Maruti Suzuki is back in the premium segment with Baleno hatchback which has nothing in common with its Sedan siblings launched a decade ago except name. Maruti’s only offering in the mid level hatchback segment Swift has transformed the segment ever since its launch in 2005. The sad part about MSIL’s journey in India is the non existence of vehicle in B segment hatch category which somehow drifted buyers who wants to buy bigger and premium cars than Swift towards Hyundai Elite i20, Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz. Baleno is the second vehicle to be sold from company’s NEXA premium dealerships which currently sells S-Cross. The Maruti Baleno comes with new design technology, premium features and best in class mileage which aims to snatch out maximum share in the segment. Let’s have a look at how is this new Elite i20 challenger.
- Maruti has hit the sweet spot with Baleno’s pricing as it manages to undercuts most of its rivals.
- Priced between Rs. 4.99-8.11 lakh Baleno chip away Elite i20, Honda Jazz by decent margin.
Engine and Performance:
- Baleno is available with 1.2l K series Petrol and 1.3l DDis Diesel range of engine, the 1.0l EcoBoost petrol engine couldn’t make its way the time of launch which is available in the international markets.
- Both the engines come paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard while Maruti is offering a CVT gearbox for a very first time in a Maruti car.
- To our surprise, Baleno comes with 1.2l petrol instead of 1.4l unit available on Ciaz and Ertiga though light weight platform helped Baleno to perform in sedate manner. Overtaking is brisk and you get adequate power from the word go.
- NVH levels are poor as compared to South Korean rival Hyundai Elite i20 but a league ahead of Honda new Jazz.
- Ride and Handling is an area where Baleno is sets new benchmarks for the maker, despite being the lightest car among its rivals; it performs in planted manner with confidence even at triple digits.
- Though the premium hatchback isn’t as sporty as Swift but behaves in decent manner during cornering and high speeds.
- Steering wheel feels light but it gains strength as you press the pedal hard. Potholes and bumps are ironed out rather well
Space and Dimensions:
- Maruti Baleno is the longest and widest car in the segment which reflects inside the cabin. Getting in and out is a brisk task due to tall stance of the hatchback.
- Starting from the front seats which are pretty wide comes with good side bolstering and ample under thigh support gives comfortable ride for long drives.
- The rear seats sports generous amount of legroom space with shoulder space is comfortable enough for three. Headroom too is pretty liberal even for tall passengers.
- Practicality is written all over the cabin with 339 liters of boot space is bigger than i20 but shorter than Jazz. The boot is sufficient enough for 4-5 decent size bags and also you will find lots of storage bins inside the cabin etc.
- The design of Baleno isn’t something that will be like love at first sight, it will grow on you with time. The front profile is reminiscent of Swift but in a god manner while things like projector headlamps with LED DRLs, V-shaped honeycomb mesh grille with thin chrome lip differentiate it from Swift.
- Moving to the sides which get the smooth flowing design and shoulder line that merges into the tail lamps. Multi spoke alloy wheels, chrome line around the windows, chrome door handles and integrated ORVMs with turn blinkers makes the Baleno sporty but isn’t as Sporty as its Korean counterpart Hyundai Elite i20.
- Let’s move over the rear profile, where Baleno shows its massive width and muscularity which makes rear fresh if not stylish. Bulbous curvy boot, roof spoiler, C-shaped Tail lamps (quite similar to BMW 1 series), rear windscreen and a thick chrome bar makes its sporty.
- There is no doubt that Baleno is best-looking car till date from the maker but as compared to its rivals it’s a bit less dynamic and more conservative.
- Step inside the cabin and you’ll feel like sitting in a Maruti due to the same multi function steering wheel which we have seen in many Marutis while the overall layout is taken from other cars in the lineup.
- At a first glance, Baleno impresses you with simple no non sense design and long tail of features while on the other side, it let down you with its average build quality which one not expect from a premium hatchback.
- The All black treatment with black seats lends premium and sporty look to the cabin and enhances the feel.
- As desired in the segment, the features list is quite long with 7 inch Smartplay infotainment system with sharp display and featuring apple car play, GPS navigation and voice command, reverse parking camera, keyless entry, electrically foldable ORVMs and many more.
- The infotainment system also comes with I-phone connectivity so sit back and enjoy your ride with SIRI however it is not responsive with Indian accents. For android users, Maruti will launch Android auto system.
- The driver side circular dials with blue illuminate lighting looks really great and gives loads of useful information like torque metre, average fuel consumption and average speed etc.
- The dashboard is highlighted with chrome accents on V shaped central console, AC vents and steering wheels.
- Overall, the feel and features justify the premium tag of the hatchback however the quality do play as a sport spoiler but this will go unnoticed as it’s not something to worry about.
- Taking safety seriously, Maruti is offering dual front airbags, ABS and seat belt pretensioners with load limiters as standard across all variants which is worth of a applaud.
- In addition, Maruti is now offering dual front airbags and ABS as option on all the variants of Swift, Wagon R/ Stingray, Celerio and Dzire.
Maruti Suzuki, the hatchback King has thrown every possible thing into the new Baleno to make the most desirable car in the segment, whether it’s refreshing design, array of new features or making safety aids standard across all variants. Its design is a head turner but isn’t as graceful or aggressive as Elite i20 or even Honda Jazz. The strong points of Baleno are Space, best in class fuel efficiency, features, standard safety and off course Maruti’s brand tag.
Now question arise, whether customers be willing to pay for it? Well, it got over 21,000 bookings in just 2 weeks is sufficient enough to answer. If you can digest the quality which isn’t bad but certainly not up to the mark as compared to Elite i20, Jazz and Polo then Baleno is just made for you. Overall, Baleno is a great value for money product and a sure shot threat to the competition.