2017 Suzuki Baleno GLX Turbo: Car Review by A Wheel Thing.

Suzuki has brought back a name from the past, the Baleno, and there’s two models to play with. The GL and GLX Turbo are what you can buy. A Wheel Thing took home the GLX Turbo.Both models are physically identical in dimensions, with a compact 3995 mm overall length. Inside that is a 2520 mm wheelbase, providing a spacious cabin and an engine bay to hold the 1.0L Boosterjet turbo three cylinder engine. Yep, a turboed three potter. It’s got an unusual and engaging thrum, this little banger, pumping out a handy 82 kilowatts at 5500 rpm. More impressively, there’s 160 torques from 1500 through to 4000, via a six speed auto and will haul the 975 kg (kerb) charmer along without stress. Along the way, it’ll average a nice 5.2L per 100 km from the 37 litre tank.The Baleno GLX Turbo’s strength is that engine. It’s a delight to listen to and begs to be revved hard on the freeways. Around town it’s flexible, willing, and responsive to the questions a driver asks. The auto is slightly less compliant, with some hesitation on upchanges. It’ll also hold ratios on downhill runs and will willingly slip from sixth to fifth to fourth before staying there without any driver involvement. Oddly, there’s no manual mode and, as a result, no steering column paddle shifts.The interior is the weak point of what could and should be a sporty themed car, given the verve of the engine. Flat, slabby, unsupportive seats, cheap and tacky looking silvered plastic trim and lurid red backlighting contrast with the cobalt blue dash lighting on a 4.2 inch LCD screen and the almost coronal look the dials have with that lighting. Although the switchgear is reasonably laid out, the low budget look for the interior disappoints.There’s also far too much road noise from the 185/55/16 rubber, regardless of road surface. The smoothest roads have the noise level as marginal at best, and coarse chip roads make radio listening and cabin conversations almost impossible. Again, given the aural appeal of the three banger and the sheer enjoyment in the drive of it that the engine imbues, it’s a disappointment.To sharpen the edge, Suzuki do offer a good range of standard equipment, including dusk sensing HID projector headlights, Hill Hold Control, satnav via a touchscreen, voice command and Apple CarPlay. CD Player? Why, no sir, get with the times, as today’s modern lad or ladette stream music via Bluetooth. The touchscreen is the same as found in the Vitara, for example, and it’s a simple, easy, intuitive setup. The leather clad steerer has a good heft and feel, houses Bluetooth and cruise, plus has a quick enough steering rack ratio to imbue enough of a sporty feel that it backs up the driveline and chassis.It’s a tried and true combo, the MacPherson strut/torsion beam mix. The spring rates are such that there’s minimal body roll, a generous level of compliance and comfort tuned in, an easily controllable amount of understeer in a sharp turn by using the throttle judiciously, feathering power into the front wheels. But to give the Baleno GLX its head is a delight; that throaty warble from the three cylinder matches up with the surprising acceleration, combining to delight the senses and the soul of a true driver. It’ll hunker down, it feels, and exhibit some handling traits that are engaging and, frankly, fun to have.Outside, the Baleno both harkens back to the original and brings along its own sense of style. A smooth, fluidic, and elegant profile hides a sensible and usable 355 litres of cargo (with a space saver spare) that increases to 756 Lwhen you fold the rear pews. With a smooth mix of angles and curves at the front, including DRLs whilst the rear also tags the memory with largish tail lights it’s an attractive looking prospect. Inside and out you’ll find six airbags (both cars miss out on a seemingly mandatory nowadays kneebag), Electronic Stability Control (that’s well balanced with only the occasional feel of the electronics tugging the car back into line), keyless Start/Stop and reverse camera as standard. However, there’s no rain sensing wipers nor, surprisingly, do you get parking sensors, front or rear.It’s surprising how much room Suzuki have engineered in, given the compact size. It’s under four metres in length (3995 mm), has an overall width of 1745 mm and rolls on a 2520 mm wheelbase. Although Suzuki haven’t quoted interior dimensions, be assured that for four adults it’s fine.At The End Of The Drive.
Suzuki’s badly needed renaissance continues with the dual Baleno range and the GLX Turbo stands as an example of how the brand has reinvented itself so successfully. Against competitors such as the Cerato, i30 or Corolla, it’s better than a worthy contender as a driver’s car. However, the ride noise and the iffish interior (except for that eyecatching dash dial colour mix) unfortunately bring the Baleno’s overall allure down a notch. A three year/100K kiloemtre warranty is also standard but also behind some competitors. However, the range does start at $16990 driveaway and thats definitely worthy of checking out. For more info and to book a test drive, go here:2016 Suzuki Baleno range and info

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