The Boosterjet is a little cracker. It revs freely and pulls strongly from 2000rpm, buzzing away pleasantly with an ever-present triple-cylinder rasp. Stretch it beyond 5000rpm and it gets a little raucous, but not enough to stop the enjoyment of giving it a darn good thrashing.
Suzuki doesn’t have any acceleration times but it feels somewhere in the region of 10.5sec to 62mph, but don’t quote me on that.
Part of the reason it feels so quick is that the Baleno is built on a new lightweight platform, and as a result weighs next to nothing. It tips the scales at 905kg, which is more than 200kg less than a Fiesta.
That means it’s not only sprightly off the line but also agile in the bends. Okay, it’s no Fiesta, but it grips well and stays relatively flat right up to the point that the front tyres start to slide.
The steering is pretty accurate as well, although there’s not much feel. You also get a bit of kick-back when you hit a sharp mid-bend ridge. As the dampers struggle to control this sudden vertical movement it sends a thud through the cabin and causes the Baleno to skip momentarily off its line.
Away from such sharp intrusions the ride is very well controlled. There’s an inherent softness to the damping that allows it to cruise over speed bumps while alowing it to stay calm over patchy surfaces.
Mind you, the suspension is quite noisy at times and refinement in general isn’t a Baleno strength. Our car was the five-speed manual version, and the lack of a sixth gear (a six-speed automatic is available) means on motorways you can always hear the engine in the background, although the constant flurry of wind noise around the windscreen and door mirrors is the main bugbear.
Where the Baleno is strong, however, is on cabin space. I’m 6ft 3in and had all the head and leg room I needed up front. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, and there’s a driver’s seat height adjuster. Even with this on its lowest setting the driving position is quite high, but you get used to it after a mile or two.
In the rear it beats most superminis for leg room and probably isn’t far off the Tardis-like Honda Jazz. Head room isn’t as good as the Honda's, but it's still more than acceptable, while there’s enough width across the rear bench to squeeze three abreast if you need to.
The boot is equally voluminous at 355 litres. That’s generous enough for several large shopping bags, although to get them in you'll have to lift them over a high load-lip. There's underfloor storage, too, and if you have the false floor in its upper setting, it gives you a flat-ish load deck with the split rear seats folded down.
Other than the Volkswagen Polo, most superminis feel a bit plasticky inside. Even in this context the Baleno is a bit naff in places, with some pretty cheap-feeling plastics and switchgear. But something has got to give if it's going to get all that lavish equipment the man from Suzuki talked about.
Speaking of which, the touchscreen infotainment system can be a bit slow to react at times, and some of the buttons are needlessly small and tricky to hit when you’re on the move. But it’s perfectly serviceable, and even I managed to programme an address into the sat-nav and pair my phone in seconds, so you should have no problem.
It’s all set-up with Apple Car Play and Mirror Link too, so you can operate your smartphone direct from the screen if you wish.