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2018 Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Review

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Driven: 2018 Suzuki Baleno SZ5

The Suzuki Baleno SZ5 is the Japanese manufacturer’s entry in the supermini market. I attempt to see if this little guy presents itself as a viable alternative.

What is the 2018 Suzuki Baleno SZ5 All About?

If you’re looking for a supermini in the UK, luckily, your choice isn’t too limited. There’s a range of options out there, including the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, Volkswagen Polo, and SEAT Ibiza, to name a few. What if you’re looking for something more unorthodox though?

Suzuki Baleno SZ5

The contemporary Suzuki Baleno we have here is a supermini that was introduced only three years ago. It was sold first in India, then Japan, before finally being brought over to Europe two years ago. On the surface, it offers a simple 5-seater practical hatchback, but it’ll take more than that to generate interest.

Suzuki is one of those brands that designs and manufactures vehicles with a unique look, such as the charming Swift. The Baleno sports a more conventional design, some would say more European. Perhaps it’s Suzuki’s attempt to become more upmarket; with a chrome accent grille, modern headlamps and a sleek body line.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 Front

Put simply, it looks like a rounder Kia. Our model was finished in gorgeous, reflection-friendly ‘Ray Blue’ paint. Sitting on 16″ alloy wheels, it looks very stylish.

Suzuki tend to choose enticing names for their engines, and this Baleno was no exception. It features a 1.0-litre ‘Boosterjet’ 3-cylinder turbocharged inline-3 engine. It generates 110 bhp and emits 170 Nm of torque, which compares well to similar offerings.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 Front 1.0-litre 3 cylinder engine SZ5

Matched to that little engine is a 5-speed manual transmission that powers the front wheels, propelling the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 from 0-62 mph in 11 seconds, with a top speed of 118 mph. Not scintillating, but perfect for a typical supermini.

Aside from the 5-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic version is also available. The Suzuki Baleno SZ5 is the top-of-the-range model, with the SZ3 being the budget variant, and the SZ-T being the intermediary. The ‘Dualjet SHVS’ engine is also available, which is a 1.2-litre mild hybrid variant of the SZ5.

What is it Like to Drive?

With the aid of a small turbocharger, manufacturers nowadays can add some zest into even the most mundane economy-minded engine layout. The 1.0 ‘Boosterjet’ we have here is a fine example. It acts like a diesel engine, with the bulk of its punch coming fast and early, getting the Baleno off the line swiftly.

Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Driving

It is not a fast car, but it is perky enough for most buyers. It moves rapidly, and it wouldn’t struggle on A-roads. The sweet spot is within the mid-range, and you quickly learn to utilise the best of this engine.

That said, the engine is rougher on idle, with mild but somewhat palpable vibrations. This is to be expected in an inline-3, as it can only be mitigated, and not solved completely. Once you get going, it thrums along nicely, and smooths out.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Rear Driving

The 5-speed manual transmission is rather jaunty: the shifts are light and easy. It’s more suited to city driving, but may be off-putting for the occasional B-road storming.

In terms of handling, there’s one thing that plays in the Suzuki Baleno’s favour, and that’s the fact that it weighs less than a tonne. It’s increasingly rare to see production models that make it to the sub-tonne mark nowadays, but the Baleno is one of them.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Driving Lane

While it may not be the most gracious vehicle when cornering, it is a pretty sprightly supermini. It turns in well, and it changes direction quickly with plenty of grip to back it up. It’s not as eager or gung-ho as the Suzuki Swift or Ford Fiesta, but it’s not exactly inert. The steering isn’t overly communicative, but it’s light and easy to shift. Suzuki has struck a good balance on the braking force as well.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Low Driving Towards Camera

That said, while the suspension of the Baleno leans toward the soft side, it still struggles with precarious roads. It is a more unrefined drive than comparable superminis, but I suspect part of it has to do with its lack of weight.

