At first glance you could be forgiven for not looking too closely at the Suzuki Baleno 1.0 as rather old fashioned beliefs regarding engine capacity are still bubbling under the surface for a lot of potential purchasers. That type of thinking in 2018 though is a mistake as engine and turbo technology has gradually improved offering power and torque aplenty from a much smaller capacities. Keep digging further and you don’t need to be an archaeologist to discover the hidden treasures just below the surface of this power-plant. A 1.0 Boosterjet engine doesn’t sound like much, especially when you realise that it contains a mere three cylinders but it delivers far more than you have any right to expect. The direct injection turbo engine is an absolute gem, the Cullinan Stone of engines if you will.
110bhp at @ 5500rpm sounds good but as always, relying on numbers alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A largely irrelevant maximum speed of 124mph is more than enough to get along with as is the 0-62mph time of 11.4secs. Whilst a combined mpg of 64.2 doesn’t help the cause of, the soon to be extinct, small diesel engine that we’ve become accustomed to over the last ten years or so.
This is a car that grows on you the more time that you spend with it. Town driving and commuting are simple tasks for the Baleno, its light clutch, sweet five speed gearbox and nicely weighted steering see to that whilst the Suzuki’s economical three cylinder, turbo charged power plant just gets on with the job of delivering you to where you need to be.
Show the Baleno a country road like the stunning A169 Whitby Road, heading out from Pickering in North Yorkshire, with its mix of challenging curves and varying gradients and you’ve a real treat in store. Rather surprisingly, for an engine with only 998cc, this Suzuki offers excitement by the bucketful. Keep the Baleno spinning above 2500rpm and you’re right in the sweet spot for maximum torque of 125lb/ft whilst still allowing room for the engine to stretch it’s legs in the upper reaches of the rev range. Indeed, for such a classy looking family hatchback the turn of speed on offer is a constant surprise as is the throaty sound from the engine as the revs build.
It can not be emphasised enough how perfectly matched the K10C Direct Injection Turbo is to the Baleno as it’s 110bhp is more than enough to deliver an exciting, connected drive and leave you feeling that you’re in charge rather than the car itself. The feel through the steering wheel, combined with supple and controlled suspension allow you to push the Suzuki into the corners, revelling in the feedback on offer. Get the right combination of gear, revs and corner and just enjoy, safe in the knowledge that when you arrive at your destination the Baleno returns to town duties as swiftly as it delivered you in the first place.
We’re all big fans of Suzuki over here at MotorMartin for good reason and the Baleno keeps this tradition going offering, as it does, an intoxicating mixture of practicality and fun that should be pushing you towards your local Suzuki dealership when it’s time to change. Cost? Well the Baleno continues Suzuki’s reputation for competitive pricing arriving on your driveway from only £10,999 (including £2000 customer saving) rising to just £13,499 for the SZ5 (including £2500 customer saving.)
Where will you go?