Suzuki finished 2016 with a record 38,190 UK registrations, up nearly 4,000 units on 2015. Having almost doubled its UK sales volume in five years, it strode into 2017 with a 1.42% market share.
The Vitara SUV, the Celerio and the Ignis were name-checked in Suzuki’s self-congratulatory press release, but the Baleno, its B-segment small car, doesn’t get a mention. In fact, in the monthly SMMT registration figures by model, it is bundled into ‘other’.
It also gets a bad rap on first sight. “It looks like a car you’d pick up at an Iraqi rental desk,” said one friend.
However, the current Baleno, launched last year, is a pleasant surprise. It has more interior space and a larger boot than the Swift, and the most space between rear and front seats in its class.
Prices start at £12,999 (for the SZ-T 1.0-litre manual) and for the top spec SZ5 auto it’s only £3,500 more.
The SZ-T model includes six airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, air conditioning, sat-nav, DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth, rear privacy glass, cruise control with speed limiter and front electric windows.
SZ5 (Boosterjet and the hybrid SHVS model) adds automatic climate control, rear electric windows, 4.2-inch central colour trip display, LED rear lights, adaptive cruise control and radar brake support.
For a ‘budget’ model, with sales so low they are not reported, it’s an incredible package.