Sprint Review: 2021 Suzuki Baleno GLX

Be honest now, did you know about Suzuki’s practical Baleno before it spawned a twin?

You should know: I feel a bit sorry for the Suzuki Baleno for two reasons. Firstly, it bumbles along in a declining hatchback vehicle segment and secondly, it’s now bopping in the wake of Toyota rebadging it as one of their own. The Starlet’s relatively superior sales success is concrete proof of local buying trends…

More info: The Baleno is a medium-sized hatchback with gutsy 1.4L naturally-aspirated engine, 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto gearbox, as well as a choice of two trim levels. I test-drove the higher-spec GLX manual model for a quick tour around Namibia’s capital city.

What else? What immediately impressed me were the car’s rounded and stylish design, spacious and modern-looking cabin, plus a comfortable set of chairs. This is complemented by a fairly soft ride, super-light steering response and easy-to-operate gears ‘n pedals.

Read: the Baleno is a breeze to drive.

Why you shouldn’t: If outright performance is your thing, best look elsewhere. Although I was slightly impressed by its mid-range torque at high altitude, the Baleno is nowhere near as punchy as its (often more expensive) rivals. For overtaking attempts, I highly recommend using all of the willing engine’s 6,300rpm.

Why you should: Being a modern Suzuki, this R260,000 vehicle represents excellent bang-for-your-buck when compared to others of its ilk. Keyless entry & start, fancy climate control, reverse camera, all modern connectivity solutions, leather-clad steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and cruise control are just some of the highlights.

The manufacturer claims 5.1L/100km average fuel use from the 37L tank and I suspect that it’s highly plausible; or even pessimistic. Included in the price are a 3-year/100,000km warranty and a 4-year/60,000km service plan.

And the final benefit: our Namibian dealership staff is super-friendly!


Engine:1.4L i-4 petrol
Transmission:5-speed Manual, FWD
Max. Power:68kW
Max. Torque:130Nm
Avg. cons.:Claimed 5.1
0-100km/h:Claimed 10.9
Top Speed:Claimed 175km/h
List Price:R259,900

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