Running a Suzuki Baleno as a business car has already proven to be an exercise in both sufficiency and efficiency, reports Iain Robertson, and any fears that a small engine might be a mistake can be all but ignored, as it has been totally satisfying.
Although the first early-morning frosts have already coated the car in fine crystals, it has been so unseasonably ‘warm’ that, by the time I need to drive the car, most of it has disappeared. Of course, it does not mean that damp, tree-lined corners harbour anything less than a potential incident-waiting-to-happen, so I do take extra care, when venturing onto the public highway.
You may recall that I normally have a set of winter tyres fitted to the car. However, I have shunned the £75 dealer swap rate (£34 at a tyre centre!) in favour of continuing to review the Bridgestone Turanza T005 ‘summer’ tyres over the winter period, having driven on them since March. Part of my logic lies in the fact that, when I first tested the tyres at a chilly and damp Donington Park (where the air temperature was seldom above seven degrees Centigrade), their performance was simply remarkable.
They are not promoted as a ‘winter cover’ and their tread pattern, while ‘blocky’, is not what I would call snow, or slush-shedding, in the way of typical winter tyres. Naturally, snow has been long-term forecasted but, as we know from previous years, whatever falls is unlikely to remain for much longer than a couple of days…although it will be slightly different in the Highlands of Scotland, the English Lakes, the Welsh Mountains and high spots in Ireland.
So far, their sub-10 degrees performance (the point at which I would recommend fitting winter tyres) has been little less than gripping. I am hopeful that my through-winter test will shed some decent results. The use of winter, or low-temperature, tyres, which has never been mandated in the UK, is still a relatively small uptake rate. Of course, several parts of Europe, where it is against the law not to fit them, could introduce an unwanted fine to UK travellers to the ski-slopes and, with the ‘Brexit’ situation, you can be almost certain that some police forces will take action against UK-plated vehicles not wearing them. It is just a thought.
While chammying-off the car after last week’s regular wash, I was able to assess any stone-chips (of which there are very few) and minor dings in the bodywork. I am delighted that I had a set of lower door trims fitted quite early in the car’s life, because I am certain that there would have been considerably more teensy but annoying dents in the door panels than there are. I have learned NOT to lean on the car at any time, for fear of a trouser back-pocket button inflicting damage. When visiting the supermarket car park, I try to avoid the crowded areas but is it not amazing how, wherever you park, somebody always parks right next door?
Baleno continues to run sweetly and potently. A recent test session with a 1.0-litre Vitara, which uses the same engine and manual gearbox, proved to me that Suzuki has built one of the best 1.0-litre ‘triples’ in today’s new car scene. No matter what is demanded of it, it delivers handsomely and frugally. A recent, unintentionally speedy drive to and from the West Midlands returned an outstanding 59.9mpg on the car’s fairly accurate on-board computer. As you may recall, I have attained over 67.3mpg in the past, travelling at a steadier rate.
Finally, my ‘winter box’ is now stowed in the boot. I use a proprietary cargo net (actually, I bought it when I had my Skoda Citigo) to stop it sliding across the boot carpet. While I hope not to use it, it contains a blanket, my welly-boots, an extra pair of woollen socks, a chocolate bar, a fully-charged flashlight, a warm hooded jacket, a bottle of water and a pair of mitts. Following our past blistering summer, the odds are on that this winter might be quite severe. I urge you to follow suit, because it is better to be armed for the worst conditions than not at all.
More on business life with a Suzuki Baleno in a month’s time.
£193 month 24 finance payment
15,412 miles on odometer
£21.60 in-car tidy
£112.60 door rubbing strips
£206.01 first service charge (£65 hourly labour rate); £196.10 for second service.
£200 for front bumper replacement
(£316 for four x Kumho WP51 Winter tyres, now stored in readiness for a third winter but replaced by a set of Bridgestone Turanza T005s - £288.96 + £33.98 fitting - for the next year)