Suzuki says that when it set out to create its latest hatchback – “one like none before” – it established a key guideline – hold back on nothing”. From that came the Suzuki Baleno.
Baleno? Wikipedia defines it as “a sudden intense burst of light”. Let’s hope it won’t be a flash in the pan…
The automaker describes the B-segment five-seater as “an harmonious combination of styling, superb performance through ground-breaking technologies, and smart packaging”.
Suzuki’s an acknowledged leader in compact-car architecture but even so emphasises “this bar-raising hatchback is fun to drive and engineered to meet today’s consumers’ needs”. Indeed, the chief engineer of the “flash of light”, Kunihiko It, explained the concept thus: “We set our sights on developing the ideal hatchback, one that makes no compromise, one that has an elegant, sophisticated and grown-up character.”
So, after all the above, what’s the car all about?
TWO ENGINES, ASTOUNDING POWER
Suzuki believes it “perfectly embodies all the elements expected in a car of this size – design, utility, comfort, manoeuvrability, superior driving performance, fuel efficiency”. The package comes with a choice of two engines on a new platform that, the automaker adds, “offers style, utility, manoeuvrability, driving performance and fuel efficiency, comfort – even long-distance with plenty of space for adults front and rear – and generous luggage space” (355 litres).
Sales of the Baleno will start in Europe early in 2016. Suzuki SA says it is still studying the car so no local launch is sorted yet.
Two engines have been designed for the cars – a one-litre BoosterJet direct-injection, high-torque, turbocharged unit and a 1.2-litre DualJet. The smaller, Suzuki says, is capable of 82kW at 5500rpm / 170Nm from 2000-3500rpm – figures unheard of in a small family car only a few years ago – while the unblown 1.2 makes 66kW at 6000rpm / 120Nm at 4400rpm.
Suzuki SA told me that it’s also looking at the 1.4 engine already in use in the current Swift – but added than no choice(s) had yet been made.
The cars, Suzuki says, have a low and wide profile, wraparound windows, “expressive” character lines and gently contoured surfaces. The driver faces a multi-information colour display, can rely on active cruise control with a speed limiter, and a use a phone connection compatible with Apple CarPlay.
TOUCH OF CHROME
The compact cars still claim seating for five and “best-in-class” (B-segment) luggage space. Depending on model, auto emergency braking is included in an armoury of crash avoidance/mitigation features.
For now, there are nine body colours – one of them, a blue pearl metallic – changes from green/blue to a reddish hue depending on the surrounding lighting.
Trim includes weather strips made of iridescent stainless-steel and chromed door releases; the wraparound windows are separated by blacked-out A pillars and a thin roof-spoiler is said to improve aerodynamic performance.
There’s a choice of 16” alloy or 15” steel wheels.
The instrument panel has silver accents that “stand out against the restrained black of the cabin” and reddish-amber illumination for the audio, aircon controls, gear shift indicator and other controls. A large, high-definition colour liquid-crystal display shows performance and other information through user-friendly graphics – among them G-force, engine output and torque, accelerator/brake operation and energy flow (for vehicles with the optional energy recovery system).
HOOK UP YOUR SMARTPHONE
The smartphone link uses an 18cm touchscreen with a USB port and SD card slot and doubles as a reversing camera. It can be connected to an iPhone via a USB cable to use Apple CarPlay’s various functions, such as maps, phone, messages, and music, as well as podcasts, audiobooks, and third-party Apple CarPlay compatible audio apps.
Collision mitigation gear includes six crash bags and an impact absorbent body. Various components have also been designed to lessen injuries sustained by pedestrians in vehicle-to-person collisions.
Key dimensions: length 3995mm; width 1745mm; height 1470mm, wheelbase 2520mm; minimum ground clearance 120mm.