An Alfa lover’s Baleno affair

By John Topping Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

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Long-term test update: Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX

Pretoria - Alfa Romeos have been my passion since I got my driving licence in 1969

My first car was a 1959 Giulia and my last, without any model interruption, was a red 159 Q4 3.2. Now that I have reached the relatively advanced age of almost 69, I have downgraded, if that is the right word, to a more traditional car, which is more than adequate for my needs.

However, and this is a big however, I was recently given a new Suzuki Baleno, for 10 days, to run around in and test drive by our motoring pundit Willem van der Putte. As you can imagine, this was a novel experience for me, having seldom driven any cars, other than Alfas, for 50 years. I had a special passion for the latter and will until the day I leave this crust. It is not a rational phenomenon.

However, driving the Baleno has made me think: “Here is a car that I would gladly end my driving days in.”

This was a Nexa blue model, with a 1.4 fuel-injected engine. This car I fell for, within hours of driving it. It is designed in a way that no one needs to be able to operate a space shuttle to know what you are doing, and how to do it when driving. The quintessential thing about it, for me, is that it is most suitable for elderly people, like myself, to use. It has a rear view camera for those who, again like myself, have some difficulty in turning their head around, to see out of the back window.

I admit to driving the car with some care and did not push it to any extremes, but it used a mere 5.4 litres of petrol every 100km (and that was town driving). It is sufficiently nippy in traffic and has all the power an ordinary driver would need.

But what I liked most about it is its bubble-like streamlined shape and the fact that it drives as if one is in a bubble, moving through an airless environment, with hardly any suspension knock. I loved this car - it is certainly a worthy choice for us more elderly types. The 5-speed gearbox is a mere flip to use and the gear changes are fluid.

When the car I presently have goes and, given any further years added to my driving lifespan, the Baleno will be top of my list as a car to buy.

Saturday Star

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