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New Suzuki Baleno 1st drive.

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A million ….yes one million ….isigidi …..a number usually associated  to Lottery winnings , that’s the number of Balenos Suzuki has sold over the past 6years since it’s inception. An impressive feat indeed, in its second generation here in South Africa, it has made its own mark.

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What’s new with the 2nd generation ?, for starters  it looks bloody good , the front end with a chrome insert running right across the honeycomb  grille, new design LED headlights with triple spotted daytime running lights, the lower valance is dominated by a black plastic insert , fog lights and chrome bits over the fog lights. The side view is enhanced by new 16” alloys , colour –coded mirrors , chrome door handles , a chrome marked shoulder line, at the back a roof spoiler , chrome mid placed spoiler that housed a reversing camera, and  LED tail lights.

Keyless entry into the interior, one is met by a very fresh and welcoming new centre console with a bigger (9”) touch screen, multifunction steering wheel, comfortable seats in black cloth, the door panels have a 2 tone deep blue and black finish, the overall feel is great, especially for a car on this end of the market.

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The model that is getting the most  mention on this review is the top of the range GLX, the Baleno executes the features listing quite well, you would be forgiven for thinking you are in something far more expensive, stand out features include a 360 degrees well detailed view via 4 cameras mounted on the front bumper , rear bumber and under side view mirrors, a head up display with lots of driving information, push start button , front and rear park distance control, 3 USB ports including one for type C phones, split climate control system. The new Baleno also has Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple Car prep for connectivity. The experience is pleasant thanks to the combination of practical features.

The Baleno is now powered a by normally aspirated 1.5L 4 cylinder petrol engine with a claimed 77kw of power and 138nm of torque, this is paired to a 5 speed manual or 4 speed Automatic sending power to the front wheels. The drive is smooth thanks to a well weighted car that is light on fuel and its feet, offering a composed and balanced drive, insulation is improved, and driving with Dozer is always exciting, we missed a point on our route and ended up on light gravel leading to a rundown quarry, this allowed the Baleno to showcase its ride quality and suspension credentials, it did so without breaking a single sweat. The other stripes the new comer prides itself on is superb fuel consumption , we managed a healthy 5.7L /100km on our stint which included some spirited sprints combined with urban frustration of a multitude of road works. I never knew Thekwini had so many potholes or the route we did had a significant amount of those. I will admit I was quite worried about driving in Durban after those tragic floods.

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The Baleno manages to balance modern practicality, space and fuel saving quite well in a very economy that has us by the short & curlys on increases in fuel and everything thanks to a multiple factors. At R275 900 with a 60 000km/4Year service plan , and a 5Year/200 000km promotional warranty , it makes a compelling case for anyone looking for a great package a fraction of a cost. It gets my NOD.

Thanks to Suzuki SA for a superb launch.

Yours in motoring

Wezile Lorenzio Bonani       

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