Maruti Suzuki BALENO - another premium hit at NEXA by MARUTI SUZUKI
A new premium hatchback from Maruti Suzuki called the Baleno. Now the name invariably reminds us of the old sedan, which was Maruti’s first attempt at entering the premium car market in India. They failed but since then, a lot of things have changed. The Indian car market has matured to an extent, the share of expensive cars has gone up and Maruti Suzuki sales have almost doubled. What hasn’t changed though is the company’s struggle to establish itself as a premium brand.
The Baleno is a premium looking car. There are lots of things that make the car appealing, but it isn’t simply down to looks. While the photos suggested that the Baleno looks similar to the Swift, in flesh, the Baleno looks a lot different.
The Baleno uses Suzuki’s new liquid flow design philosophy to emphaise its exterior. The front of the car gets V-shaped grille, whose lines are extended all the way to the rear, first through the sweptback headlamps and then through the shoulder line. In photos, the design reminds us of the Swift with its similar bonnet size, but up close the car looks different and a lot more premium with LED DRLs, projector headlamps and chrome inserts.
The side view is relatively simple. It gets a sloping rear but it does not make the car look sporty. The rear profile looks pretty with LED tail lamps and extra chrome. Overall, as intended the Baleno appears to be bigger and premium compared to the B-Segment cars.
The cabin looks refreshing with the new dashboard layout. The all-black interior is sporty and there are silver inserts for the dashboard and door trims. There is plenty of space in the cabin for five passengers, also the boot is large at 339 litres.Maruti is offering plenty of features with the Baleno. The top-end model gets touch-screen music system with navigation, rear parking camera and sensors, climate control, engine start-stop button and a detailed instrument cluster with a TFT screen. Also the safety features like ABS-EBD and the front airbags are standard across all variants.
Engine and Performance
The petrol versions of the Baleno are powered by the 1.2-litre K-Series VVT engine developing 83bhp and 115Nm of torque. The fuel efficiency of the engine is officially rated at 21.4kmpl and it is available with a choice of a five-speed manual or the CVT automatic transmission. The diesel engine is the same 1.3-litre multijet from the Swift producing 75bhp and 190Nm of torque. It uses the five-speed manual gearbox and has a claimed fuel efficiency of 27.39kmpl.
The Baleno is based on an all-new platform and despite being bigger than the Swift in dimensions, the car is actually close to 100kg lighter.
Variants and Competition
The Baleno is available in four trims – Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha. The Sigma is the base level, while the Alpha variant is the top-spec with all the features. The CVT automatic transmission is available only with the Delta variant of the hatchback.Maruti Suzuki is offering the car in seven colours - ray blue, fire red, met premium silver, autumn orange, premium urban blue, pearl artic white and granite gray. The premium hatchback competes with the Honda Jazz and Hyundai Elite i20 in India.
The Baleno is a very balanced package. Looks decent, offers ample space, there are plenty of features and the performance is acceptable. But what seals the deal for me is the fact that the safety aspect is covered even in the base variant. So anyone on a tight budget can pick up the entry-level variant and then upgrade features later.
Of course, the pricing will play a very important role. But with close to 99 per cent localisation and a relatively smaller diesel engine, it should not be too much of a worry for Maruti Suzuki. The Baleno will be sold through the Nexa dealerships and people looking to buy a premium hatchback should consider this before making the final decision.
Only time will tell if the Baleno will set things in the right direction for Maruti Suzuki, in terms of presence in the premium segment. But it certainly has the potential.