IAIN ROBERTSON

It is a year since a brand new Baleno entered the motoring life of Iain Robertson and, as is typical, time has flown but his appreciation for the product remains undiminished.

As a measure of how busy my life has been in the past few weeks since the 11th report on the Suzuki, I have struggled to find the time to write the 12th one! Thankfully, it has been a period of extensive mileage, with a string of four days during which the car ran up almost a thousand miles, not one of which was anything less than a delight to drive.

Yet, in early-September, that ruddy Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) played up again, necessitating an 80-miles round-trip to Cropleys Suzuki (my supplying dealer of choice, at Frith Bank, near Boston, Lincolnshire). Without issuing any clues, the TPMS flashed-up its usual warning of ‘Low Tyre Pressure’ on the small information screen located between the speedometer and rev-counter. While this annoying occurrence seemed to have some purpose on past occasions, this time it was as senseless as it ever could have been, mainly because it stated that all of the tyres were inflated at the correct pressures!

The problem is, when the TPMS is flagging-up warnings, it makes the rest of the information display redundant…no other readings are possible and the continuous nature of it, which states that action must be taken, is accompanied by an insistent red flashing display and an amber warning triangle. I rushed it to the dealership, without making an appointment, at 8.00am on a Saturday. Sympathetic, as ever, the service receptionist dealt with the issue before I even had time to finish my cup of coffee.

The TPMS on other car makes is far less problematic and can even be re-programmed by the operator. A dealer is required to reset the Suzuki system, which adds to the annoyance factor, because even if the system is telling the truth, adjusting the pressures will not erase the warning. While I welcome the safety benefit of TPMS, I am aware that it has been causing Suzuki owners more than a few moments of concern. I might take an axe to it, next time…

Due to pressure of work, I have been unable to spare the car to have its new door rubbing strips applied, which are sitting in the stores at Cropleys and will need an hour, or so, for the task. Hopefully, I shall be able to do that very soon, probably around the time of refitting the low-temperature Kumho tyres, which are sure to kick-start the TPMS again. I just cannot wait!

I have noticed that Baleno is susceptible to receiving annoying dents and dings almost every time I park the car at the supermarket, outside the station and even in the courtyard outside my home. Small though they may be, I shall have to invest in a ‘Dents Away’ service at some point in the future to remove them. I have now spotted around seven such blemishes, which for somebody possessing my level of ‘OCD’ is seven too many. The side rubbing strips will help, I hope, although they do arise from Suzuki’s weight-shedding measures, which seem like an unfair trade-off.

Apart from a regular hand-wash and mini-valet carried out by my local Latvians (or Lithuanians, I cannot truly tell the difference), Baleno is still looking pristine after eleven-plus months on the road, suggesting that there are no issues with the quality of its paintwork. The pewter grey finish does look very classy and is resisting stoically the sap dropped onto it by trees located adjacent to my home. Thankfully, the Auto-Glym polish is providing decent protection from nature’s most intense efforts to mar it.

My fuel economy seems to have settled at around 58.5mpg, although it has enjoyed a few trips at more than 65mpg average. I should point out that I seldom spare the horses, frequently cruising at an indicated 75-80mph, which requires no more than around 2,600rpm. The three-cylinder, one-litre BoosterJet petrol engine never feels strained and can pull from as low as 1,000rpm (29mph) in fifth gear. These aspects are immensely satisfying and underline the values prevalent to Suzuki engineering, never more so than when I have passengers on-board, who are seldom less than astounded by the Baleno’s performance envelope.

The car’s handling is also entertaining and throttle adjustable, while high grip levels, even in torrential, cross-country conditions, suggest that its damping and spring rates are perfectly matched to the Suzuki’s low kerbweight. The ‘jobs to do’ in the next few weeks include the car’s first annual service, fitting the door-strips and the winter tyres, which will ready Baleno for whatever the weather throws at it over the next few months. Apart from the wretched TPMS, life with Baleno is a comfortable haven of joy and actually very easy.

Costs incurred:

£193 month eleven finance payment

6,345 miles on odometer (£113.77 spent on Shell 5-star petrol to fill the tank in September)

£21.60 in-car tidy

(£316 for four x Kumho WP51 Winter tyres, to be refitted soon)

(£200 for incident damage repair, front bumper, yet to be effected).

 

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).