Tuesday, 17 May 2022

New Suzuki’s lightness of being is very bearable

WHAT’S in an engine, you may ask? Well, comes the reply, it’s that thing under the

WHAT’S in an engine, you may ask? Well, comes the reply, it’s that thing under the bonnet that together with all the other “things” in a car, gets you from A to B.

And that could be it. You may be one of no doubt millions of motorists who have no further interest in an engine other than the fact it makes the wheels go round.

But the engine is one of the first things I respond to when testing a new car.

Not because of any highfalutin technical know-how on my part.

I know little about the actual workings of an internal combustion engine other than the basics.

But when it comes to how an engine performs in making those wheels go round, I definitely know what I like.

And I like the engine in the all-new Suzuki Baleno. Actually, there are two new engines available, and I hope to report on the second power option at a later date.

For now, the Suzuki Baleno I was driving — a 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5 — was powered by this rather wonderful three-cylinder, 998cc direct injection turbo (DITC) engine. This is not a massive unit; that much I think we can all understand. Engines of a similar cubic capacity powered the first Minis, for example, launched in the Sixties.

Those small Mini engines were revolutionary in their day but technology has advanced so much that this Suzuki engine now offers the same level of power and torque (pulling power) of cars with larger engines (say around 1.8-litre).

What this translates into for the driver of the Baleno is a new, small hatchback that whizzes along with consummate ease and is a pleasure to drive.

What gives this particular petrol engine its own special oomph is the “high torque turbocharger”.

This Suzuki Baleno’s new 1.0-litre engine employs fuel injectors and other technology to “inject fuel with a high combustion efficiency to provide greater fuel economy and improved power output”.

Official fuel figures for this little buzz bomb record 62.7mpg on the combined cycle, with a maximum speed of 124 mph and acceleration from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds. All that may be the case, but from a punter’s point of view — is there any other when it comes to everyday driving? — the Baleno has a wonderful willingness to perform.

I think this has something also to do with its actually very bearable lightness of being. There has been a high level of weight reduction achieved in the manufacture of this car.

The Baleno is one of the lightest hatchbacks amongst its competitors — in one case by more than 200kg.

Actually, I did experience what this can mean on the open road in rather extreme conditions.

During 40mph winds on a motorway drive in the Baleno, its lightness was apparent though not a problem. Besides, everyone else on the motorway that day was rocking and rolling in the gales.

So what about elsewhere on this new model, that is, not only comfort, safety and equipment but also its looks? The Baleno is a five-door vehicle, which always gets my vote in smaller cars. I wouldn’t say its styling is remarkable but it is pleasant to the eye and I quite like its compact stance on the road.

Car makers these days seem to apply fancy names to what is behind their model range. Suzuki’s is something called “Liquid Flow”.

Well, I suppose you have to call it something and I can live with that as the overall Baleno look is smart and very 21st century.

Interior comfort by the nature of the beast is not always the strongest suit of any hatchback. But by creating a larger car than its Swift sister the Baleno offers useful extra interior space and larger boot capacity.

I’ve said it before but I see no reason why small cars cannot enjoy at least some of the comfort that is usually found in larger, more expensive models.

I know it’s all about cost but a “luxury” Baleno plus its unique small car engine power would be very appealing.

However, I fully understand that we are in everyday hatchback territory here. And if you are up for a new car and want a small hatchback with a big heart then do give the new Suzuki Baleno a shot.

Suzuki Baleno facts

Test car: Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5

• Price: (on the road, including options) £13,999

• New 1.0-litre three  cylinder engine — second application of Suzuki’s Boosterjet technology.

• 111PS direct injection turbocharged engine (DITC) offers a wide spread of torque, CO2 emissions of 105g/km for manual transmission 1.0-litre Boosterjet model.

• EC combined fuel consumption of 62.7mpg for Boosterjet model with manual transmission

• Six airbags fitted as standard on all Baleno models

• Satellite navigation, Bluetooth and air conditioning fitted standard on all models

• Radar brake support and adaptive cruise  control fitted as  standard to SZ5 grade

• Priced from £12,999 for SZ-T 1.0-litre  Boosterjet

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