Alloy Wheels Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5

Perhaps due to that, the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 is rather rough at motorway speeds. The gear ratio is tightly packed, encouraging spirited driving, but unsuited to the odd highway cruising. You can hear the wind rustling, and the engine begins to drone. Regardless, highway refinement isn’t exactly a supermini’s forte.

What is it Like Inside?

The interior of the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 is very spacious, considering it is a light supermini. There is plenty of legroom and adequate headroom.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Interior steering wheel and media

If you’re expecting premium material though, you may be disappointed. The seats are upholstered in fabric, with no leather option available. However, the front seats are rather firm, providing good support, with a sporty flourish.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Drivers instruments

The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, but there is a shortage of soft-touch materials, with a reliance on harsher plastics. The door cards do feel hollow too, which contributes to a noisier cabin. Negotiating perilous bumps, you may feel a bit of trim rattle.

Infotainment System Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 7"

That said, with the SZ5 being the top model in the Suzuki Baleno range, it does offer a lot of standard equipment. It includes a modest but very intuitive and easy to use 4.2″ touchscreen infotainment system, automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, six airbags, and radar brake Support, which means brake assist to avoid a collision.

The boot capacity is also generous at 320 litres with the seats up, which is ahead of the Fiesta.

The Experience

Overall, the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 made a good impression. I understand the core concept behind this car, and that is to offer a sensible supermini that will appeal to everyone in the market. It looks inoffensive, it drives well, and it has a spacious interior. The engine was also very efficient, burning little fuel even with me pushing it hard.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 in the rain

It doesn’t quite offer the fit and finish from the big players, but it is strangely charming in its endeavor. What it lacks in interior quality, it makes up for in accoutrements offered, which appeals to most buyers in this market.

Verdict

Yes, the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 isn’t the be all and end all of superminis. It won’t steal the Ford Fiesta’s crown just yet, but it has its own merits. It offers plenty of space, a bubbly yet economical turbocharged inline-3 engine and many accessories. For £15,999, it is a solid choice.

Suzuki Baleno Brand Badge

That said, it loses out on the fun factor. For that, you’d have to consider a Fiesta, Ibiza or even the Suzuki Swift. If you want something similarly quirky and spacious, the Skoda Fabia may interest you too. But if you find the Suzuki magic alluring, you can’t go wrong with the Baleno.

Suzuki Baleno Ray Blue 2018 SZ5 Rear Side on

2018 Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Specs

  • Price: £15,999
  • Engine: 1.0-litre ‘Boosterjet’ turbocharged inline-3
  • Power: 110 bhp
  • Torque: 170 Nm
  • Transmission:  5-speed manual transmission
  • 0-62mph: 11.0 Seconds
  • Top speed: 118 mph
  • Weight: 950 kg
  • Economy: 60.1 mpg
  • CO2: 103 g/km
Gallery

Living with the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 & FAQs

We got to spend a week behind the wheel of a supermini that many people will have overlooked. The model that we tested was the Suzuki Baleno SZ5, priced at £15,999. Here are some of the key takeaways from testing the car.

What is the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Infotainment System Like?

Suzuki uses the same large touchscreen infotainment system throughout most of their range. It comes fully equipped with Smartphone Linkage Display Audio, three-dimensional navigation maps, mirror link, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The system is all very well thought-out and nicely done.

The menu systems aren’t too complicated, and new users of all ages will get used to handling the system in no time.

Suzuki Baleno 0003

Does the 1.0-litre Engine in the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Have Enough Power?

It features a 1.0-litre ‘Boosterjet’ 3-cylinder turbocharged inline-3 engine. It generates 110 bhp and emits 170 Nm of torque. Suzuki says that the Baleno SZ5 will get from 0-62 mph in 11 seconds, with a top speed of 118 mph. However, it is not uncommon for Suzuki to underplay their figures. Often has clocked their cars beating stated 0-62mph times by up to 2 seconds.

Suzuki Baleno 0006

The feeling that you get behind the wheel is surprisingly good, the smaller engine actually has a lot of power considering the car only weighs 950kg.

