The Suzuki Baleno has enjoyed healthy demand since its initial launch in 2016, and after recently being on the receiving end of a major update, the second generation looks set to continue its upward trajectory on the country’s sales charts.
For 10 days, we lived with the most affordable GL variant that retails for R231,900 and it did everything you could ask from a pocket-friendly hatch.
A new lease on life
For the second generation, the Baleno gained a fresh face thanks to a restyled grille and headlights, and new taillights provide an updated look to the back.
On the base GL, the 15-inch steel wheels are decorated with plastic covers and fog lights are surrounded by black plastic, but stepping up to the GLX will bring alloy wheels and chrome highlights to the exterior.
Inside the cabin, the first things you notice are just how roomy the Suzuki is and that the seats are larger and more supportive than most other hatchbacks in this price bracket.
Without needing to move the seats, the rear bench is spacious, too, and a surprisingly deep boot provides ample storage area.
The Baleno, even in entry-level guise, further packs an impressive spec sheet for the price bracket.
Fitments include a 7-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, rear parking sensors, hill-hold control, ABS with brake assist, and two airbags.
A reverse camera, climate control with rear vents, and two USB ports for the back seats are also standard, and not often found on cars playing in this league.
Other highlights were the carbon-like wrapping around the aircon vents and centre console, as well as the blue dash and door inserts that lent the cabin a sporty look.
Frugal without fuss
Across the range, the Baleno gets a 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol engine between the front wheels which is rated for 77kW and 138Nm.
In this case, the five-speed manual version came through the garage and it proved frugal without the need to be overly mindful of your accelerator inputs.
The motor was at its happiest in the upper rev ranges as peak output is reached at 6,000rpm, even so, the small Suzuki averaged a constant 6.0l/100km (official: 5.4l/100km) and the 37-litre tank’s reserve light only went on after a good 515km.
The ride is agreeable as well, and it doesn’t come across as being terribly down on power as there were a few occasions it made me double-check what speed I was doing to ensure I was still within the bounds of the law.
The hatchback landscape in South Africa is feverishly competitive, especially in the class where this Suzuki finds itself.
However, the new Baleno is spacious and brings just enough amenities to the table that you’re not feeling skimped.
Paired with an economical motor and good looks to match, the hatch poses great value for its window sticker and we don’t see it losing favour in the eyes of car buyers any time soon.
Suzuki Baleno GL
Keyword: Suzuki Baleno review – Affordable done right