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Launched late last year the new Suzuki Baleno was a pleasant surprise when it arrived at the office. Once I looked at the price – which starts at R199 900 – I realised just how much bang for your buck this Suzuki has to offer.

The Suzuki Baleno GLX is a good looking introduction to the range and is powered by an aspirated 1.4 litre 5-speed powertrain, which is the same as in it’s Swift and Ciaz siblings.

Some might say it’s slightly underpowered for its size, but I found it is very well balanced, especially when you take into  consideration the development that went into making the body more lightweight. They achieved this by reducing joints and unnecessary components. The fuel efficiency with the smaller engine produces an average fuel economy of 5.1 litres/100km, which is what I managed to get when running around town.

The driving experience is very pleasant and the car is packed with loads of features for its price. Standard features you can expect to see in the GLX are electric windows, air-conditioning, cruise control ABS, airbags (including side impact bags), parking sensors and an in-dash DVD Multimedia 6.2” touchscreen display with playback. You also get Bluetooth integration with supported voice calling, and control for iPod/iPhone and supported Android smartphones. The Pioneer AppRadio and AppRadioLIVE feature also allows you to integrate mapping (Waze), media (including photos), news information, and calendar events in one synchronised platform.

With all these creature comforts and ample room inside the car’s cabin, along with comfy seating, the Baleno just beckons for a great weekend away. It boasts “best-in-class” boot space with 355 litres available. The rear seats have plenty of leg and shoulder room, and adults can ride comfortably in the back. I would be a little cautious to overload the car, as too much weight might just put a little too much strain on the uphills, which would stretch the 1.4 litre engine.

Overall I would say the design of the car is what caught my eye. The performance, thanks to it’s new generation platform, is good. If it’s a comfortable ride with economy and efficiency that you ‘re after, then why not try it out for yourself?