The new aerodynamically-styled 1.4 litre Suzuki Baleno 5-door compact hatchback is a leader in the space race.
Built on a completely fresh platform that will be used by other future Suzuki models, the efficient five-seater Baleno has a Cd drag coefficient figure of just 0.299, making it the most streamlined production Suzuki to date.
The new car is additional to the Suzuki model lineup and launches in New Zealand soon after its European debut.
In spite of a modest overall length of 3,995mm, the Baleno offers a remarkable amount of front and rear legroom, easy entry and exit and a deep 355 litre capacity boot which is more than twice the capacity of the Swift’s load area. There is 20 mm more room between the front seats and the 805 mm of rear seat legroom is a 70 mm increase compared to the Swift.
As well as being economical, the well-equipped Baleno embodies new technology that makes the car strong and safe while reducing weight. The latest model fills an important gap in the Suzuki lineup, positioned between the top-selling Swift and the S-Cross.
“The new generation Baleno provides a welcome opportunity for Swift owners who need more room, with perhaps growing families, as well as attracting more motorists to Suzuki,” said Gary Collins, Automobile General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.
“While priced less than rival models, the Baleno offers an amazing amount of interior room and an enviable level of standard equipment,” he said.
Based on the iK-2 concept vehicle exhibited by Suzuki at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Baleno is 145 mm longer than the Swift, 50 mm wider and sits on a wheelbase of 2,520 mm, a 90 mm increase. It also has wider tracks front and rear and, in keeping with the model profile, is 40 mm lower.
The longer wheelbase and a shortened engine room with the compact mechanicals have contributed to the extended cabin area. While body rigidity increases by 10 per cent, Suzuki engineers have used technology employed on the new Vitara and other measures to achieve a 15 per cent reduction in weight.
Although larger than the Swift, the Baleno’s new platform is a remarkable 100 kgs lighter, a key factor in the car’s good power to weight ratio and impressive fuel economy. The body-in-white weighs just 196 kg, outstandingly low for a car of this size. In the combined official fuel cycle test, the manual Baleno averaged 5.1 litres/100 km, a 7.3 per cent improvement over the Swift.
The impact absorbent body is designed to lessen injuries sustained by pedestrians in vehicle-to-person collisions. High tensile steel sheets are used extensively in the body and the shapely body incorporates a steeply raked windscreen for good air flow.
Aerodynamics are improved by the A-pillar design, a smoother under-floor aids air flow as does a rear-end spoiler. The C-pillar and even the shaping of the rear lamps also benefit the car’s slippery shape.
Baleno boasts a distinctive liquid-flow shape with a bold V-shaped grille, “floating roof” design and horizontal chrome strip separating the rear window frame from the tailgate.
“The new platform incorporates an optimum frame shape,” said Rodney Brown, Automobile Technical Manager for Suzuki New Zealand. “By increasing rigidity and reducing weight, the design results in better fuel efficiency, safety, handling, stability and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.”
Extensive use of 980MPa and 780MPa high tensile steel contributes toward the light but rigid body structure. The frame has smooth curving lines with fewer joints that enable reductions in required reinforcements. A trim overall 895 kg weight for the car is as much as 30 per cent lighter than similarly sized opposition brands.
Kunihiko Ito, chief engineer on the Baleno project, said, “We set our sights on developing the ideal hatchback, one that makes no compromises, giving an elegant, sophisticated and grown-up character.” Development work included fine-tune testing in Europe and the car will be progressively introduced to 100 global markets.
The tried and tested double overhead chain-driven camshaft, four valves per cylinder, 1,373 cm3, K14B 4-cylinder engine from the Swift has received minor changes for the Baleno, including modifications to the cylinder head shape and pistons. These have affected the compression ratio which rises from 10.0 to 1 to 11.0 to 1, resulting in better thermal efficiency.
The variable valve technology, fuel injected power plant is equipped with multi-point fuel injection and produces 68 kW of power at 6,000 rpm and 130 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. It emits a low 118 grams/km of CO2 with manual transmission, and the combination of an efficient engine and low weight of the car results in an outstanding 7.60 kW/100 kg power to weight ratio and best in class fuel economy.
A computerised control system ensures improved engine management control for better fuel economy and increased efficiency for the compact power plant.
A proven four-stage automatic transmission with overdrive is optional on GLX versions of Baleno and is standard on the LTD. The entry level GLX is also available with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Front suspension is by MacPherson struts and coil springs while the rear comprises torsion beam and coil springs.
Six air bags, ESP, ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD are standard, and all three versions of Baleno for New Zealand include a reverse camera for safety and convenience. Included on GLX models at no extra cost is privacy glass for the rear side and hatchback window, Smartphone audio with six speakers, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, air conditioning, leather-covered steering with steering wheel controls for the audio system and cruise control.
Remote door locks, electric operation for windows and door mirrors, daytime driving lights and a headlamp adjustment control are also standard. Automatic headlights activated by lighting intensity and “guide me home” headlights also aid convenience. The standard computer provides instrument read-outs for instant and average fuel consumption, fuel tank range, trip distance and outside air temperature.
A seven inch touchscreen for ApplePlay for maps, music podcasts, audio books and other compatible apps has special appeal for younger owners. Also provided is a USB port and SD card. There are no fewer than five cup holders and two centre pockets forward of the transmission control, plus handy door pockets.
GLX grade is priced at $21,990 plus on road costs and comes with 15-inch steel wheels fitted with 175/65SR tyres, while the same specification with automatic transmission is $23,990. LTD automatic ($24,990) has all the GLX equipment and adds 16-inch eight-spoked smoked aluminium alloy wheels shod with 185/55SR tyres, plus front fog lamps.
The Baleno is produced in India where Suzuki has had a long established reputation and a major presence for more than 30 years. Suzuki currently has 48 per cent of the growing Indian car market. In 2015, 1.2 million cars were manufactured in Suzuki’s main state of the art Indian plants, and the marque produced three million units, including 755,000 in Japan, 445,000 in East Asia and 194,000 in Europe.
“New Baleno sits between Swift and S-Cross and is a further example of our strength in the small and compact car market,” said Gary Collins. “With the introduction of Baleno we can confidently say we have all the bases covered in the small car market.”
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