Suzuki Baleno

Garwin Beukes - When it comes to Suzuki, the brand isn't that established yet in Namibia such as many of its counterparts. However it caters to a market which might not want to be associated with the mainstream brands, but are keen for something new and exciting.

On that note, if you're somebody with a sporty personality, then the Suzuki Baleno is THE car for you. The hatchback sports various contour lines on its exterior design, with round edges to give a sleek and jaunty feel.

Although the Baleno seems quite small on the outside, the interior has lush and spacious design. Sadly, the materials on the inside lack a bit of refinement and elegance, with the off-grey plastic buttons making you feel like you're in a car from the olden days. Suzuki could have put more effort with regard to this, in my own opinion.

The seats are extremely comfortable though, and the Baleno offers a touch screen infotainment system along with a multi-functional steering wheel. With stop/start push function, climate control and various other functions, the Baleno isn't that far behind in terms of technology and comfort and can definitely start to play with some of the big boys.

The greater pleasure comes in the driving, but again I must mention a few unfortunate aspects. The clutch offers very little resistance when pressed down, making it feel almost airy. The same can be said while shifting gears, making you feel unsure.

Despite this, the Baleno is an enjoyable car to drive. It accelerates quite quickly, has agility which is especially necessary when dodging Windhoek taxis; you don't feel the road or the speed you're going, while the Baleno blocks out all external noises.

The 1.4l engine is designed to maximize energy efficiency and increase running power for an invigorating and stimulating driving experience. The intake VVT, cylinder head, and piston crowns are designed to keep your fuel economy at an optimum, enhanced and supported by a great aerodynamic body.

The Baleno is available in a 5-speed manual transmission, with a smooth and precise shift feel and optimal gear ratios that benefit fuel-economy. A 4-speed automatic transmission is available for the GLX grade

According to Suzuki, the cabin is also protected in the event of a collision by a body structure that efficiently absorbs and disperses shocks from the front, side, and rear. The bonnet panel, cowl top, wipers, and bumpers all contribute to this safety consideration.

Safety aspects are also assisted by the light, shock-absorbing TECT Body and Airbag System which uses SRS airbags for the driver and passenger seats, and the GLX grade adds SRS side airbags, and SRS curtain airbags to provide outstanding protection for vehicle occupants.