Suzuki New Zealand has confirmed it is taking the Baleno but is saying no more than that.
SMALL car specialist Suzuki has confirmed it will soon start selling an additional compact car, the reborn Baleno, but is still being vague about the exact launch schedule and won’t comment on pricing and specification.
The Wanganui-based distributor says the model, which is already on sale in Japan and India, will be here in the second half of the year.
Resurrecting a name last used here during the 1990s, the model is now a hatchback set to sit above the brand’s Swift, still its best selling passenger road car despite having lost considerable sales ground to used import equivalents.
Suzuki NZ has previously explained its view is to pitch Baleno as a replacement for the now defunct SX4 five-door which, though developed as a crossover, nonetheless found most favour here with hatchback buyers, not only in the private sector but also fleets.
This was not mentioned in comment offered by the firm today. Rather Gary Collins, the marketing general manager, focused on the car’s potential to “break new ground in fuel efficiency and cost of ownership in the small car segment.
“It will be complementary to our Swift range and a great step-up for customers wanting more space,” he said.
Exact specifications and pricing are being kept under wraps for now, including if it will be offered with Suzuki's new-generation Boosterjet turbo-petrol engine. This is produced in 82kW/170Nm 1.0-litre unit and 103kW/220Nm 1.4-litre formats but a sticking point has been that both have been presented, in other markets at least, with a direct shift transmission that Suzuki here is wary about. There’s belief the customer base might be more comfortable with an orthodox automatic – a gearbox that only comes with other, older-gen engines.
Infotainment will be a key selling point for the Baleno, and Suzuki has announced that it will be offered with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display that includes satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Baleno has a 355 litre boot, which is larger than the Toyota Corolla's and the Mazda3 hatch and significantly more spacious than the Swift.
Suzuki says it utilised similar weight-saving techniques employed in the development of the Vitara for the Baleno, resulting in what it calls an “ultra- light small hatch”.
Baleno is larger than Swift in most dimensions, but not massively. At 3995mm in length, it has a 145mm advantage while the 2520mm wheelbase represents a 90mm gain.