While South Africans trust in Toyota, Suzuki and its Baleno had the original success recipe

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2020 Suzuki Baleno
2020 Suzuki Baleno

• The Suzuki Baleno and Toyota Starlet share the same architecture and engine.

• The Baleno first came to market in 2016, and the Starlet in 2020.

• Suzuki South Africa is a reckoned automaker in the South African market.

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In 2019, Toyota and Suzuki announced that they'd be going into an alliance. And why not, because the world economy has been walking a tight rope for the best part of a decade and all businesses are looking at ways to survive.

Both Suzuki and Toyota are successful in their own right, but if ways to turn a greater profit can be found, why not explore it? It is exactly what the two Japanese giants did, with the Toyota Starlet being one of the first custodians - if not the first - at the receiving end of this alliance's benefits.

Serving as the Starlet's base is a Suzuki Baleno. Everything on the Starlet is from the Suzuki parts bin. In fact, the only items from Toyota are the badges, but this seems to be of little concern as consumers flock to the newcomer rather than the car that's been carrying the load on its shoulders since 2016.


Which of the two, Baleno or Starlet, would you choose, and why? Email us or use the comment section below.

In Toyota we trust

If one were to conduct a survey, we'd probably find that most consumers are not all too aware of the automotive world's happenings. Yes, they'd know some brands, but chances are that these would be your most common ones. These include Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Ferrari… (Come on, everyone knows Ferrari.)

Despite making gigantic leaps in terms of expanding its South African footprint since 2008, Suzuki is still not known-known by everyone. Consumers might be familiar with the name, but not yet ready to trust it. In 2020, for example, Suzuki moved house to a bigger premise that also houses a bigger warehouse. Why? To stock more (common) parts and serve its clients in a faster, more efficient manner. It was all part of Suzuki's plan to show its dedication to South Africans trusting them as their automotive choice.

REVIEW: Why Suzuki's got-it-all Baleno is unjustifiably overlooked in the market

In October of last year, the automaker sold its most number of new vehicles yet in South Africa - 2032 units sold to place it as the sixth best-selling automaker for the month.

André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa, said at the time: "It is important to note that Suzuki's growth was not achieved overnight. Over the past 12 (now 13) years, we have steadily invested in our corporate capacity, our product range, our local parts storage, distribution network and, of course, our dealer network. By laying the foundations and working hard to introduce the right products into the South African market, we have been able to grow our market share steadily and consistently."

While consumers flock to Toyota dealers to sign for a car that seems to offer it all, they forget - or don't know - that the Baleno was the first to get it right. The Baleno's product is the same as the Starlet's, but it's unjustly ignored because another badge instils more trust.

Toyota Starlet
2021 Toyota Starlet
Suzuki Baleno
2020 Suzuki Baleno
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