Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) Review

Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
It’s not an obvious choice, but if you’re prepared to think outside the box, the Suzuki Baleno is a compelling and strangely charming small car.

+Punchy and efficient petrol engines especially the 1.0-litre Boosterjet, excellent value for money – even the top trim is well priced, more spacious and practical than the Suzuki Swift.

-Interior quality is a notch or two below its nearest rivals, inoffensive and drab styling, small petrol tank so you’ll be a regular at the filling station.

Insurance Groups are between 11–14
On average it achieves 99% of the official MPG figure

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.

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.

Ask Honest John

Are fogged up headlamps an MoT failure?

"My 2017 Suzuki Baleno headlamps are fogged up around the outsides but not in the middle - it appears to be between two layers of double glazed plastic? Is this an MoT failure? Is there a fix for this because replacement headlamp units are horrendously expensive?"
The MoT guidance says that water or condensation in your headlights will be a failure if it affects the beam pattern, so as the moisture is around the outside of your headlights it may still pass. This has occurred because the seals around the headlight have failed and allowed moisture to enter, which is then evaporated when the heat of the bulbs is present. The best solution would be to remove the headlights and dry them thoroughly indoors before resealing them. You may be able to purchase a set of rubber seals separately, but failing that you can use a waterproof sealant from an automotive accessory or DIY store.
Answered by David Ross

Why does my air con make a grinding noise when I first turn it on?

"I own a 2019 Suzuki Baleno. If the car has been sitting for a couple of days, the air con makes a grinding sound when it's first turned on. From then on, the air con just makes the usual click sound on start up as the compressor is activated. The air con is used all the time when the car is being used and blows nice and cold. It almost sounds like something needs lubricating. Any thoughts on what it could be? I have the first service coming up so am keen to get it checked. Many thanks in advance."
Reads like a problem with one of the belts or a damaged compressor. Either way, it needs to be inspected your local Suzuki garage ASAP.
Answered by Dan Powell

Is the Suzuki Baleno a good car?

"I'm looking at a Suzuki Baleno 1.0 auto. Is it a good choice?"
The Suzuki Baleno is a great little car. The fuel figures are honest, it's well-equipped as standard and really easy to drive. I ran one for six months and was very impressed:
Answered by Dan Powell

Which small cars offer a lot of boot space?

"I love my Suzuki Baleno but cannot get a new one. What would you recommend in place of an automatic Baleno? The boot space and rearview camera are massive bonuses for me."
If you're after a small car with a big boot, I'd recommend a Skoda Fabia estate or Honda Jazz. Both are very versatile little cars that represent good value for money.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Suzuki Baleno (2016 – 2019) cost?