The new Suzuki Baleno, which has been enthusiastically acclaimed and backed by strong sales across the globe, has arrived in South Africa and is destined to become a rapid attention-grabber in the brand’s local line-up.
Management has set its sights on 80 sales a month which might seem a tad optimistic in the current downturn in new vehicle sales but such is the appeal of the Baleno that it might well clock up that figure or do even better.
It is a handsome wagon with a number of eye-catching features such as a sporty, sloping roofline, bulging wheel arches, slit-eyed headlights, black grille with the prominent S badge, sunken fog lights and attractive wheel trim.
The living quarters are refined, comfortable and richly endowed with many appealing nice-to-haves and it feels much roomier than its compact exterior proportions suggest. That’s especially true of the rear bench seat, which is wide enough for three occupants, and offers ample shoulder room, with legroom to match.
In fact, the distance between the front seat backrest and the rear bench seat, also referred to as the tandem distance, is an impressive 805 mm. The rear bench seat is divided 60:40, allowing each section to be folded flat individually to create a number of seating and cargo space configurations. The standard luggage space is 355 litres and with the rear seat folded flat this is extended to a generous 756 litres.
The instrument panel is designed for maximum visibility directly ahead of the driver and a 6,2-inch colour display for the infotainment system is located in the centre stack in the case of the range-topping GLX models.
There are three models to choose from, a GL, GLX manual and a GLX Auto and even the least expensive GL has a full-house of goodies which include dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and BAS, aircon, MP3, USB compatible CD player, Bluetooth with six speakers; steering mounted audio controls, multi-information display, front and rear accessory sockets. Extras on the GLX models add leather-covered steering wheel, alloy wheels, keyless entry, 6.2 touchscreen, rear park distance control, cruise control side and curtain airbags, auto climate control LED daytime running lights and more.
Fancy kit, comfort and looks aside, where the Baleno really shines is on the trot, where it really dishes up a delightful performance. All the models are powered by a 1.4lVVT engine that produces 68kW and 130Nm, which does not make any motoring aficionado’s heart beat faster, but on this hatch it feels more than capable.
The two manual gearbox derivatives accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 10,9 seconds and are capable of clocking a top speed of 180 km/h. The automatic model boasts a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 11,6 seconds and has a top speed of 170 km/h. Suzuki claims an average fuel consumption of 5.1 litres/100 km for the manual and 5,4 litres/100 km for the automatic version.
At the media introduction I took the wheel of the least expensive GL and in the company of one of the other “oldies” with heavy miles as a motoring scribe, we covered some interesting areas in the more scenic parts of the Eastern Cape and we were equally impressed by the Suzuki’s upmarket versatility.
Everything about this hatch feels good. The ride is solid, the steering feel is much better than the average in this segment, the cog-swopping process is slick and well attuned to power on demand and the living quarters are really well-insulated. In typical Suzuki fashion its clings to the tar with tenacity with hardly any body lean through the corners. To drive the Baleno is pure pleasure and undoubtedly amongst the best I have piloted in this class and price range.
It was quite unusual that not a single mutter about the Baleno was aired by any of the scribes during the after-drive beer-o’clock post mortem before dinner. We all seemed to have one common concern though: that not one of us could find even one nit-pickingly small thing to dislike about the Balemo – and that says it all about this top notch Suzuki.
The models and prices (which include a three-year/100,000 km warranty, as well as a four-year/60,000 km service plan) are:
Suzuki Bandero GL – R199,900
Suzuki Bandero GLX manual – R229,900
Suzuki Bandero GLX automatic – R244,900
Egypt, Toyota Tsusho discuss manufacturing natural gas-powered microbuses
CAIRO – 13 October 2019: Egypt and Toyota Tsusho discussed on Sunday how the giant Japanese company can contribute to the government’s plans to manufacturing natural gas-powered microbuses.
During his meeting with President and CEO of Toyota Tsusho Mr. Ichiro Kashitani, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli emphasized Egypt’s keenness to best utilize its resources by reducing diesel exports’ expenses and transferring diesel-fueled vehicles to natural gas-powered ones or to bi-fuel vehicles that are capable of running on two fuels (natural gas and gasoline) through offering payment facilities.
