1999 Suzuki Baleno GS Hatch 1.6i 16v from UK and Ireland
Well equipped, reliable car, for those who value their individuality
New alternator needed after worn bearings started to produce a whining noise (40,000 miles).
Water ingress through driver's side door seal during heavy rain, rectified by hinge adjustment, though the door now needs a firm push in order to close properly.
Courtesy light cover did fall off 1 or 2 times, but easily re-located & has since stayed put.
Standard horn (borrowed from a motorcycle) was pathetic, but replaced with a more meaty two-tone kit from Halfords, which the dealer fitted free of charge.
The level of standard equipment for the price was what sold me the car, coupled with the refreshingly different appearance. It had so much more character than comparably priced peers.
Most of the interior space is devoted to the front two seats, which is bad news for families, but makes sense if you don't often carry passengers and contributes to the 'bigger car' feel.
The steering wheel is archaically thin, but the dash is aesthetically pleasing & standard sports seats are supportive in all areas except the lumbar region.
Performance is lively enough if you can manage to resist the urge to change up earlier than necessary. The engine revs surprisingly high in 5th, which is great for making progress, but irritatingly noisy if you just want to cruise at 70mph or more.
Handling was initially disappointing, especially in the wet, until I had new tyres fitted (Michelins), which miraculously transformed the level of grip & feel.
The Baleno is popular amongst modifiers, but in standard guise makes an ideal 'next step' for a younger driver, looking to trade up to something moderately exciting, without breaking the bank.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 23rd December, 2004