The need to differentiate the Baleno – to give it a dynamic brief unique among its range mates and allow those who promote and sell it an easy shorthand in defining and describing it in contrast to what’s parked next to it in the showroom – seems rather to have removed the jam from the donut of its driving experience.
Had this car handled like a larger, more practical and better-engined Swift, it might have been one of the best additions to the supermini set we’ve seen so far this year.
Instead, it’s a more softly sprung car with lighter and calmer steering and an easier-going low-speed ride but very little of the directional eagerness of its smaller sibling.
As a result, not only is it a damp squib as a car for keener drivers, but it’s also questionable if the way that the Baleno is tuned really makes it any more refined or easy to drive.
As Suzuki will have discovered here, refinement is a difficult and expensive trait to engineer into any car – particularly a small, lightweight one – and it takes a great deal more than retuned suspension to produce it.
As a result, while the Baleno’s primary ride is quite gentle, the car doesn’t feel particularly supple or compliant, because it has poorer than average shock absorption and wheel control and its rolling chassis doesn’t seem very carefully bushed.