Mabdouli further stressed that the transfer process needs to be implemented through manufacturing companies that working on Egypt’s soil, in order to enhance local manufacturing, and transfer expertise, according to a cabinet press statement about the meeting. He also ensured that the government is serious in its plans to implementing the transfer process through providing funding programs and incentives to encourage owners of old microbuses.
These ambitions go the lines with the government’s latest unveiled plan in August, aiming to turn 50,000 vehicles into gas-powered annually.
Mabdouli also stressed the government’s readiness to discuss the details of the implementation of the program and accelerate the process according to a specific schedule.
For their part, Toyota Tsusho delegation presented their proposal of “manufacturing high quality microbuses in a way that will meet the Egyptian government’s converting the fuel-powered vehicles.”
In a previous interview with Business Today Egypt magazine, Toyota Tsusho Kashitani explained his company’s strategy about using diversified fuels, based on the global trend to electrification, while maintaining an environment-friendly technology.
“In order to realize the fuel transfer plan by government, natural gas field development would be necessary to be accelerated and we are ready to support it by expansion of the offshore rig project as referred above,” Kashitani added during the interview.
Messe Frankfurt studies holding international textile exhibition in Egypt
Shirts- CC via Maxpixel/ Sony Ilce-7
CAIRO – 19 May 2019: Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH is studying holding an international fair for textile products in Egypt for the first time, announced Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry in a statement on Sunday.
“The exhibition will be an important platform for bringing together exporters and importers from around the world to exchange experiences and views in this field,” the statement read.
The exhibition comes in light of Egypt’s strategic plan to be a trade hub serving the African countries, the ministry said, noting that the country aims to be an international center for all international exhibitions.
Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH Uwe Behm said that the company has been cooperating with Egypt for 100 years, adding that the company aims to hold this big international exhibition due to Egypt’s distinguished and strategic geographic place in Africa and in the Arab World.
Durban Car Terminal handles over half a million fully built units
DURBAN – The Durban Car Terminal broke a South African (SA) record, handling over half a million fully built units (FBU) in the 2018/19 financial year.
Amanda Siyengo, the Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) General Manager for Bulk, Break Bulk and Car Operations said, “A combination of a shift in the operating model, improved planning, dedicated operational teams and collaboration with customers and shipping lines have seen the terminal exceed its annual average of 480 000 FBU”.
This has resulted in the terminal handling 510 936 FBU which comprises of passenger, commercial, static mafi cargo and high and heavy vehicles.
The terminal had undergone an operating model change which entailed taking over the outsourced driving service function so that it was handled internally. Siyengo added that this achievement had not been an easy task, commending terminal management on and improving efficiencies such as units handled per hour with and ship working hours
“Facilitating seamless logistics planning and operational execution for original equipment manufacturers plus collaboration with shipping lines, is very critical in eliminating bottlenecks and ensuring that automotive exports and imports are handled efficiently for the South African economy,” said Siyengo.
The Durban Car Terminal is also focusing on creating more storage capacity to meet the industry demand, driving a high performance culture and being innovative in solutions it provides. Introducing the automated service instruction entry (SIE) to over 100 customers, supply chain partners and various other stakeholders is an initiative that is work in progress however, improves the SARS clearance process from 72 to 24 hours.
There have also been significant investments in the SA automotive sector that supported higher production capacity which led to better than expected export volumes countrywide.
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Automotive Production and Development Plan incentivizing the industry for increasing local content from 38% to 60% ex-factory price, has also played a significant role in increased numbers after its introduction in 2013. SA’s motor industry currently builds about 600 000 vehicles per annum, which is 0.7 percent of the global consumption. The SA government would like to see this grow to about 1 percent in 2035 when the SA Automotive Masterplan expires.
SA, through TPT’s Durban Car Terminal is the single largest car terminal in Africa. They have previously created a web-based, general cargo operating system called GCOS which enhances security of break bulk cargo and automotive, offering simple user interface and greater data integrity compared to the old manual method.
GCOS is a commercial product that some of the West African terminals are already utilizing and one of these is the Port of Cotonou in Benin.
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