It’s no secret the Toyota Starlet, a car that’s virtually identical to the Suzuki Baleno has been a runaway sales success since its September 2020 launch.
In the Starlet’s first two full months on sale, Toyota sold over 2000 units. And by the end of 2020 it occupied third spot on the top 10 list for being-selling cars in December.
Enough about the Starlet. I recently drove the GLX Baleno which features a new look, introduced in 2019, and upgraded safety features in 2020.
The Baleno is powered by a 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated petrol motor with 68kW and 130Nm mated to a five-speed manual and power is sent to the front wheels. It’s not the most powerful unit but offers adequate oomph mainly because the car weighs just over 900 kilograms.
Over the couple of days we tested the vehicle, the engine’s power was adequate for city driving and on the highway. Overtaking required gearing down a few times to access more grunt.
The six-speed manual feels nice and slick with an ease that first-time drivers will enjoy. After all, the Baleno is a budget-beating hatchback.
The cabin is well laid out with good use of materials and clear instrument cluster and infotainment graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available by connecting a smartphone via the USB port.
The GLX has a 17cm touchscreen and 10cm colour multi-information display in the instrument cluster.
Other standard features include cruise control, keyless start and entry, reverse camera, leather-covered steering wheel, front armrest and automatic climate control.
The Baleno is an attractive-looking car with the updated model featuring the brand’s ‘signature Liquid Flow’ line. At the front there’s a wide and more three-dimensional chrome strip that frames a new grille and S-emblem. The chrome strip now passes through the front headlights to end at the fender-line.
It features LED headlights with LED daytime driving lights adding a sense of class to the front, with intergrated fog lights situated below.
At the rear there is a deeply sculpted lower bumper with a hexagonal centre intake. Sharper creases mirror those on the bonnet and add to the more aggressive profile, says Suzuki.
The flagship GLX really entices buyers by looking the part with new polished diamond cut alloy wheels and chrome door handles, beltline and on the rear tailgate.
It is fitted with a spoiler on the rear tailgate and dark privacy glass on the rear doors and tailgate.
On the safety front, Suzuki has gone to great lengths to offer a safe car without scrimping on value. Therefore, all models feature ABS brakes, with emergency brake assistance (BAS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and they have side-impact bars on all doors.
All models also have ISOFIX mounts for child safety seats, a high-mounted stop lamp and, on the security side, an alarm system as standard.
The Baleno punches above its weight with a price of R259 900. It offers a generous number of standard features, solid build quality, and a decent drive.
Resource: Sean Parker – wheels24.co.za