The first annual service was due, the door rubbing strips had to be applied, the winter tyres fitted and it needed insurance, reports Iain Robertson, as his Baleno builds-up the miles and continues to provide high levels of driver satisfaction.

With the Suzuki’s first birthday imminent, a couple of minor administrative issues had to be dealt with. Not the least of these was a need to re-insure it. Having been very contented with the service from Allianz, I was gobsmacked to receive a reminder that was almost twice the cost of the previous fully-comprehensive premium, despite no changes in my circumstances. A brief telephone call resulted in zero reduction, which surprised me, especially as I had praised the German insurer substantially for the past four years, during which time a £1 decrease had occurred.

While I appreciate that insurance rates have fluctuated a lot in recent months, the UK market has become a major profit-centre for the majority of Lloyds’ underwritten insurers. A move to LV+ has resulted in a minor increase in premium, although 12% more is considerably less than 50%, a factor that underscores a need for regular price-checking on behalf of all insured motorists!

Lincoln Tyre & Exhaust had been home to my Kumho low-temperature tyres, mainly because of the very fine service it had provided in supplying and fitting them around a year ago. However, the on-going issues related to Suzuki’s problematic TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) meant that I was not going to test Lincoln Tyre’s humour at being unable to reset the devices after making the seasonal swap. I uplifted them and took them with me to Cropleys Suzuki, the Frith Bank, Boston-based supplying dealership of my Baleno, for the car’s first full service.

While appreciating the safety benefits of TPMS, the Suzuki system causes problems through possessing an insufficient tolerance to tyre pressure variance. As you might recall, it even registered a warning only a month ago, when ALL of the pressures were even correct! I hope sincerely that Suzuki equips future models with a smarter set of sensors and broader range of adjustability, because I know that I am not alone in feeling that it is not so much a ‘safety’ device but a major annoyance factor.

The actual service was a painless affair, although I had become accustomed to Skoda’s free service arrangements, which made the total invoice for £396.61 a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, especially as this is the first such on-cost that I have had to carry for several years. To be fair, the service aspect was £206.01, although it is the first time that I have seen the £6.00 (plus VAT) ‘Environmental Charges’ fee that motorists have to pay these days for disposal of old sump oil and grubby filters. It rankles me.

While the side rubbing strips had cost £112.60, the fitting fee was £26 (plus VAT) of the total service charge and the tyre swap added £78 (inc. VAT) to the total. Fortunately, the tyre swaps are the only repeatable on-cost for the next twelve months. The total tasks were completed in just two hours and forty-five minutes. Cropleys provided me with a free loan Swift 1.0SZ-T for the period.

Overall, I was very happy with the service and to be informed that my Baleno had been given a completely clean bill of health. Interestingly, it does seem to run more smoothly now, a tiny ‘flat-spot’ in full-throttle application having been removed and it feels sparklingly quick as well. The garage did offer to valet the car but, as I leave that hand-wash task to my local Latvians, I declined the offer. The car had averaged 59.4mpg pre-service, it should be interesting to see what it achieves post-service.

The new door rubbing-strips look particularly smart and ought to be fitted as standard equipment on the Baleno, to resist a propensity for its door panels to dent, if you happen to look at them in the wrong way! When I gave the car its pre-winter coat of polish, I noticed half-a-dozen tiny ‘dings’ that have appeared in the car’s flanks; they are very small but, for somebody possessing my level of ‘OCD’, they are too numerous.

Now into its second year of operation, I have found Baleno to be a haven of motoring comfort and ease. It spruces up beautifully and the organic flow of its body panels remains a key attraction. The number of minor ownership niggles has been few and, apart from requesting that the garage synchronise the car clock with the sat-nav (one of the downsides of factory-fitted but ‘aftermarket’ equipment), Suzuki has underscored its value-brand status to me, while also highlighting its first-rate durability. The ‘love affair’ continues…

Costs incurred:

£193 month twelve finance payment

7,572 miles on odometer (£111.56 spent on Shell 5-star petrol to fill the tank in October)

£21.60 in-car tidy

£112.60 door rubbing strips

£206.01 first service charge (£65 hourly labour rate)

(£316 for four x Kumho WP51 Winter tyres, now dealer refitted until March 2018 at a cost of £78, dealer is storing summer tyres)

(£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).