Launched during for the 2017 model year, the Suzuki Baleno GLX is Taiwan Suzuki’s foray compact sized car territory aside from the second generation SX4, which is now categorized as a compact. The Baleno is the first new model of a onslaught of new models to be introduced with the Ignis and new generation Swift joining later that year. Suzuki is looking to regain the success and popularity of the Swift and Solio (Wagon R) models of yester-years. The Baleno in Taiwan is categorized as a compact, not a subcompact like the Suzuki Swift, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, or Mazda2. Yet, the compact car arena is already overcrowded and many models get easily overlooked by the consumer. Does the Suzuki Baleno have what it takes to compete with the heavy-weights that dominate the compact hatchback segment?
Styling and specs:
Styling isn’t going to win any points for the Baleno, as the exterior isn’t overly too exciting to look at, especially when comparing this vehicle to the Toyota Corolla hatchback (Auris). Though the grille is sculpted to give it a more sportier look and the LED daytime running lights helps round out the front’s styling. The rear of the car isn’t much of a looker with the tailgate feeling empty on design in my opinion.
The interior does has a very welcoming feel and the car is packed with the latest technology. The infotainment system is easy to use and with USB connectivity you’ll be able to stay connected with all that you want. However the quality of material for the dashboard, plastic trims, and door handles felt rather subpar. Aside from that though, the seats are quite comfortable and the rear seats are roomy enough for two adults. The Baleno does not make the passengers feel claustrophobic at all. Storage abounds with ample cabin storage including cup holders, door pockets, to bottle holders. Rear cargo space is a spacious 355L, but with the rear seats folded down its becomes an even more generous 756L of cargo space, which makes it up to par with the locally built Mitsubishi Colt Plus.
The blue hue on the instrumentation gives the Baleno a more sportier look. A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to see boost, engine torque, and G-Force gauges between the tachometer and speedometer, a nice little touch bringing a bit of excitement behind the wheel.
The specs for the Suzuki Baleno are the following:
Wheelbase 2,520 mm (99 in)
Length 3,995 mm (157.3 in)
Width 1,745 mm (68.7 in)
Height 1,460–1,470 mm (57.5–57.9 in)
However, the 1.0L BoosterJet engine may get all the attention, as other competitors all use larger displacement engines. The Taiwanese government taxes higher displacement engines heavily, so this smaller engine may seem like an optimal choice for those looking to save on their yearly tax bill. The 111hp @ 5500rpm 16.3kgm @ 1500-4000rpm 3 cylinder 1.0L BoosterJet engine may not seem like a lot of power, but this little turbo does pack a punch. Mated to a 6-speed automatic, the Baleno GLX has what many cars in this category doesn’t, a transmission that isn’t a CVT.
On the road:
How does the Suzuki Baleno GLX drive? The one used in this review is a 2019 model year, though it would’ve probably been the same as the 2017-18 models. The drive through the urban jungle was compliant with the Baleno taking on potholes and bumps without too much jolting into the cabin. Note the Suzuki Baleno is manufactured in India where roads are notoriously bad. Road noise is of course evident, but the NVH is good enough that it keeps the engine noise into the cabin at a minimum. Speaking of the engine, the 1.0L BoosterJet feels quick and peppy in the city. The turbo is largely free of turbo lag at lower engine speeds, so driving the Baleno is good in the city, but on the highway it may have trouble keep up with the flow of traffic. The car felt relatively stable at high speed and acceleration is brisk. Steering is predictable and maneuvering the car around obstacles is simple. Turning radius is tight with the Baleno making it easy to do a quick U-turn. While the backup camera and parking sensors make it easy to park in those tight parking spots.
3 out of 5
The price of the Baleno GLX is $NTD 698,000 ($22,650USD). There is only one trim level and the price includes all options. Compared to competitors it may seem a bit pricey, but the Baleno does come with a lot of features for the money. The 1.0L engine may still give this car the best value as it again will help you save on taxes. So, in this overcrowded field of compacts, the Suzuki does stand out from the crowd even if it does get overlooked along with perceived brand perception.