Those chrome door handles say it all.

On one hand, they’re a statement of Suzuki’s ambition to expand into new territory with the new Baleno, which is desperately trying to be more mature, rounded, usable and sophisticated than any supermini we’ve seen before from the Japanese manufacturer.

Spacious, nippy and well-priced Suzuki lacks usual dynamic flair

And yet they’re also symbolic of a model that’s been over-decorated and undercooked – one that has so many of the trimmings of a classy European equivalent but lacks much of the material quality and vital engineering substance.

A fine engine, a practical cabin and boot, a high equipment level and a low price may be all the Baleno needs to convince the modest required number of British buyers each year to get their money out – but we suspect they won’t be queuing to do so for long.

To us, the fact that the car misses out on the poised and agile ride and handling to match its peppy performance makes it feel somewhat unworthy of its maker’s efforts, as does the fact that it’s also largely unsuccessful as a more refined and mature small car.

Hence why the Baleno doesn’t make our top five falling behind the MG 3, Vauxhall Corsa, Hyundai i20, Skoda Fabia and Ford Fiesta three-cylinder equivalents.


Top 5 Superminis


Find an Autocar review

Find an Autocar car review