This Suzuki is a sensible and thrifty way to move

Life with a Suzuki Baleno | Three-month test wrap-up

Brenwin Naidu Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
Conservative but stylish outward appearance has appeal.
Conservative but stylish outward appearance has appeal.
Image: Supplied

We bond with our cars in many different ways.

From long-distance journeys with time for moody reflection to costly labours of love where classic ownership might be concerned.

Not forgetting the serious bonding that takes place in the mundane routines of daily motoring. Those morning and afternoon traffic sessions, the weekly grocery foray, or that 10 minutes of silence you might take in your driveway before entering the house.

Over three months with our Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX manual long-termer, the car proved itself a low-key, everyday hero. A modest companion that shone in practical areas, delivering on those considerations many buyers favour in these tough economic times.

Trips to the petrol station were infrequent and less painful, thanks to its 37l tank and impressive real-world economy. Filling it up from empty costs just under R1,000 (at R25.15 per litre) and besting the claimed consumption of 5.4l/100km is entirely possible when you finesse the engine and gearbox.

The 1.5-litre normally-aspirated petrol engine wields four cylinders and outputs of 77kW/138Nm. Sounds meagre, but factoring in the low mass of the Baleno (980kg) and reasonable torque peak (around 4,000rpm), the Japanese hatchback packs an eager character.

Its manual transmission has a positive feel, with defined gates and shorter throws than you might expect. We often thought a sixth gear would not have gone amiss, allowing the tachometer to sit lower during freeway cruising. Other gripes?

No leatherette - but other aspects of cabin endeared.
No leatherette - but other aspects of cabin endeared.
Image: Supplied

Thankfully, superficial at best. If you have been following the Baleno missives, you would have noted criticisms against the provision of a single coat hook and small sun visors. We also said leatherette upholstery would have been welcomed, over the cloth to be found in this range-topper.

In fairness, the vehicle redeemed itself in other aspects of the specification discussion. There are features that are not standard on cars costing twice as much. That includes a very crisp head-up display system, and a brilliant 360º camera setup, which one became quite reliant on. Its aerial view is incredibly useful, enabling precise, expert-level parking manoeuvres in tight settings.

The grown-up feel of the Baleno was evident in all environments, steady on its 195/55/16 wheels around town, on the highway and the occasional low-speed gravel road. Its 150mm ground clearance is sufficient for such eventualities, as well as allowing for worry-free traversing over potholed sections.

Another surprise that endeared very early in the game was its spacious frontal area. My partner is blessed with a strong height gene and she commented on how “not cramped” she felt in the passenger side. The 314l boot was put to the test over countless grocery forays.

Though the Baleno is priced affordably, the range did see a price increase in May that added about R8,000 to the tag. In our previous update we tallied all the expected running costs of the 1.5 GLX, worth referring to if you are considering buying one.

Roomy boot and folding seats offered good degree of practicality.
Roomy boot and folding seats offered good degree of practicality.
Image: Supplied

Should you? All things considered, the Suzuki is an easy car to recommend. Priced competitively, well-equipped, attractive, frugal and likely to last long after the average finance term. We enjoyed its sensible nature.

LONG-TERM UPDATE FINAL | 2024 Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX manual
PRAISES: A practical package overall.
GRIPES: Nothing more than the minor criticisms raised above.

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