Maruti Suzuki is India?s leading automobile manufacturer since the 1980s. Even with the spate of new entrants in the market, Maruti Suzuki still commands close to 50% of the market by volume. In the last decade, it has introduced new models at a rapid but controlled pace to keep up with the changing trends.
The Suzuki Baleno has its origin in the Suzuki Cultus Crescent, a four-door mid-size sedan, introduced in Europe and Asia Pacific in 1995. It was sold in India till 2007. In 2015, Maruti came up with the idea for a premium large hatchback and revived the Baleno name. However, it is a completely new model without sharing any mechanical details with the old Baleno sedan. It is positioned as an upgrade from the Maruti Swift hatchback. The new Baleno is exclusively manufactured in India and is presently sold in Indian, Japanese and European markets. The Baleno is sold exclusively through Maruti's premium dealership network in India, the Nexa showrooms.
The Baleno comes in both petrol (4 manual variants and 2 automatic variants) and diesel engines (4 manual variants). The variants in progressive order are named Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha (both petrol and diesel). The petrol Delta and Zeta variants come in both manual and auto transmission variants. The new Baleno hatchback falls in the sub-4-meter class. The price ranges from Rs 5.2 to 7.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the petrol variants and Rs 6.3 to Rs 8.3 lakh for the diesel variants. The car comes with a 2 year or 40000 km warranty.
Engine & Power Petrol
The Baleno petrol variants come with a K-series 4-cylinder, 1,197cc (1.2 litre), DOHC, 16-valve, VVT (Variable Valve Timing) engine made from lightweight aluminium. The engine generates 83.1bhp@6000rpm and peak torque output of 115Nm@4000 rpm. The engine is quiet and refined and almost noiseless inside the cabin while idling. The engine is built to produce better low-end torque and is very well suited for city driving. The engine provides better combustion, reduced engine friction, and lower emissions. All this adds up to the Baleno delivering best-in-class fuel efficiency. It returns a class-leading 17 kmpl in the city and about 20-21kmpl on the highways for both the manual and automatic variants.
The Baleno Diesel variants come with a 1.3-litre (1248 cc) DDiS (diesel direct injection system) with Fixed Geometry Turbocharger with intercooler engine sourced from Fiat. The engine generates 74bhp@4000rpm of max power and 190Nm@2000rpm of peak torque. The engine is a bit underpowered at low rpms but okay at higher speeds. You will feel the lack of power in city conditions with frequent start-stops with low gears. The fuel economy is a very good, class leading 22 kmpl in the city and around 27kmpl on the highways.
Both petrol and diesel engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, which shifts smoothly and effortlessly. The Delta and Zeta petrol variants also have an automatic transmission variant. The auto variants come with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with infinite gear ratios. The new generation CVT system with auxiliary gearbox provides seamless performance without letting you feel shifts, when accelerating and decelerating. This leads to a comfortable driving experience in city conditions. Remarkably the fuel economy is also good in the auto variants. The petrol variants can do 0-100 km/hr in about 13 seconds with a top speed of 150 km/hr and the diesel variants can do 0-100 km/hr in about 15 seconds and can reach a top speed of 160 km/hr. The car complies with BS-IV emission norms.
Interior and Comfort
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is a 5-seater premium hatchback. The cabin is large and spacious and has an excellent build quality. It offers a good shoulder and headroom for its occupants. The base variant, Sigma gets manual AC while the higher variants get an automatic AC with climate control. However, separate vents for the rear seats are missing which is surprising considering that the Baleno is positioned in the premium segment. The boot space is 339 litres. The rear row seats can be split 60:40 and folded to increase the boot space. It is also fitted with a huge fuel tank that has 37-litre storage capacity.
The interiors are in black colour with a black dashboard decorated with a few metallic accents. It houses a large glove box, accessory power sockets, and the control switches. The instrument cluster has a pair of analogue meters and a MID (multi information display) screen. The higher variants get a standard 2-DIN audio system having CD, USB, Aux and Bluetooth connectivity and steering mounted audio controls and the Alpha variant gets a touchscreen display with the navigation system. Power steering, power windows (all 4), push start/stop button, remote trunk and fuel lid opener, cup holders, rear parking sensors, digital odometer, tachometer, electronic multi-trip meter, power adjustable rearview mirrors (with folding), rear window defogger are some of the features in different variants. For the first time in this segment, the Baleno is equipped with special UV Cut glass that reduces the harmful UV rays and keeps the skin protected.
The Baleno measures as follows ? length x width x height ? 3995mm X 1745mm X 1500mm; wheelbase ? 2520mm; ground clearance ? 170mm; kerb weight ? 865-985kg. The Baleno?s motto is 'Made of Mettle'. Its design philosophy is based on a liquid flow concept and it has been executed very well indeed. Based on an energetic mass of water in motion, the body sports highly defined curves and powerful styling with a low flowing silhouette. The bold front fascia is accentuated with chrome to add a class of elegance. The chrome accentuations extend from the sides all the way to the rear to give a stunning look. The Baleno is equipped with projector headlamps with daytime running lamps, and rear combination lamps with LED. The outside rear view mirrors have integrated turn indicators. The lights come with follow-me-home functions that illuminate the road ahead for a short period of time after the ignition is turned off or when the doors are unlocked. The Sigma and Delta variants come with 15-inch steel wheels with 185/65 R15 tyres, while the Zeta and Alpha variants come with 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/55 R16 tyres.
Driving and Handling
Both the manual and auto transmission variants of the Baleno drive the front wheels. The sleek body is easy to handle. This car comes with a suspension featuring McPherson strut layout at the front and a torsion beam system at the rear giving a smooth ride. The electric power steering handles well and cornering is comfortable. The petrol variants lack power in the mid range while the diesel variants are sluggish in the low range. But overall it has a very good handling and a refined plush ride with minimal body roll due to the compact design. The turning radius is a compact 4.9 meters.
The Baleno conforms to the highest safety norms using Suzuki?s TECT ? Total Effective Control Technology. This results in effective absorption and dispersion of crash energy which provide higher safety for occupants. Built using stronger and safer high tensile steel, the body achieves high rigidity by placing the ?right material at the right place?. The innovative new platform has improved the crash resiliency, enhanced the rigidity and improved NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) performance.
All variants of Baleno come equipped with ABS and EBD which improves vehicle control and prevents wheel locking and skidding. Driver and passenger airbags is a standard feature in all the variants which mitigate collision forces in an event of a frontal impact. However, the rear seats are not equipped with airbags and there are no side airbags. The front seat belts come with pre-tensioners and force limiters which alleviate impact to the chest and provide excellent occupant restraint in an event of a collision. Central locking, power door locks with child safety, keyless entry, night rear view mirror, seat belt and door ajar warning, side and front impact beams, crash sensors and security alarm are some of the safety features in different variants.
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is a premium hatchback which offers an excellent ride experience with refined engines. It has ample space inside while being a sub-4-meter vehicle and compact on the outside making it very suitable for city driving and the occasional outing. The fuel economy is phenomenal. And the Baleno comes with the peace of mind of the Maruti brand?s legendary reliability and service centre availability in every nook and corner of the country coupled with low maintenance costs over a lifetime. It is priced in the similar price range as the Swift hatchback, while its looks, comfort and ride experience are superior.
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