Suzuki Baleno 0008

What is the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Like to Drive?

It is perky enough for most buyers. It moves rapidly, and won’t struggle on A-roads. The sweet spot is within the mid-range, and you quickly learn to utilise the engine’s talents.

The 5-speed manual gearbox is rather jaunty: the shifts are light and easy. It’s more suited to city driving, but may be off-putting for the occasional B-road storming.

Suzuki Baleno 0033

In terms of handling, there’s one thing that plays in the Suzuki Baleno’s favour, and that’s the fact that it weighs less than a tonne. It’s increasingly rare to see production models that make it to the sub-tonne mark nowadays, but the Baleno is one of them.

Is the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Spacious Enough Inside?

The interior of the Suzuki Baleno SZ5 is very spacious, considering it’s a light supermini. There is plenty of leg-room and adequate head-room.

Personally, I’m 6″4, and I felt very comfortable in the car, with plenty of room behind. Being able to adjust the steering wheel rake adjustment to a suitable place definitely helped.

Suzuki Baleno 0005

What Do People Think of the Suzuki Car Brand in the UK?

A lot of people probably know Suzuki more for their motorbikes rather than their cars. However, I think at the moment in the UK, Suzuki are starting to be recognised more and more as a reputable car brand. From my time testing the car, I got to speak with a lot of different people, and there was certainly a lot of intrigue about the model and brand.

Suzuki Baleno 0015

They are a qualified alternative to some of the more boring brands and have a sense of lightheartedness and fun around them that not all car manufacturers can lay claim to.

Customer Focused Questions

With the aim to answer some common questions, we listed out some things about the car that we could see people searching for online and got the answers together in one place.

How Much Does a Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Cost?

You can buy a Suzuki Baleno in the UK from £12,999 in SZ3 trim, £14,999 in SZ-T trim and £15,999 in SZ5 trim.

Are Suzuki’s Reliable?

This is, of course, something that is very hard to prove. We have spent some time looking through various  ourselves and haven’t seen any major issues related to reliability. Let’s not forget that every new Suzuki comes with a three-year or 60,000-miles warranty too.

suzukibaleno3

Why Buy a Suzuki Baleno?

This is the big question – and there are lots of reasons to look at buying a Suzuki Baleno. The biggest factor for me is the price. If you are happy with the SZ3 trim then the price provides incredible value, but if you want more bells and whistles such as radar brake support, reversing camera and adaptive cruise control, the SZ5 trim is more appealing and also incredible value when directly compared to its rivals.

What Insurance Group is a Swift Baleno SZ5?

The Baleno SZ5 with the 1.0-litre petrol engine and manual gearbox is insurance group 14 in the UK. The 1.2 Dualjet SHVS SZ5 is insurance group 11.

Which Engines are Available in the Suzuki Baleno SZ5?

There are two core engines in the range –  one is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder, the other is Suzuki’s three-cylinder turbo petrol, dubbed BoosterJet.

Suzuki also offers a mild hybrid system for the 1.2: the SHVS. This adds a battery that boosts acceleration and fuel efficiency as it harvests energy under braking – very clever.

Where Can I Read a Full Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Review?

If you are interested in seeing our full review of the Suzuki Baleno SZ5, take a read on Chungcuredep.

Suzuki Baleno SZ5

How Much Boot Space Does a Suzuki Baleno SZ5 Have?

The boot is massive, it holds 320 litres with the rear seats in place. This is more than you get in the Ford Focus (316 litres).

How Often Do You Need to Service a Suzuki Baleno?

Suzuki recommends that you service your Suzuki Baleno once a year or every 9,000 or 12,500* miles, whichever comes first.

How Much Does it Cost for Road Tax on a Suzuki Baleno?

You will pay £140 per year.

Suzuki Balano, How Big is the Fuel Tank?

37 Litres.

What MPG Can I Get Out of the Suzuki Baleno BoosterJet?

A very real figure would be around 42mpg.  But that could stretch from 45 – 60mpg if you drive it nicely.

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