Maruti Suzuki Baleno Review: A different shade of Maruti
Hyundai had widened the premium hatchback segment with the Elite i20 with not just the price tag but even the numbers. Then came the Honda Jazz, which further enhanced the numbers. Now, the heavy-weight champ of hatchbacks in India - Maruti Suzuki - is preparing to get the Baleno to India.
This Baleno is a hatchback that only shares its name with the old sedan and nothing else. Unveiled the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Baleno will make its world debut in India. Our countrymen will be the first in the world to get deliveries of this new premium hatchback that sits above the Swift in the Maruti family range. So, how good is the Baleno? We take it for a spin in Jaipur to get the initial impressions of this new hatchback.
Looks are subjective but Suzuki had made a new design that will be a part of its design language. The Baleno has a black mesh grille with somewhat Swift-like headlamp design. The LEDs add that pinch of extra flavour else without it does look a tad bland. This is the only premium hatchback to get LEDs, while the Hyundai i20 and the Honda Jazz do not get this in their headlamps.
The side profile has a rising belt line for the wheel arches and then there is also a blacked-out pillars. The 16-inch tyres look a bit smaller, indicating that larger size tyres can be used on this premium hatchback. The rear does look stunning with the C-shaped tail lamps that look fabulous. The integrated rear spoiler looks sporty.
This is the most important part of the car, as this is where majority of the time is spent. The interiors of Marutis have been highly appealing, be it the Celerio or even Ciaz or the new Swift. The Baleno is no exception and this is the new hatchback that gets a new set of interiors. The Baleno gets a new set of interiors and the dashboard is highly appealing. Pictures don’t do justice to this hatchback’s interiors as they do look stylish and are premium.
The steering wheel is the next-generation Maruti design and it has a new instrument cluster with a TFT screen that shows current fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency, distance to empty, current torque and power being used. The top-of-the-line variant gets Apple’s CarPlay system that is a good integration of the latest technology in a car. Maruti claims that Android Auto will also be soon added to this list.
The space on the Baleno is good in both the rows, however it is a bit uncomfortable at the rear as the recline is limited. There are no rear AC vents, but still the cooling is good enough. We still have to test this product in the heats of Indian summer and give a complete feedback. The Baleno’s ergonomics is well-sorted and there are no negatives that we could find.
The Baleno’s most-selling engine will be the petrol, which is a 1.2-litre K-Series engine that churns about 82bhp of power and comes mated to either a five-speed manual or a CVT (continuously variable transmission). This is a gem of a petrol engine and it has already been doing the magic on the Swift already. The drivability of the manual is good and one doesn’t requires to shift gears even in city traffic. The power is very much linear and the throttle response is also good. To overtake isn’t very difficult, but at times one needs to downshift. Drive it in city or on the highway, it is very convenient. We haven’t driven much in the city, but it is certainly not that difficult. We shall soon get our hands on the Baleno and take it for a longer drive in the near future.
The diesel on the other hand is a 1.3-litre DDiS that churns about 75bhp of power and 190Nm of maximum torque. The diesel again has minimal lag and this is one of the biggest USPs of both the Baleno engines. The engineering team of Maruti has stated that it has worked on the NVH levels of the Baleno, however it is still a bit loud at high speeds. It isn’t the clatter, but the harshness sound. The only downside of this engine. We are nitpicking complains as Maruti has left no room for us to point out the issues with this premium hatchback. The Japanese automaker has gone a good job with the Baleno and it does feel smooth to drive and it doesn’t even feel jittery up to speeds of 120km/hr. Overtaking is a breeze in the diesel engine, while the gearbox is wee bit notchy. Despite pushing the Baleno, our mileage was constantly above 15km/l.
The ride of the Baleno car is very good. We have only driven the 195/55R16 (top-of-the-line variant) and yet to experience the other variant that comes shod with smaller tyres. But the ride will more of less remain the same. The suspension absorbs all the bumps with ease making it a smooth ride. On the other hand, the handling of the Baleno is just more evolved than the Swift. The alacrity of the chassis is a lot more superior to the other Maruti products thanks to the lighter weight chassis. This not just enhances the power and efficiency, but also improves the driving dynamics. The steering wheel too is light and feels comfortable to drive in city. It does weigh up a bit making it a joy to drive on the highways too.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||83 @6000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||115 @4000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||37|
|Tyre size||195 / 55 R16|
|UV Cut Glass||Y|
|Reverse Parking Camera||Y|
|Push Start and Stop||Y|
Competition All Specs
|Specifications||Maruti Suzuki Baleno||Hyundai Elite i20|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||83 @6000||82 @ 6000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||115@4000||115 @4000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||37||45|
|Tyre size||195/ 55 R16||195/55 R16|
The Baleno is based on the new, Suzuki fifth-generation platform that is lighter, rigid and safer. Designs are subjective and the Baleno doesn’t top the list when it comes to styling, but what it gets is a complete package from the country’s best-selling car maker. The interior quality, the space and the drivability is one of the best in its segment. Maruti is ticking all the correct boxes with the Baleno and this is what the customers need. This is the new-generation Maruti and it stands strong, sending a signal to the competition that it is not going to stay quiet and it will not give up its market share. It is there to lead and hold on its market share. The Baleno is the first one and many more are coming in.
Maruti Suzuki is once again flexing its muscles with the Baleno and this is the segment that is already on a rise. The brand value adds on to it and it makes it a great option to buy, especially the petrol. Once the price tags are revealed that is when we can give a clear opinion. The only think that will stop buyers from getting a Baleno is the badge value that Maruti Suzuki holds in the premium segment at the moment in the premium segment.