Suzuki Baleno GLX Turbo

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UPDATED: 04/02/2019

SUZUKI Australia has dropped the 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre turbo-petrol ‘Boosterjet’ three-cylinder engine, and consequently the six-speed automatic transmission, from its languishing Baleno light car range.

Part of a model year revision for the Baleno range that is available to order from February 1, the refreshed hatchback will be available with a single engine, as the top-grade GLX switches to the 68kW/130Nm 1.4-litre atmo unit found in the base GL variants.

Along with 14kW/30Nm less under the bonnet, the move to the four-pot means two fewer forward ratios, as the only automatic on offer is an ageing four-speed transmission. Brakes, too, may go from four-wheel discs to drums in the rear.

As a result, the GLX is now priced from $18,990 plus on-road costs, while the manual and automatic GL continue to cost $15,990 and $16,990 respectively.

According to Suzuki Australia general manager of automobiles Michael Pachota, streamlining the Baleno range is designed to stoke interest in the series, which endured a 20.1 per cent sales slide to 2071 last year due to increased competition from both outside and within the company.

“Our Swift sales have increased significantly in that light segment, to which customers who come in for a Baleno and see a Swift in the showroom go ‘wow!’,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Jimny off-road SUV in Melbourne last week.

“That’s one point. Our second is that, with the huge growth of the small SUVs, we started channelling our direction more so on the SUV side of things, trying to capture some of that market as well with our own products.

“But we won’t leave the light car segment … we believe the Baleno has a big opportunity this year. It will have a new offering that takes the whole range under the $20,000 mark, since we will drop the turbo.”

Additionally, Mr Pachota believes that the old Baleno GLX Turbo priced from $21,990 plus on-road costs put it perilously close to the base Vitara. 

“As fantastic as the turbo was, unfortunately in that price range customers are spoilt for choice, and as light car buyers are moving and shifting to the small SUV segment, our small Vitara entry level model creeps just above that Baleno Turbo GLX offering,” he said. 

“We decided that the GLX doesn’t really need the turbo engine since it takes it up to the (Vitara) price point, and that a GLX with the 1.4 atmo engine brings it under the $20K mark.”

Last year, the Baleno finished third in Suzuki’s line-up behind the bestselling Swift at 7785 units (up 19.6%) and Vitara at 5023 sales (down 13.5%). 

The changes to the revised Baleno range will precede a minor facelift that has just been announced for the Indian-made five-seater hatchback in other markets, though its arrival in Australia has yet to be determined. 

Among the changes are new headlights, a wider grille, redesigned bumpers, restyled tail-lights, an upgraded multimedia system, improved safety and refinement, and what some reports are claiming “a higher quality interior”.

However, it is unlikely we will see the Baleno facelift before the fourth quarter of this year.

In the interim, optional Stargaze Blue paintwork has joined the Baleno five-strong colour palette.

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