Car Test   R0316
March 2003
  Suzuki Liana
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.6GLX Sedan 4door
Among smaller family cars, the hatchback reigns supreme; saloons and estate cars sell in much smaller numbers and so some manufacturers don’t bother. If you’re buying with your own money, budget-priced alternatives to mainstream models, like the Focus and Astra, are even thinner on the ground. Proton Wira and Hyundai Accent are the only real alternatives to this Suzuki – whose parent company is better known for its motorbikes and much-loved Vitara Sports Utility Vehicle.
   In fact, Suzuki’s previous Balero made a good impression on us when we tested it – but it was only full-sized family-fare as a saloon and never really caught on.
   The new Liana avoids this marketing pitfall by being offered as a five-door hatchback or an elongated four-door saloon – both at the same highly competitive asking price.
   The extra 12cm at the kerb really pays off in terms of boot space, which by our reckoning is 50 per cent greater than the hatchback’s, if all seats are occupied and you resort to soft holdalls rather than just suitcases. The sill is still reasonably unobtrusive and the rear seat backrests flip forward on to fixed cushions, to deal with any overflow. Boot security isn’t a strong-point, however, and you lose the rear wiper, of course.
   The other loss versus the otherwise identically seated hatch, is that the saloon’s rear backrest has a fixed rake which could be a shade too upright for some passengers; the hatch offers variable rake. Nevertheless, the Liana saloon’s standard of trim and its accommodation, leaves little to be improved on; just a soft-feel facia and wider door receptacles would round things off nicely.
   This favourable visual inspection is endorsed by the numbers we recorded – whether it’s a tape measure, fuel meter or performance–measuring equipment that’s applied, the Liana passes muster against all the big names – and does better than some.
   Where it struggles, however, is in some aspects of its behaviour. There’s a certain harshness that afflicts both the suspension and the engine as conditions become more demanding. Cruising along a smooth main road at anything up to sixty on the digital speedo leaves little to be desired. However, go faster, rev it harder or encounter a poorly surfaced minor road, and the shortcomings, in terms of ride and mechanical coarseness, begin to emerge.
   Comfortable seating and good heating (with air-con as well, on the GLX) are welcome, however, and the Liana’s cabin and controls are largely glitch-free.
   Construction standards are reassuring – there’s a lot of panel-galvanising in manufacture – and we like underbonnet details such as chain-driven camshafts and easy routine accessibility. This is a layout that any competent service engineer could cope with, if a Suzuki dealer isn’t all that close.
  considering size, price and rivals
Handling/steering  not available
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Security, theft of
theft from
  • digital displays instantly convert between miles/km
  • soft padding for rear shins
  • superior quality floor carpets/seat trim
  • ideal left footrest
  • variable intermittent wipe
  • revs take too long to settle down to idle speed
  • fiddly, miniscule radio controls
  • foglamps/heated rear screen buttons easily missed
  • painful contact with handbrake when selecting reverse
  • driver's door mirror won't adjust outwards enough
This GLX saloon has a lot to commend it. If initial price is a serious consideration and you prefer to deal with a main agent, rather than an internet or supercentre, it has all the right credentials for a low-risk, new-car purchase. However, contrary to initial appearances, it didn’t always behave as unobtrusively as we had hoped. A nice turnout, but a bit more spit and polish required.

engine 1586cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 105bhp at 5500rpm, 106 lb ft at 4000rpm; chain-driven double overhead camshafts, 16valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 20.0mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.0 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs, longitudinal and trailing arms
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.0 turns lock-to-lock; 10.55m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.5m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear, with standard ABS on GLX version   wheels/tyres 5.5in steel with 185/65R14T tyres (optional extra alloy wheels with 195/55R15V tyres on test car); full-size steel or alloy spare to match

size and type budget-priced, lower medium 5-door hatchback and 4-door saloon   trim levels GL, GLX
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.6 litre/105bhp
diesel: none
  drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (4-speed stepped automatic optional)

HOW THE LIANA GLX SEDAN COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Suzuki Liana 1.6 Saloon 4/1586/105 3460 10.4 18.4/24.7 39/169 19/29 107 101/75 3.0/10.55 435+
Toyota Corolla 1.6 Hatch 4/1598/110 3550 10.4 18.8/24.5 40/168 14/26 109 98/74 3.5/10.6 418
VW Bora 1.6 Saloon 4/1595/105 3540 10.3 17.3/23.3 38.5/170 18/27.5 111# 95/71# 3.1/10.4 438
Ford Focus 1.6 Saloon 4/1596/100 3150 10.8 20.1/29.1 40.5/167 15/26.5 107 100/71 2.9/10.6 436
Fiat Stilo 1.6 Hatch 4/1596/103 3260 12.2 23.0/35.6 36/179 17/26.5 107 110/79ª 2.9/10.85 425
Suzuki Baleno 1.6 Saloon 4/1590/98 3100 10.8 23.4/34.2 41/na 13/27 108 100/70 3.3/9.9 420
  # Golf interior dimensions  ª seat fully rearwards  + hatchback is 423cm

Ditigal speedo better than most of its type - 2mph optimistic only. Good pedals and stalks (when familiarized), but minor switches/tell-tales obscure. Excellent seat support with sufficient adjustment, but door mirrors not heated
Quite spry through the curves and comes with nicely weighted steering. Ride's inadequacies feed into the steering, creating some directional nervousness, however. Easy to park, but turning circle not as good as brochure claims.
Really good seating and space all round make amends for Liana's unduly restless bump reaction. Harsher engine note after 60mph unwelcome, with some tyre rumble, too. Heat to all footwells and cooler flow to upper facia vents is pleasing.

  acceleration in seconds through gears* 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 30.3 9.1 11.9
  30-50mph 4.0 8.6 11.5
  40-60mph 5.0 8.9 11.8
  50-70mph 6.4 9.8 13.2
  30-70mph 10.4 18.4 24.7
  max speed in each gear (* using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      28      52      75.5      102.5      112.5 (5550rpm)

Again, a commendable result to our carefully metered tests, with good low-level warning and easy refilling without needing a key. An excellent tank range results.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 28
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 34
    motorway (70mph cruising) 37.5
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 39.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 46.5
    overall mpg 39
    realistic tank capacity/range 45/385
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 32.1/48.7/40.9
    CO2 emissions 169g/km
    car tax band D

GLX gets extra side airbags and saloon has a 'proper' fifth belt arrangement, with headrestraints added; child seats also accommodated. The anti-lock brakes, with optional wider tyres, produced a disappointing best stop, with some heat fade, too.
  from 50mph (with standard ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     36.5m
sudden 19kg     29m best stop
+ 4kg 23kg     29.5m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

A surprisingly spacious boot with 'overflow' room by flipping (well-trimmed) rear seatbacks forward. The load sill is low and there's space below the load deck for bits and pieces. Oddments spaces inside merely adequate, but good seating and lighting.
  in centimetres (4-door saloon)
  length 435
  width - including mirrors 195
    - mirrors folded 167
  height 155
  load sill height (inside/outside) 13/69
  turns lock-to-lock 3.0
  turning circle (metres) 10.55
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 88-107
    - headroom 99-104§
  rear - typical legroom 101
    - typical kneeroom 75
    - headroom 93§
    - hiproom 126
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 81-162~
  load length to facia No
  load width 95-156
  load height 55
§ no sunroof  ~ rear seat folded

No alarm but deadlocks and anti-hijack measures, with (GLX) handset control as well as keyholes on both front doors. Boot keyhole doesn't operate other locks and poor boot contents security from interior.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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