Maruti Baleno Expert Review

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Introduction

Maruti Baleno
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The Baleno is the 2nd car being sold through Maruti’s Nexa dealership network, after the S-Cross. The Baleno has made its world debut in India and is being placed in the sub 4-metre segment. It competes with the front runners of the segment such as the Hyundai Elite i20, VW’s Polo and Honda’s Jazz. The Baleno is on offer with two engine options, a 1.3-litre diesel and a 1.2-litre petrol. The petrol is offered with the choice of a manual or an automatic transmission. 

Also, on offer are a host of premium features like start/stop button with smart key and keyless entry, electrically foldable ORVMs and Apple’s CarPlay infotainment system. There are a few good moves by Maruti, in terms of safety, by making ABS, EBD & dual front airbags as standard across all variants. 

The Baleno is a premium offering by Maruti Suzuki. While it looks very attractive on paper, we met the car in the flesh to find out more. 

Pros
  • Liquid Flow design works well. One of the better looking Maruti cars.
  • Dual Front Airbags, ABS & EBD (Anti-Lock Brakes & Electronic Brake Distribution) standard across all variants.
  • Premium features such as projector headlamps and daytime running lights.
  • The long length and wheelbase of the car have translated into huge space in the cabin as well as the boot.
  • Priced aggressively when compared to its competitors.
Cons
  • Being sold only through Nexa Dealerships. They are limited in number as compared to the regular Maruti dealerships.
  • No rear AC vents.
  • The diesel is the most underpowered of the lot. At 75PS, it is 15PS short of the VW Polo and Elite i20 and 25PS short of the Honda Jazz.

Stand Out Features

  • Features Apple CarPlay which works in tandem with your iPhone to fulfil your media & navigation requirements.

    Features Apple CarPlay which works in tandem with your iPhone to fulfil your media & navigation requirements.

  • Great rear legroom.

    Great rear legroom.

  • We love the futuristic design on the instrument cluster with graphic readouts.

    We love the futuristic design on the instrument cluster with graphic readouts.

CarDekho Verdict

The Baleno offers good fit and finish compared to any other car in the Maruti portfolio. The car looks beautiful from the outside and isn’t too bad on the inside either. While the diesel may seem underpowered, it makes up with a lightweight body and splendid fuel economy. Something that Maruti has always been synonymous with. In terms of performance, it falls in the middle of the segment and the car is easy to drive in city conditions.

One of the biggest advantages of having the Baleno over the completion is the access to Maruti’s unmatched after sales and service network. 

"The Baleno offers the perfect balance of performance, features & quality. "

The Baleno is a step up from the Swift in terms of what it offers. It’s perfect for someone who is looking for something more than the Swift and at the same time wants to retain the peace of mind of owning a Maruti Suzuki.

Exterior

The Baleno is based on an all-new ‘Liquid Flow’ design philosophy which takes its inspiration from ‘energetic mass of water in motion’. This has defined the curvaceous body and dynamic styling cues. We first saw the Baleno at the Frankfurt Motor show in October 2015. 

At the front, you get a ‘V’ shaped grille with a strip of chrome. We love the way the car looks at night with the projector headlamps. The car stands out in the crowd during the day too with its daytime running lights (DRLs) which are clean strips that run at the bottom of the headlight housing. 

The DRLs and projector headlamps are reserved for the top end variant. The chrome on the grill continues onto the integrated chrome strip in the headlamps. The air dam at the bottom is a basic and functional black unit and houses the round fog lamps. We feel that larger fog lamps would have suited the car better. 

From the side, it does look quite crouched and the wheel arches are quite prominent. A strip of chrome, in the shape of an inverted wave, runs along the windowsill. There is a clean line that runs between the wheel arches. The door handles get chrome finishing and the cutouts behind them feel small compared to the size of the door handle. 

Move to the back and the first thing you notice in the large chrome strip on the tailgate. The hatch door feels small compared to the large balloon-like rear bumper. The hatch has a large contour that runs in tandem with the end of the tail lamps. The tail lamps feature LEDs which look classy. The badging is minimalistic with a Suzuki ‘S’ badge in the centre and ‘Baleno’ logo on the left.  There is a roof spoiler with an integrated brake light. 

No mention of the variant or engine option here. You can differentiate the petrol from the diesel with a small badge on the front passenger side.

