Bye, bye Baleno! Suzuki Australia cancels best-selling car

Bye, bye Baleno!  Suzuki Australia cancels best-selling car

Suzuki Australia has taken the extraordinary measure of scrapping its most popular model.

No, not the Jimny – which is arguably the most in-demand vehicle the brand sells – but the dropped star in question is the Baleno city car, which has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the brand’s range for years, and in 2022 Suzuki’s most popular car, accounting for more than 38.5 percent of sales through the end of July, with 5,028 units sold.

So why on earth would the brand make such a decision? And especially when you consider that there is a facelifted Baleno that has just launched in other markets.

Michael Pachota, general manager of Suzuki Australia, said: CarsGuide that the brand will not launch the facelifted model, as the Indian-built car no longer meets customer expectations.

“The Baleno released in India earlier this year was purposely designed to serve those Asian markets,” he said. “The specs, at least for the Indian market, would probably not meet the standard needed for the Australian launch of a new model in 2023. That’s why we decided to channel everything in Swift for the light segment.”

Pachota explained that the Baleno has filled a gap for the brand in recent years, mainly because the previous sales leader, Swift, had a hard time securing supplies. Baleno, hailing from India, had a more readily available throughput, while the Japanese-built Swift was harder to come by.

“Especially now that Swift is improving our offering, the Japanese product has been hit hard. Specifically that product line since 2017,” he said.

“That is why we have been channeling everything towards Baleno since about mid-2018, from 2019. So now that Swift will be more abundant in the second half of 2022, Baleno will step back. In fact, we sold so well with that car that we actually ran out faster than we thought we would.

As such, there are only a few hundred copies of the Baleno left in stock in Australia.

“We’ve made a sort of ‘last round’ model called the Shadow Series,” Pachota said, saying there are 300 units that are only in white or silver and will include a few key extras to keep the Baleno through. its run-out period.

However, Pachota also said that Shadow Series will be rolled out to the rest of the product range, with the changes essentially amounting to a “black pack” of accessories, wheels, body kits, decals and more.

Pachota said the company was fortunate to have a situation where it could offer customers two different types of light hatchbacks at relatively close prices, although he admits the brand needs to remain competitive at the point of entry into the market. Baleno had a starting price of $18,490 plus on-road costs, while the Swift range starts above $20k (GL Navigator manual for $20,490 plus on-road costs).

That leaves only the Suzuki Ignis under twenty grand – something that could be a serious problem for a brand Pachota describes itself as a ‘specialist in small cars and affordable cars’. The Ignis GL’s basic manual costs $19,490 plus on-road costs.

Pachota said the current Swift will fill the gap left by Baleno, before the next-generation Swift takes things to another level for the brand when it launches in 2024.