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B-segment hatchback is a proper petrol-sipper

Life with a Suzuki Baleno | Fuel economy

Brenwin Naidu Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
Our Baleno's average consumption over the past 175km.
Our Baleno's average consumption over the past 175km.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

We will never stop complaining about the price of petrol. For every fractional decrease announced, comes successions of more severe increases in fuel prices, influenced by forces well beyond control of the humble motorist.

What you can do to alleviate the burden in some respects, is adjust your driving style, or contemplate trading into a vehicle that delivers better fuel economy. Sure, a six-cylinder BMW might get you parking privileges but surely the prospect of surplus cash would eclipse such trivial exploits?

It has been about three weeks since we took delivery of a Suzuki Baleno, spending a three-month test period in our fleet.

The 1.5 GLX manual we are testing comes in at R299,900, but you can get the GL model from R247,900.

Over the recent period of familiarisation, the model has made a positive impression in the area of economy.

For starters, it helps that the tank size is compact, at 37l. This makes filling it up from empty much less daunting. At current inland pricing, replenishing the tank with 95 unleaded would set you back around R860.

Based on the average consumption figure claimed by the manufacturer, the Suzuki could yield as much as 685km from a full tank. Not bad at all. But if you drive nicely, you might even be able to better the purported 5.4l/100km.

Respectable transportation with grown-up aesthetics.
Respectable transportation with grown-up aesthetics.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

If you spend most of your time on the freeway, taking it easy in the middle lane, listening to classical music and with the air-conditioner used sparingly, seeing figures in the 4.1l/100km region is not out of the question. Our route over the last 175km has consisted mostly of short, town-based commutes. 

Of course, you need to remain ever mindful about your driving style should you want to conserve fuel as best as possible. That includes simple measures such as being judicious with throttle input, using downhill momentum where safe to do so and shifting up a little earlier, without letting the tachometer needle stretch its legs. It does not hurt to be pedantic about your tyre pressures either.

At this point, we should note that even though the Baleno is geared towards economy, its performance is reasonably zingy.

The 77kW/138Nm from the four-cylinder 1.5-litre sounds paltry on paper, but remember, it only has to move 980kg.

We have come to appreciate the direct shifting nature of the five-speed, complemented by a clutch pedal with short travel. Though the low uptake point does require some getting used to for smooth pull-away in traffic.

Luggage compartment offers just over 300l of space.
Luggage compartment offers just over 300l of space.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

While the Baleno is something of a featherweight, its road manners deserve praise. It is not as easily swayed by crosswinds as one might suspect. The 195/55/16 wheels offer a reasonable footprint, with plenty buffering for potholes and other symptoms of decaying Gauteng asphalt.

Our fuel needle indicates slightly less than 3/4 full, still running on the petrol the vehicle was delivered with. In our next missive we will report back on the actual mileage at which the refuel light comes on and how close that is to the 685km claim. For now, we look forward to adding to the odometer of our unit, currently sitting just over 2,354km. Barely run-in.

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