The wing mirrors are mounted on the door and are body coloured with integrated turn lamps. The length of the car is 3995 mm which is a tad under 4 metres. The width stands at 1745mm which is over 100mm larger than the Jazz. The height is 1500mm which is within 5mm of the Elite i20 but the Jazz leads the pack with a height of 1544mm because of its MPV-like design. With a wheelbase of 2520mm, it lies in the middle of the pack. 

Exterior Comparison

Volkswagen Polo Honda Jazz Maruti Baleno
Length (mm) 3971 3955 3995
Width (mm) 1682 1694 1745
Height (mm) 1469 1544 1510
Ground Clearance (mm) 165 165 170
Wheel Base (mm) 2469 2530 2520
Kerb Weight (kg) 1158 1154 985
 

 The boot is simply huge and is illuminated. At close to 340 litres, this stands just below the Jazz. The boot just gobbles up large suitcases with ease. The only drawback, the loading lip is too high. 

Boot Space Comparison

Volkswagen Polo Honda Jazz Maruti Baleno
Volume 280-liters 354-litres 339-litres

The Baleno is one of the best looking cars in their portfolio.

We love the styling of the Baleno and it is a class above what Maruti usually offers. We like the design better than the S-Cross which it is sold alongside. We expect a bit of cannibalism because, when placed next to each other, people may lean towards the styling of the Baleno.

Interior

In terms of the interior, Maruti, to an extent has been able to pull off the premium look. While we felt the Elite i20 still gives a more premium feel, the Baleno’s interiors are straightforward and crisp. The interiors follow a black theme. The only beige you will find are on the pillars. The dash is all black with silver inserts at places help break the monotony. 

The whole dash carries a V design similar to the front grille.

The three spoke steering wheel gets small chrome inserts at the end of each spoke. The steering mounted music controls are large chunky buttons on the left. The phone controls are behind which is a bit uncomfortable but we got used to it over time. You get both reach & rake adjustment on the steering wheel which has now become a standard in the segment. The instrument cluster is a huge step up from what Maruti usually offers. At first glance, it appears to have been lifted off the S-Cross, but look closely and it is not the case. It runs a sporty blue theme and the MID has a host of readouts and charts that kept us, a geeky bunch, happy.  You get two identically sized dials for the speedo & rev-counter. At the bottom of each dial is an integrated dial for fuel level and temperature. 

There is a 4.2” digital screen between the both with shows you a host of things. It gives you instructions on how to start the vehicle and an analogue-cum-digital clock.  A small Baleno model shows up when you leave a certain door open showing which door is open and it also pops up when the reverse parking sensors are engaged. We had the most fun while using the power & torque charts. It shows you what portion of the total available power & torque you are using. 

That is not the end of it. You get graphical displays on fuel economy along with a distance to empty read out. You also have the option to check fuel economy or average speed over a period of time. All the settings can be adjusted from the same MID. With consumers now wanting to be in the know about everything, we love the MID. We spent way too much time exploring the MID. It was just that intriguing.  The wiper, indicator and light stalks are chubby little units. Other premium features you get on the Baleno include rain sensing rain wipers & auto headlamps. The centre console on the dash is minimalistic and we love this approach. It simply makes the cabin a better place to be in. You get a 7” infotainment system, it’s the same hardware as on the Ciaz and S-Cross, but with Apple’s CarPlay. We thought Android Auto would make more sense here. Just because of the sheer volume of Android phone in India. However, it is the first car in India to feature CarPlay and this gives Maruti bragging rights. The screen has a neat silver bezel. On either side lie vertical AC vents. 

Below the infotainment system, nestled at the bottom of the ‘V’, is the climate control system. It houses a round and crisp display. Surrounding the display are a host of chunky buttons for various air-con controls.

The bottom of the dash houses the power outlet and the USB & Aux ports. They are covered by a flimsy tab and we wonder how long it would last on constant use. There is an adjustable cup holder here. There is a single illuminated glove box at the bottom. We felt the plastic used here could be better. 

The front seats are comfortable. The driver seat is adjustable for height as well. The front seats travel a healthy amount and it is easy to get into the seat. The fabric is dull and we feel better materials could have been used for the upholstery.  

You do get a centre arm rest, but its position is a little awkward. The only purpose it serves is to act as the storage cover.  The door houses the front speakers and a tweeter. It has the console with buttons for the power windows and the wing mirror controls. They could have done with more premium switches here by providing illumination.

