Maruti Suzuki Baleno Performance & First Drive

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Overview

Think of a Baleno and the first picture that comes to my mind is the yellow rally car jumping really high up in the air. In fact Team OVERDRIVE’s very own Suresh captured the famous click more than a decade back. Production ended a few years later and the Baleno went on to become a cult car. It still is used in rallying – even I experienced one in the INRC and till date, it remains one of my best rally car experiences. Maruti Suzuki makes very different cars today, but they’ve brought back the Baleno label in the form of an all-new premium hatchback. Maruti Suzuki Baleno price range in India is between 5,27,570/- to 8,46,177/, check for detail pricing of Baleno in Carzprice

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Maruti Suzuki finally re-enter this segment. They did start the segment by introducing the Swift way back in 2005. The car was replaced with an all-new model but over the years, the car had lost that premium feel. The i20 and Jazz are a lot more appealing and have proved that larger and more expensive hatchbacks do well in India too. The new Baleno in a way is a larger and more premium Swift. It is Maruti Suzuki’s answer to Honda and Hyundai. The car was very recently premiered in Frankfurt and is now ready to go on sale in India.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Design

When Maruti decided to segregate its premium range from the usual, it made sure the difference is conspicuous in the look, feel and experience. Baleno is a chic hatchback that gets a contemporary design on the lines of rivals. Reminiscent of Swift, front features honey-comb mesh grille with sleek chrome surrounding meeting with the projector head lamps. Lower side of bumper has air-dams and fog lamps. View from side is pretty impressive too, the tapering widow glass, prominent beltline, flared wheel arches and slightly sloping roof add to the overall appeal. Get to the back and you realise how much attention Maruti has paid to the design of the car. The protruding boot make things stand out for Baleno, other key styling elements like chrome garnish beneath the raking wind-screen, pointed spoiler and well-shaped tail lamps further accentuate the chic tail.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Cabin

Honestly, car wasn’t very impressed with the interior when we first saw it at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month. And Maruti executives confirmed that the cars given to us in India are closer to production, which explains why it seems a lot more likeable now. The smart all-black cabin looks upmarket and sporty, but there are plenty of parts carried forward from other Maruti Suzuki models, which steals some of the freshness away. We expected the premium-positioned Baleno to use some soft plastic parts on the dashboard and maybe leather upholstery options, which could have made the cabin even better. Apart from this there’s not much to complain about, as the fit and finish is pretty decent for the segment.

The front seats are large, comfortable and well bolstered. Thankfully, the driver’s seat is height-adjustable, which helps get a good driving position. In fact, the tilt and reach adjustable steering further helps this cause. The icing on the cake is the positioning of the switches and buttons, all of which are well within reach, making the cabin ergonomically sound.As desired in this segment, the cabin is spacious and there’s plenty of space at the back too. What’s most impressive is the excellent knee room for the rear seat passengers – something Maruti car buyers were always left desiring more for until now. India being a predominantly chauffeur-driven country, this will not go unnoticed. There’s a spacious boot too, with a very useable 339 litres of storage space.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Performance

In terms of engine options, the Baleno gets the same proven 1.2-litre K-Series and DDiS DOHC motors. The petrol engine is peppy and rev happy. Power delivery is linear and throttle response is fantastic too. The international Baleno gets the new 1.0-litre turbocharged Boosterjet engine but there is still some time before this new motor makes it to India. The lower kerb weight, however, should make the car slightly quicker than the Swift. The 5-speed gearbox offers precise and positive shifts and is a delight to use. There’s also a CVT option offered for the first time in a Maruti Suzuki hatchback in India. The typical rubberband effect exists and is a pain when you put your foot down on the accelerator. It’s a typical CVT, so it works best in city and when driven at half throttle on the highway. Triple digit speeds come at 1,500rpm so one doesn’t have to give it the beans to extract decent performance from the engine. The fuel efficiency claimed is a best in class 21.4kmpl.

