Suzuki Baleno vs Toyota Starlet Review: 1.5 GLX Manual vs 1.5 XR Manual

  Colin Windell


 5 Aug, 2022

They are the same! The latest versions of the Suzuki Baleno and Toyota Starlet have arrived on the market with identical mechanical components. Price, feature specification and styling set the cars apart.

While South Africans who grapple with duties, levies and taxes on the price of cars see far less of the effect, a collaboration between automakers is a commonplace that works toward keeping car prices in check by maximising economies of scale across the supply chain network.

Suzuki and Toyota recently released the latest versions of the Baleno and Starlet, a collaborative effort tied together by identical mechanical components. Manufactured on the same production line in India, they vary in terms of styling execution, interior feature specification, trim grades, price and warranty.

Fundamentally, the Toyota Starlet is a Suzuki Baleno under the skin.

So, what is the difference between the Toyota Starlet and Suzuki Baleno?

Engine, performance and power

A noticeable change in the latest models is the shift to a 1,5-litre engine offering 77 kW at 6 00 r/min and 138 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min.

The 1,5-litre engine has a traditional 16-valve layout and VVT-i to offer a balance of torque, willingness to rev and fuel efficiency. 

Road Test: Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX Manual vs Toyota Starlet 1.5 XR Manual

On the road, I could not find any sweeping differences or quirks that separated the two – and would probably fail a blindfold test, so alike are they. The increase in motive power improves the overall tractability of the pair – not only as urban commuters but also on the open road.

Both have light steering, perhaps a touch too light, and respond quickly to driver input on the wheel and the throttle, with the 1,5-litre engine willing to rev and get things going. I had no problems maintaining a steady 120 km/h on the highway without the need to row through the gearbox to keep the momentum going.

Predictably, both recorded overall average fuel consumption of 5,6 l/100 km during the test cycle and were pretty even on acceleration, with the Starlet going from zero to 100 km/h in 11,4 seconds and the Baleno taking 11,6 seconds.

Exterior and interior features, design and styling

For the latest generation of the Baleno, Suzuki designers stayed with what it terms ‘Liquid Flow’. They added new design elements, including an extended front air intake, a three-dimensional grille design and flowing body lines that connect with the chrome brightwork in one continuous swoop.

Inside, there are more comfortable and contoured seats with higher-grade cloth upholstery. Luxury features include a head-up display, and a full 310-degree Round View Monitor with side, front and rear-mounted cameras that display a bird’s eye view of surroundings when parking or manoeuvring at low speeds.

The GLX has LED projector-style headlamps, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch polished alloy wheels with a high-resolution 9-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system also has added Smart Vehicle Alerts and Bluetooth connectivity with steering controls.

Suzuki has added a second full-colour 4,2-inch display in the instrument cluster where the driver can view vehicle information sources.

On the Starlet, the front has a signature Toyota look with sleek LED headlamps unified by a chrome 'brow' and prominent lower air dam. 

All Starlet models come equipped with a touchscreen audio system with USB, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto interface, plus two rear USB chargers (USB-A and USB-C), automatic climate control, power-retractable mirrors, power windows and Multi-Information Display (MID).

Comfort, convenience and safety

Driver assistance boasts rear parking sensors (PDC), Hill Assist Control (HAC), Vehicle Stability Control, ABS and EBD. The airbag count comprises the driver, passenger, side, and curtain versions. ISOFIX anchor points are standard across the range.

The Starlet does not have a heads-up display or 310-degree camera. However, the two cars share identical specifications.

Powertrain, dimensions and load capacity

Both models have an overall length of 3 990 mm on a wheelbase of 2 520 mm. While the wheelbase is similar to its predecessors, the pair has a revised suspension, steering and drivetrain designed to offer a more engaging ride. The patented Suzuki TECT safety shell and platform are now even more rigid despite the reduced weight.

The suspension sees changes to the torsion beam at the rear, new coil springs all-round and recalibrated dampening in conjunction with an additional 20 mm of suspension travel.

The suspension changes come with an increase in tyre width of 10 mm versus the outgoing models, and the new variants upgraded to 195/55/R16 specification.

The luggage area can store up to 314 litres with a full-sized spare wheel. With the 60:40 split seats folded forward, the available storage space jumps to 1 057 litres.

Warranty, maintenance and service plan

The Baleno trades with a 5-year / 200 000 km, a 4-year / 60 000 km service plan and an anti-corrosion warranty of 6 years and unlimited kilometres.

The Starlet has a complimentary 3-services/45 000 km service plan and a 3-year/100 000 km warranty.

Wrapping it up

In conclusion, the buyer’s choice will likely come down to brand preference, even with the marked difference in pricing that favours the Baleno.


Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX Manual 
Toyota Starlet 1.5 Xr Manual 
R275 000
R294 900

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