With a starting price of just $16,990 driveaway for the Baleno GL manual, or $17,990 driveaway for the Baleno GL automatic, the new five-door hatch is sure to ruffle a few feathers among the opposition.
The Baleno has also been designed to fill the needs of buyers for whom ever-larger small cars are now simply too large.
With an overall length that sneaks in at just under 4.0 metres, it's on the smaller side of the small segment, but, at the same time, offering more seating and cargo space than the smaller Swift.
The Baleno is built on an all-new lightweight platform, allowing it to use smaller and more efficient engines, however boot space is rated at 355 litres, larger than the Mazda3 and just five litres less than Corolla.
The entry level Baleno GL runs a 1.4 litre naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 68kW of power and 130Nm of torque, matched to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, with fuel consumption of just 5.1 l/100km for manual and 5.4 l/100km for the automatic.
The GL arrives with standard features including 15-inch steel wheels, LED running lamps, front fog lights, auto headlights, rear privacy glass, cloth seat trim, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, cruise control with speed limiter, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, front and rear power windows and Bluetooth connectivity.
Step up to the Baleno GLX and power comes from a 1.0 litre three-cylinder ‘BoosterJet’ turbocharged engine, with 82kW of power and 160Nm of torque, matched to a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
While the raw numbers may not look like a fair match against some competitors, Suzuki claims that the the Baleno GLX boasts a better power to weight ratio that the Toyota Corolla, while using just 5.5 l/100km compared to the automatic Corolla hatch at 6.1 l/100km.
As well as a more powerful engine, the GLX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, mirror-mounted indicators, integrated LED running lights, reach adjustable steering (tilt-only on GL), centre console armrest, climate control air conditioning, colour instrument cluster display with performance meters, keyless entry and start, and rear disc brakes.
Suzuki has set strategically aggressive pricing for the Baleno range, designed to undercut competitors at the entry level, and put the up-spec GLX up against the base models of other brands. Standard touchscreen infotainment and satellite navigation are key Baleno advantages.
Baleno GL five-speed manual - $16,990
Baleno GLX four-speed automatic - $17,990
Baleno GLX six-speed automatic - $22,990
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