You also get two reading lights at the front and the cluster has the mic integrated into it. Both sun visors get illuminated vanity mirrors. 

Move to the back, and you will be impressed by the amount of space available. The 4 of us, a bunch of large people, were comfortable. All thanks to the huge wheelbase. You get large adjustable headrests. The rear doors have a large pocket for 1L bottles. The bottle holder’s design is well integrated into the door. There is a nice touch of cushioning on the door to accommodate your arm. You do not get a centre arm rest! While the competitors don’t have it too, it would have been a nice touch.

Another thing that’s missing is the rear air con vent. Something that’s available on the Elite i20. You get a single charging power outlet which is integrated at the back of the centre arm rest.  You can access the boot with your keys in the pocket (thanks to the request button) and this is handy when your hands are busy carrying all the shopping bags.

We find the interior really spacious which is a huge plus. At the same time, interiors look and feel premium. Maruti has clearly chosen function over form here. 

Performance

1.2l - Petrol 

The petrol motor is the 1.2 litre K12 found on a host of Maruti cars. It does duty in the Swift, Dzire and also the much smaller Ritz. On paper, the engine puts down 84PS @ 6000rpm and 115Nm of torque @ 4000 rpm. The leader of the pack, by a small margin, is the i-VTEC in the Honda Jazz which churns out 90PS. But what matters is the power-to-weight ratio. Here the Baleno has an advantage as it is over 150kg lighter than the Jazz. 

There is nothing new about the engine as it has been used by Maruti since a long time. While the engine feels refined and linear in its power delivery it feels just like a Swift when it comes to performance.

This petrol variant is offered with two gearbox options. A 5-speed manual and a CVT automatic. We are happy Maruti didn’t go down the AMT route here because the gearbox tends to be jerky. The manual gearbox is smooth and the CVT performs as expected. 

The NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) levels could be much better. Our guess is that insulation materials were neglected to save on weight as well as costs.

In typical Maruti fashion, the Baleno boasts of excellent fuel economy figures.

The ARAI fuel economy stands at 21.4kmpl. This is almost 3kmpl ahead of the claims by the Elite i20 and the Jazz. The Polo’s 16.5kmpl is way behind the competition. In terms of the automatics, the Elite i20 still doesn’t have an auto option and the Baleno’s 17.8kmpl lies a good 3kmpl ahead of the Jazz. 

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Honda Jazz Maruti Baleno Volkswagen Polo
Power 88.7bhp@6000rpm 83.1bhp@6000rpm 74bhp@5400rpm
Torque (Nm) 110Nm@4800rpm 115Nm@4000rpm 110Nm@3750rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1199 1197 1198
Transmission Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 172 Kmph 180 Kmph 165 kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 13.7 Seconds 12.36 seconds 14.2 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1042kg 890kg 1053kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.7kmpl 21.4kmpl 16.47kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 85.12476007677544 bhp/ton 93.37078651685393 bhp/ton 70.27540360873694 bhp/ton

1.3l - Diesel 

The Baleno’s 1.3-litre diesel mill again needs no introduction. The same engine in various states of tune is used in a host of cars by Maruti and Tata. The engine produces 75PS @ 4000rpm and puts down 190Nm of torque @ 2000rpm. This is a bit limp compared to the 100PS put out by the i-DTEC on the Jazz and 90PS by the CRDi on the i20. Even the lower weight of the Baleno won’t help it here as the difference is too high. If you want something more powerful and premium from the Maruti stable,you will have to look at the S-Cross which offers the more powerful 1.6 DDiS320 variant. 

The let down here continues to be the noise levels. The engine certainly feels better, than on the Swift, due to the lower weight of the Baleno. It has a typical diesel turbo-lag at the lower RPMs, but has decent punch on the move. 

While the diesel offers slightly more punch compared to the petrol, it feels noisier with the diesel clatter filtering into the cabin.

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Maruti Baleno Volkswagen Polo Honda Jazz
Power 74bhp@4000rpm 88.7bhp@4200rpm 98.6bhp@3600rpm
Torque (Nm) 190Nm@2000rpm 230Nm@1500-2500rpm 200Nm@1750rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1248 1498 1498
Transmission Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 170 Kmph 163 Kmph 172 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 12.93 seconds 16.1 Seconds 13.7 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 985kg 1158kg 1154kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 27.39kmpl 20.14kmpl 27.3kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 75.1269035532995 bhp/ton 76.59758203799655 bhp/ton 85.4419410745234 bhp/ton

Ride & Handling

Clearly, the Baleno’s suspension has been tuned as a city run-about. It takes potholes and slightly rough roads really well. The higher wheelbase makes it less agile but that is the price you will have to pay for larger cabin space. Having said that, we found the handling really predictable. Another thing that impressed us is the steering unit. It’s light at low speeds and well weighted at higher speeds. They really have us impressed here as when we compare it to the Elite i20 and the Jazz, their steering continues to be light at high speeds.

