Because of the number of jobs I’ve had in the car business my bride of 50 years has had many opportunities behind the wheel of various test cars, company cars, her own cars, and friends’ cars.
I value her opinion, because she doesn’t have an agenda. She looks at every car as if she were sizing it up to buy for herself, so her analysis is honed to looking for the essential elements which attract, or are a turn-off.
Before returning the Suzuki Baleno, she took the zippy little hatchback for a spin, but given her basic love for European cars and their sporty overtones, Baleno had a lot to live up to.Her daily driver is a smart little Peugeot 207 XT. She loves driving it, but it has been a bit trouble-prone.
Consequently we often evaluate new cars as a possible replacement for the Pug. However, despite some ticks of approval, the Suzuki didn’t quite make the cut.
LIKES: Goes well, very perky engine. Excellent fit and tight margins, comfortable seats, very smooth transmission. Excellent fuel economy.
The incredible amount of interior space, given the external dimensions; and very nice exterior styling.
DOWNERS: 95 RON petrol, no way! Heavy steering. Far too much tyre noise, and a hard ride. Subtle vibrations in the steering. Handling not anything like sporty; ponderous when you point into a corner. Interior trim tough and brittle - no comparison to European style, and finish.
OVERALL: Nice, but unsurprisingly she preferred a Renault Clio or Peugeot 208. We talked price, and the reply was: “At $22,990 that’s probably okay, especially with the GPS, Bluetooth, interior space etc., but not incredible value for money in such a hot market, especially up against Hyundai i30 at twenty grand driveaway.”