SUZUKI has entered the high tech world of hybrid motoring with what they call a mild hybrid system in the new Baleno that improves the fuel efficiency of the car and reduces CO2 emmissions below 100g/km which means there is no road tax to pay.
The new system is known as SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) and comprises an integrated starter generator which acts as both a generator and starter motor that assists the engine during take off and acceleration and also generates electricity through regenerative braking.
It also uses a compact lithium-ion battery placed under the front passenger seat to store energy and incorporates an idle stop function which allows the SHVS system to only use the conventional starter motor when first started from cold and under all other conditions uses the higher voltage ISG unit for smooth and quiet engine restarts.
The Baleno which is built in India is a five door hatchback larger than the Swift and the hybrid model is powered by a 1.2-litre Dualjet four cylinder petrol engine that offers a combined fuel consumption of 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km - top speed is 111mph and 0 to 62mph takes 12.3 seconds.
Baleno has conservative styling but it still has considerable street appeal and it should be attractive especially to Swift owners who want a slightly larger car rather than considering something from another manufacturer and thus remaining within the Suzuki family which has enjoyed growing appeal in the UK.
The Baleno 1.2 SHVS SZ5 which costs £13,499 on the road is available only with the top SZ5 specification that means it is loaded with standard kit including a seven inch touch screen, 16-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, sat nav, DAB radio, automatic climate control, central colour trip display and radar brake support which helps prevent colliding with vehicles in front.
Frontal styling looks quite classy and I was impressed by the roomy and comfortable interior and the large rear load area that all combine as stated earlier to make the Baleno especially the hybrid model quite an attractive buy in this market sector.
The engine has plenty of punch and I found the five speed manual transmission linked well and while some potential owners may be surprised it is not a six speed gearbox on the road at higher speeds the fifth gear is quite adequate and I was not looking for a sixth gear at any time.
Instrumentation is quite user friendly and I particularly liked the central colour display panel which clearly indicated functions like the average fuel consumption and range that I really appreciated.
Fuel consumption is an important factor in this hybrid Suzuki and the display unit indicated that this could be up to around 60mpg which is about 10mpg less than the combined figure but nevertheless an impressive real world return. Baleno prices start at £12,999 for the SZ-T which has the 1.0-litre three cylinder Boosterjet engine and a much lower specification level but it offers the same roomy interior and load area as the other models.
However, the mild hybrid model as tested which is about £500 more expensive has lower overall running costs and all that standard equipment which makes it a tempting target for potential Baleno owners especially those who are hybrid enthusiasts.
Model: Suzuki Baleno 1.2 SHVS SZ5.
Engine: 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol.
Output: 90PS @ 6000rpm. Transmission: 5 speed manual.
Top speed: 111mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 12.3 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 70.6mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 94g/km.