IAIN ROBERTSON

Perceiving that there is an issue related to motorcar reliability, especially when the car is an indefatigable Suzuki, means that Iain Robertson is left focusing on tyres (at present) and broader driving aspects, all of which are first-rate on his Baleno.

When I sampled the Bridgestone Turanza T005 tyres at a recent event held at Donington Park, I was highly impressed by their wet weather performance. They gripped like leeches, regardless of whether the tarmac surface was just damp, or had been totally drenched. When you contemplate how much rain we endure in the UK (not just this year…the wettest on record!), equipping your car with tyres that promise a primary safety benefit ought to be a priority.

Of course, the original summer tyres fitted to my Baleno have not turned a wheel since last November and, with only 8,000-ish miles on them, they are not showing any signs of appreciable wear. Interestingly, despite replacing the first-rate Kumho Wintercraft covers in mid-April, with a full set of the aforementioned Bridgestones, even after two winters, they too are showing negligible amounts of wear, which will make them suitable for refitting next winter. Well, they would do, were I not determined to run the T005s for a full twelve months, to see how they might work as an all-season cover.

With only a fortnight’s driving on them, I can already confirm that their dry weather roadholding and grip are excellent. They are not noisy and do not screech during high-speed cornering, or tight manoeuvres. However, with the prospect of a return drive to Ireland, which entails collecting a colleague, I shall be running-up around 700-miles on a mix of motorway and cross-country (Welsh) roads over a mere 48 hours, which will make its fuel return interesting reading. Inevitably, I shall refine my opinion of the T005s somewhat. It will be a most enjoyable challenge.

Now just over a year-and-a-half old, my Suzuki, which has been living outside, under sap-dropping trees for the past ten months, needed a pre-summer (post-winter) polish. Using light-coloured soft cloths does reveal how much ingrained dirt has been affecting the paintwork and, I am happy to state, it was not much on the bodywork, which suggests that the lacquer is doing its job, although the cloths were blackened while applying polish to the alloy wheels, which is understandable. It is when carrying out this task that you appreciate the organic styling of the Baleno, which, I accept, is never going to be to everyone’s taste. The polishing cloth slides smoothly across all surfaces and, thanks to using AutoGlym’s excellent resin polish, even the dark grey roof trim and window surrounds come up like new, removing all of the white residue and traffic film easily.

I have to keep reminding myself that this Suzuki is Indian-built and not Japanese in origin, which only serves to confirm that car assembly standards in that part of the continent are more than up to anticipated, normal oriental levels. Having re-secured the rear parcel shelf, after transporting my winter tyres home, the annoying rattle I could hear, when driving Baleno recently, has now disappeared. Thank heavens. The car’s build quality remains otherwise at an excellent peak.

While I may have intimated it before, there is a lot to be said about a car that I actively enjoy driving, despite testing at least one new car every single week in the course of my work. Of course, there are better cars than a Baleno but I never hesitate to use my car, even though something swish and significantly costlier may be parked on the driveway. It is comfortable, spacious and, often, a relief to drive, not least because I never cease to be amazed at the phenomenal performance of its little 1.0-litre turbocharged engine.

Living with a Suzuki Baleno is not a chore. I am neither bored with it, nor envious of its alternatives, which bodes well for the next 24 months of long-term testing. More soon!

Costs incurred:

£193 month eighteen finance payment

10,625 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 (now completed)

(£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)

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).