Johannesburg - One of South Africa’s most affordable B-segment hatchbacks, the Suzuki Baleno, has been given a midlife makeover. 

Now available in local showrooms, the Baleno gains numerous design enhancements both inside and out. Although the front end retains a familiar presence, there is a new bumper with larger side air inlets as well as a resculpted bonnet with new crease lines, redesigned grille with thicker chrome surround and new headlights that sport a 3D look, while full LED lamps adorn the GLX model. The range-topping GLX also receives new ‘diamond cut’ alloy wheels.

A new colour called Magma Grey joins the menu along with five other existing hues.

Talking colour, the Baleno now has two-tone seat-upholstery and door trim, featuring a combination of black and blue, while new brushed aluminium garnishes adorn parts of the dashboard, instrument cluster and steering wheel.

On the mechanical front, the Baleno carries over the previous 1.4-litre unit that produces 68kW and 130Nm and as before, it’s available with five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmission choices. It’s a perfectly adequate engine in our experience, particularly considering the car weighs just 915kg, but we would certainly like to see the new 1.5-litre motor under this hood, and one or two of Suzuki’s new Boosterjet turbo motors for that matter.

The range: GL or GLX

Also mirroring the previous Baleno is the line-up, which offers a choice between GL and GLX specification grades.

GL packs all the comfort and safety basics like aircon, electric windows, audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, multi-function steering wheel, keyless entry, height-adjustable driver’s seat, dual front airbags and ABS brakes.

The GLX sweetens the deal with automatic climate control, cruise control, rear park distance control, push-button start, a front armrest as well as side and curtain airbags and rear disc brakes. The range-topper is also available with Suzuki’s new ‘SLDA’ 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

What they cost

Prices start at R209 900, which is the same as before, and it’s interesting to note that the Baleno’s prices have only increased by R10 000 since the model was originally launched nearly three years ago, in November 2016. In GL form it is currently the most affordable modern B-segment hatchback, bearing in mind that the older-generation VW Polo Vivo does undercut it.

All Balenos are sold with a four-year/60 000km service plan and five-year/200 000km promotional warranty. 

PRICES

1.4 GL manual - R209 900

1.4 GLX manual - R239 900

1.4 GLX manual SLDA - R244 900

1.4 GLX auto - R254 900

1.4 GLX auto SLDA - R259 900

IOL Motoring