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Suzuki Swift, Baleno & Jimny are award winners in year-end awards

Suzuki has taken out three 2019 New Zealand motor industry awards with accolades going to the popular Swift Sport, Baleno and Jimny models.

The highly commended Swift Sport hatchback emerged victorious in the Best in Class Micro/Light Car in the latest AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year awards announced in December.

Driven motoring writer Matthew Hansen said the Swift Sport was “incredibly impressive and incredibly fast” and that the Suzuki scored more votes from Driven’s panel of expert judges than the other two podium getters in the class, the Audi A1 and Volkswagen Polo.

“Priced at $28,990 for the manual variant, it’s by a mile the most fun you can have for under thirty grand - even forty,” said Hansen. “The Swift is one of the least expensive cars that has radar cruise control and autonomous emerging braking as standard.”

“It feels incredibly quick, with its stiff platform and 968 kg mass helping underline one of the best power-to-weight ratios in the business,” he said.

Judges believed the Swift Sport still represented a benchmark in its class and that rivals were not quite as comprehensive. The chief rivals were more expensive and not as easy to live with as the practical and well equipped Swift.

Last year the Swift Sport emerged a clear winner of the AA Driven People’s Choice Car of the Year 2018, as well as the supreme winner of the annual AMI NZ Autocar Car of the Year awards.

Meanwhile the five door Baleno won the Compact Business Car of the Year title, awarded by New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine. And the all-new Jimny SUV is the overall winner of the Four Wheel Drive of the Year award determined by New Zealand 4WD magazine.

In naming the Suzuki Baleno the Compact Business Car of the Year for 2019, New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine said, “Priced at a smidgen under $26,000, the Baleno RS is, first and foremost, an entertaining car to drive, which is perfectly in keeping with the Suzuki car ethos.”

“It happens to be loaded with features which many car companies are scrambling to fit to fleet friendly products - Apple Carplay and Android Auto along with satellite navigation (most car manufacturers offer one or the other, but seldom both), seven-inch touchscreen voice activation, bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, speed limiter, paddle shifters, hill hold control and many more big car features.”

“What is most surprising about the Baleno, however, is the performance,” said New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine said. “We expected the Baleno to be a slightly more sensible performer than the Swift but in fact the Baleno is something of a dark horse, especially in RS guise. You can have a lot of fun with a Baleno and look sensible at the same time.”

“It helps that this new Suzuki is an attractive - in both style and price - little package as well,” said the publication which was impressed with the “grunty” attitude of the one-litre BoosterJet turbo engine, the roomy seating for five and impressive luggage space of 355 litres that is expandable to 756 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Reflecting on the new Jimny’s latest accolade, New Zealand 4WD magazine said the biggest surprise was the response to the model and interest from the mass market. There was unprecedented demand for the Jimny in all key world markets. The publication said the model was small but perfectly formed with serious off-road credentials.

“But we can also appreciate its appeal to those who will never take theirs beyond the city limits,” said the magazine.

“Every so often a new vehicle comes along and immediately captures the hearts and minds of the buying public. The square-rigged design is the perfect mix of retro and modern, as is the combination of the ladder chassis, four wheel coil suspension and transfer case-based ALLGRIP Pro driving mode package,” commented the judges.

“In short we loved it and - if Suzuki can ever meet global demand for it - we think adventurous Kiwis will too,” said the 4WD publication.