IAIN ROBERTSON 

Pre-repair blemish

Finally, he’s had the lower bumper repair carried out on his car, although Iain Robertson opted for a full bumper replacement, no less than 16 months after clashing (just) with a discarded truck tyre carcass, when Baleno was two days old.

The sense of dread attached to putting a blemish on a brand-new car is immense. I was distraught, all because some ‘Knight of the Road’ had suffered a blown tyre and could not be arsed to stroll back and remove the debris…which is what I hit with the lower front bumper of my car. For what it is worth, when flipping a metaphorical coin for repair, or replacement, with a negligible cost difference and the fact that no insurance claiming was being done (I am keen to retain my low-cost policy), an arithmetical sum fell in favour of the latter.

With six bolts and four trim fasteners to release, the task could not have been easier and Suzuki’s technician completed it in less than fifteen minutes, the bumper having been prepped and paint-sprayed in advance, thus saving even more in labour charges (£200 all-in). My fears about the little body ‘dings’ have been allayed somewhat, with the knowledge that Suzuki has a ‘man-who-removes-dents’ both effectively and inexpensively and it is probably better to wait until the car is due to be replaced in 26 months’ time, before effecting those teensy (if annoying) repairs.

The fantastic Kumho WP51 Winter tyres have been earning their keep this year (the second winter they have been applied to Baleno). With daily temperatures seldom rising above 5-degreesC and frequent early morning frosts on non-salted country roads to deal with, the levels of grip have been little less than ‘superglue’. On more than one occasion, I have spotted other motorists enduring skiddy fun-and-frolics ahead of me, while I have felt totally secure and safe. I cannot recommend them highly enough and, as they neither compromise the car’s performance, nor its fuel economy, and they are not noisy on-road, it is easy to become complacent in adverse conditions.

It needs to be remembered that the Kumhos are not mud and snow covers, although they have dealt admirably with light coatings of snow on the road and they clear slush and rain very effectively. The steering remains crisp and responsive, while understeer is just not present, even when the roads are at their slipperiest. For added peace of mind and the fact that you can get more than three winters out of a set (at very least, as my tyres are showing only negligible signs of wear), acquiring a set of winter tyres for your car is a total no-brainer. Besides, my summer tyres are only lightly worn. They will be swapped over in around a month’s time.

Suzuki replacing bumper

Another good mileage month has seen the car returning up to 67mpg, although the average settled at around 55.4mpg, following some fairly high-speed, cross-country trips, of which more are in prospect in coming weeks. I never cease to be amazed at the Baleno’s amazing performance spread and mile-eating capabilities. The fact that a 70mph cruise is just a smidgen over 2,000rpm not only highlights the car’s high overall gearing but the lack of gear shifting also underscores its uncanny spread of torque, which is outstanding for a mere 1.0-litre displacement engine.

Recently, I have been teased about the imminent introduction of the Suzuki Swift Sport, which is not only powered by the fantastic 1.4-litre BoosterJet engine that serves outstanding purpose in my favourite family car of the moment, the Vitara S, but is also mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and the taut chassis of the new Swift. Having been given a 1/43rd scale model of the new car, I am not just looking forward to driving it officially in early May (it is set for a June public launch) but I am aching to swap my Baleno for an example. Had I not agreed to running the Baleno (which I still adore) for an unprecedented 42 months, trust me, it would be gone by this summer and a new Swift Sport would take pride of place in front of Chez Robertson!

Costs incurred:

£193 month sixteen finance payment

9,469 miles on odometer

£21.60 in-car tidy

£112.60 door rubbing strips

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

£200 for front bumper replacement

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

All done, dusted and like new!

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).