The car has ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear. A pretty standard affair in the segment. While the i20 was originally offered with discs all around, they got rid of them in the latest Elite avatar to save on costs. The standard ABS & EBD (Anti-Lock Brakes and Electronic Brake-Force Distribution) aids braking to a great extent.

A huge thumbs up to the suspension and steering departments at Maruti for what they’ve pulled off with the Baleno. The ride & handling is spot on for city driving conditions and the occasional highway jaunts.

Safety

The Baleno is built on Suzuki’s TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) body structure. This helps in keeping the occupants safe as well as increase pedestrian safety. 

Safety features such as ABS and EBD are standard across all variants.

You also get headlamp leveling which allows you to adjust the throw of the lamps in case of a loaded/unloaded back seat and front seatbelt pre-tensioner along with seatbelt force limiter that reduces impact and prevents you from hitting the steering/dash in case of a crash.

Variants

  • Diesel
  • Petrol
Variants Features Price
1.3 Sigma Anti-theft security system, ABS with EBD, Dual airbags, 6.44 Lakh*
1.3 Delta [ In adition to 1.3 Sigma ] Reverse parking sensors, Auto AC, Keyless entry, [ Variant 1.3 Sigma price ] + 66,096 =  7.1 Lakh*
1.3 Zeta [ In adition to 1.3 Delta ] Alloy wheels, UV cut glasses, Adjustable driver seat, [ Variant 1.3 Delta price ] + 61,234 =  7.71 Lakh*
1.3 Alpha [ In adition to 1.3 Zeta ] Reverse parking camera, Smartphone connect, Navigation system, [ Variant 1.3 Zeta price ] + 71,441 =  8.43 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
1.2 Sigma ABS and EBD, Anti-theft security system, Dual Airbags, 5.26 Lakh*
1.2 Delta [ In adition to 1.2 Sigma ] Reverse parking sensors, Auto AC, Keyless entry, [ Variant 1.2 Sigma price ] + 71,404 =  5.98 Lakh*
1.2 Zeta [ In adition to 1.2 Delta ] Alloy wheels, UV cut glasses, Adjustable driver seat, [ Variant 1.2 Delta price ] + 60,494 =  6.58 Lakh*
1.2 CVT Delta [ In adition to 1.2 Zeta ] All features of 1.2 Delta, Automatic transmission, [ Variant 1.2 Zeta price ] + 44,325 =  7.03 Lakh*
1.2 Alpha [ In adition to 1.2 CVT Delta ] Reverse parking camera, Smartphone connect, Navigation system, [ Variant 1.2 CVT Delta price ] + 26,246 =  7.29 Lakh*
1.2 CVT Zeta [ In adition to 1.2 Alpha ] Automatic transmission, All features of 1.2 Zeta, [ Variant 1.2 Alpha price ] + 34,638 =  7.63 Lakh*
1.2 CVT Alpha [ In adition to 1.2 CVT Zeta ] Automatic transmission, All features of 1.2 Alpha, [ Variant 1.2 CVT Zeta price ] + 70,571 =  8.34 Lakh*

The Baleno is offered in 4 different variants for both the petrol & diesel. 

The base variant (Sigma) misses out on rear power windows and an entertainment system. These are the features that most people would look for in a premium hatch so we suggest you steer clear. The next variant (Delta) is our pick of the lot. It offers great value and has features such as steering mounted controls for the audio system, keyless entry, and power windows. 

The next variant (Zeta) features things such as LED DRLs, alloy wheels, fog lamps and start-stop button. This variant, because of its features, give it a true premium feel. We think this will appeal to most of the people who have their eyes fixed on the Baleno.

The top end variant has features that add to form more than function.

The top end (Alpha) gets a reversing camera, Apple’s SmartPlay system and projector headlamps. We don’t see these features as essentials and will only help you in standing out against the sea of Baleno’s that Maruti is churning out. 

 

Maruti Baleno similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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