is affordable finance – from launch the Baleno is available on PCP with 5.9% APR for £199 per month over 49 months with no deposit, thanks to a £1000 deposit contribution from Suzuki.
The nearest rival for the Baleno in terms of size, space and price is the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, but it doesn’t have the same amount of standard equipment and it costs more – though it is available with diesel power. However, if you want a petrol-powered family-friendly hatchback the Suzuki Baleno makes a lot of sense for budget-conscious buyers.
What does a Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) cost?
Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of three stars
The Baleno is priced to compete with small hatchbacks like the Skoda Fabia or Vauxhall Corsa, but it’s more practical than most. There is plenty of room in the back row for two – or three at a push – thanks to ample leg and head room. The boot is a good size too at 320 litres, though there is a lip to lift items over when loading.
Boot space can be expanded to a maximum of 1085 litres by folding the rear seat backs down, but these don’t fold completely flat like they do in a Honda Jazz or Nissan Note. The Jazz is better made too – the upholstery and plastics used in the Baleno, while hard-wearing, are a little on the low-rent side. The silver-painted plastic around the air conditioning controls is a good example.
On the plus side, comfort is good up front with plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat. The instruments are neat and clear and, in SZ5 models, there is a colour multi-function trip display between the dials. Lower SZ-T cars don’t get this – but it’s very hard to complain about the level of standard equipment Suzuki supplies.
Air conditioning is standard, as is a large touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone connectivity and even navigation. Auto lights, electric windows and alloy wheels are also standard. Moving up to the SZ5 trim adds adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, keyless entry and start, plus a few styling extras – but most buyers will be happy with SZ-T.
The touchscreen system is straightforward enough, although it has a few counter-intuitive menus and screens – pairing a phone, for example, could be easier. None of this is likely to be a problem in the long-run of course and the usefulness of the system, especially the standard-fit navigation, far outweighs any of its issues.
SZ-T comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, automatic lights, tinted rear glass, electric front windows, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, touchscreen system with smartphone link, USB/AUX inputs, DAB radio, navigation and Bluetooth.
SZ5 adds automatic air conditioning, chrome exterior details, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, electric rear windows, LCD trip computer and autonomous emergency braking.
Child seats that fit a Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) like to drive?
The Suzuki Baleno is available with two engine choices – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder BoosterJet petrol with 111PS and a 1.2-litre SHVS hybrid with 90PS. The former is probably the best choice for most buyers, since it’s a peppy, versatile little engine with low running costs. It’s available with either a five-speed manual or a six-speed auto.
The 1.2-litre SHVS and is manual only. It uses a very simple hybrid system with an integrated starter generator to more efficiently start the engine and assist with acceleration, plus it recaptures energy when decelerating. The result is emissions of below 100g/km. However, the lack of a turbocharger means it’s less relaxed and flexible on the road than the 1.0-litre BoosterJet.
Officially the 1.2-litre SHVS is capable of 70.6mpg, while the 1.0-litre BoosterJet manages 62.7mpg. In reality they’re likely to provide very similar economy of between 55 and 60mpg, depending on the type of driving. Since the 1.0-litre BoosterJet is still affordable to tax at pre-2017 rates, falling into VED band B, it’s the engine we’d recommend.
On the road it’s reasonably quiet at low engine speeds and produces plenty of low-down torque, so for getting around town or overtaking its very capable. At motorway speeds it remains calm and smooth, but the manual car only has five gears – a sixth speed would make things even more relaxed on a long drive.
Fortunately, if you tend to drive on the motorway the optional six-speed auto has that extra gear, making things more serene when cruising at speed. It shifts smoothly, but drivers can, if need be, change gears manually using responsive steering wheel-mounted paddles. The auto is slightly less efficient than the manual.
On the road the Suzuki Baleno is unremarkable. The handling is neat enough, but the light steering and fairly long throw manual gear change make it far less enjoyable to drive on a twisting country road than the smaller Swift. However, if fun dynamics are less important to you than ease of use you’ll have no problem with the Baleno at all – it’s effortlessly easy.
The suspension copes well for the most part, providing a reasonable degree of ride comfort without too much roll or noise - but at high speeds the Baleno gets quite jiggly on poor roads with ripples, undulations and potholes unsettling it. There are no such problems at low speed around town though, where the Baleno is calm and relaxed, including over speed bumps.
|1.0 Boosterjet||51–56 mpg||11.0–11.4 s||105–115 g/km|
|1.2 Dualjet||60 mpg||12.3 s||98 g/km|
|1.2 Dualjet SHVS||71 mpg||-||94 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
Are servicing plans a good investment?
What Cars Are Similar To The Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019)?
Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
- 5 star 25%
- 4 star 50%
- 3 star
- 2 star 25%
- 1 star