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Road test: Suzuki Baleno

By Roger St. Pierre with Hazel Kempster

Petrol head? We politely suggest you skip this one.

If, on the other hand, you are simply interested in finding something to get you from A to B cheaply, reliably and in relative comfort, then carry on reading: the Suzuki Baleno supermini could be just what you are looking for.

Like a serving of sushi, this Japanese offering provides a lot in a small package. It is only marginally bigger than the company’s long serving Swift but, thanks to clever use of space, it not only provides far more generous rear seat legroom but a surprisingly cavernous boot, capable of swallowing more than 300 litres worth of your goods and chattels.

At the same time, standard equipment levels are high when compared with the opposition, with sat/nav, DAB radio Bluetooth connection and efficient air-conditioning all part of the deal.

Pay a little more and an upgraded package will give you keyless entry and starting, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

Two power trains are available. First there’s the three cylinder 1.0-ltre supercharged Boosterjet, which is quite punchy in its power delivery, yet is economical when it comes to fuel consumption. Then there’s a 1.2 ltre hybrid that has a slightly bigger displacement but is even more economical, with a claimed 70.6 mpg capability.

The Baleno rides well, provides reassuring steering response and demonstrates plenty of grip. It may not exactly be fun to drive but on the other hand it does help take the stress out of the exercise.

Judged all-round, the Baleno compares well with such rivals as the Citroen C3, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Micra and Skoda Fabia. On the road prices for the four model Baleno range run from £13,499 up to £14,500.

It’s just a shame that, for now anyway, there is no diesel version available.

It’s certainly not an exciting car nor in any way luxurious but if that A to B criteria runs true with you then the Baleno should be considered very seriously when you make your purchasing choice.

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