The DDiS unit used doesn’t feature a VGT, so power output is not 90PS but 75PS instead. While the motor offers good driveability and best in class claimed efficiency (27.39kmpl), the more powerful motor seen in the Ciaz and S-Cross would have made it more appealing. Besides, rivals like the i20 and Jazz produce more power. That aside, the engine is refined but engine clatter and noise are slightly on the higher side. NVH levels, however, are lower than the Swift. The 5-speed transmission is tuned well and makes good use of the 190Nm torque.Fuel economy for diesel engine is rated at 27.39 km/l and petrol trims are claimed to deliver 21.4 km/l. The light body weight infers good power to weight ratio which reflects in the performance both in terms of fuel efficiency and while on the go.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Rideing

Another highlight of the Baleno is its ride. The suspension is set up well for Indian roads. The car doesn’t crash into potholes or bad surfaces and instead, glides over them. There’s also 170mm of ground clearance. We drove over a few bad surfaces and never once did the belly scrape. The steering feel is a lot like the Swift. The electric setup is light at low speeds and weighs up slightly as speeds increase. There is body roll but is controlled and never a concern. High speed stability is impressive though. The new platform is lighter (kerb weight is just 865-910kg, depending on the variant) and more rigid than the Swift’s but that doesn’t make it a better handler. The Baleno is still a good choice when it comes to dynamics especially when compared to its rivals.The Baleno is an international model for Suzuki and is based on an all-new platform, which will underpin future Maruti models including the next generation Swift. In spite of being larger than the current Swift, the Baleno is 100kg lighter and said to be 10 per cent stronger. This not just helps it meet the stringent European safety norms, but also offers excellent power to weight ratio.

The ride quality of the new Baleno is far superior to any of the recent models launched by Maruti Suzuki in India. In fact, we could go so far as to say that it is probably the best. It rides with a certain poise and confidence, and seemed extremely surefooted on the Jaipur highway. The steering is light and reasonably communicative, more in tune for city use. It’s a large car, but there’s hardly any bodyroll or wallowing. Brakes, too, are good for their job, with ABS and EBD ensuring it stops quickly and safely.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Safety

Dual front airbags for driver and co-passenger and ABS with EBD are standard across variants. The only feature that is exquisite to the top-spec variant is the reverse parking camera. Other eminent equipment aboard include anti-theft security system, front disc brakes, dual horn, auto head lamps, front fog lamps, front seat with belt pre-tensioners and force limiters, pinch guard power window for driver, auto dimming IRVM, driver side seat belt reminder, reverse parking sensors, rear wiper and washer and rear defogger.View offers on Maruti Cars from Maruti dealers in Hyderabad at Autozhop

On the outside, Baleno gets body coloured door handles in lower trims and chrome finished door handles on higher variants. Honey-comb front grille gets chrome accent, ORVMs come with mounted indicators, back doors get spoiler, projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights and rear combination lamps with LED. Cabin gets metal finish door handles, multi information speedometer with display and leather wrapped steering wheel.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Price

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Ex-Showroom Price in India ranges from 5,27,570/- (Baleno Sigma Petrol) to 8,46,177/- (Baleno Alpha CVT Petrol). Get best offers for Maruti Suzuki Baleno from Maruti Suzuki Dealers in India

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Verdict

The Baleno offers good features but the comfort features vary with the variant. However, all trims offer standard ABS, EBD and dual-airbags. This is a good move from Maruti Suzuki and all other models should offer the same too. The car will be available in four trim levels, namely Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha in both petrol and diesel variants (For more details, read Maruti Suzuki Baleno: Variants explained). The CVT petrol is only available in the Delta (petrol) trim.The Baleno is Maruti Suzuki’s second Nexa product but that doesn’t mean the car has to be priced higher than rivals. We expect prices to be on par with the i20 and Jazz. If it is priced lower, it makes it all the better for the country’s largest carmaker. (Team OD: The Maruti Suzuki Baleno has been launched in India at a rather competitive price of Rs 4.99 lakh). The Baleno has officially returned and has all it takes to get the competition worried.

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