Maruti Suzuki Baleno Hatchback Review

OVERVIEW

Maruti Suzuki Baleno is back. And this time the Baleno nametag will be seen on the boot of a new hatchback, unlike the previous model which was a Honda City-rivalling executive sedan. Maruti has been losing potential car buyers who, having no choice from Maruti, upgraded from the Swift to Hyundai’s hugely successful Elite i20. Now with the Maruti Suzuki Baleno, the company has its eyes firmly on the premium hatchback segment. This will be the second product to be sold from the Maruti’s exclusive Nexa Experience showrooms which currently sell the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross. Check On Road Price of Baleno

Lighting up the midnight sky with a spectacular display of firecrackers at a grand event in Jaipur, Maruti Suzuki officially opened bookings for the Baleno nationwide, with the official launch slated for October 26. Since the Baleno will be made in India, the new Maruti hatchback will first be sold in the Indian market, and would be later exported to over 100 international markets. So, we’re here in the Pink City driving the new car, much before international media gets their hands on it. A good feeling, this.

INTERIORS

An all new platform underpins the Baleno. The interior also are brand new and unseen on any Maruti car before. The Maruti Baleno is all about freshness, style and trend. The interior impresses and it stands out with respect to competition. Though the layout is sporty, one can’t sat the same about the quality. It has the same steering wheel with an all new TFT screen with two dials for the instrument cluster. Then there is also a large touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay. The AC vents are vertical. The all black dashboard makes it look sporty.

There is ample space inside the car, including leg room, knee room and head room. The boot has a capacity of 339 litres is more than sufficient to carry luggage for your weekend trips. The Baleno comes with dual airbags and ABS as a standard feature across all variants. There are no rear AC vents, which a disappointment. It is becoming an increasingly importVant feature.

EXTERIOR

Looks are subjective but Suzuki had made a new design that will be a part of its design language. The Baleno has a black mesh grille with somewhat Swift-like headlamp design. The LEDs add that pinch of extra flavour else without it does look a tad bland. This is the only premium hatchback to get LEDs, while the Hyundai i20 and the Honda Jazz do not get this in their headlamps

The side profile has a rising belt line for the wheel arches and then there is also a blacked-out pillars. The 16-inch tyres look a bit smaller, indicating that larger size tyres can be used on this premium hatchback. The rear does look stunning with the C-shaped tail lamps that look fabulous. The integrated rear spoiler looks sporty.

ENGINE

Powering the Baleno RS is a new 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol motor that produces 100 HP of power at 5500 RPM and 150 Nm of torque at 1700-4500 RPM. Maruti claims that the BoosterJet engine produces 20 percent more power and 30 percent more torque compared to a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine. Low end torque delivery is quite good and this means you can reduce the number of gearshifts in city traffic. The performance is peppy and quite linear. The NVH is excellent for a 3-cylinder engine. It is a free revving engine redlining at 6000 RPM. At the back straight of the BIC the Baleno RS topped at 170 km/hr in the fourth gear.

SAFETY

The Baleno RS has been launched as a single variant (Alpha). It is equipped with dual airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, disc brakes in all wheels, ABS with EBD, and has ISOFIX child-seat restrain anchorages. Driver seatbelt reminder buzzer with lamp and rear parking sensors with camera are among the other safety features.

DRIVING

The Baleno is lighter than the Swift due to a new platform and while the lightness is a boon, it’s not at the cost of rigidity as the new platform is 10% stronger. This Maruti has been softly sprung (remember, this car is made to please those who find something lacking in the Swift) and comfort is what the Baleno is aimed at. Thus the ride quality is excellent and the car absorbs almost everything in its stride, save for sharper bumps. Even on bad roads, there is little noise which is transmitted to the cabin, the suspension working silently to iron out bad tarmac. But out on the highway, road and tyre noise does get inside the cabin and in the case of the diesel, the engine’s drone further makes things noisy

The top-spec model rides on lower profile, 16-inch wheels while the lower models with higher profile 15-inch rubber is even better in the ride quality department. The Maruti Baleno features a long wheelbase which does help in giving the hatchback very good high speed stability. The handling is good and body control is excellent too, although not in the same league of the sportier Swift. What is really impressive is the steering wheel that weighs up quite well at speed and is quite quick too, feel and feedback being good enough to put a big smile on the driver’s face. Braking performance left us a bit disappointed as the Baleno doesn’t inspire confidence to brake hard and even though it’s light, the car feels a bit twitchy under hard braking, the lower trims more so with the 15-inch MRF ZVTV rubber lacking grip. The top-end model using 16-inch wheels gets Apollo Alnac 4G tyres which offer much better grip than the MRFs.

CONCLUSION

The Baleno is based on the new, Suzuki fifth-generation platform that is lighter, rigid and safer. Designs are subjective and the Baleno doesn’t top the list when it comes to styling, but what it gets is a complete package from the country’s best-selling car maker. The interior quality, the space and the drivability is one of the best in its segment. Maruti is ticking all the correct boxes with the Baleno and this is what the customers need. This is the new-generation Maruti and it stands strong, sending a signal to the competition that it is not going to stay quiet and it will not give up its market share. It is there to lead and hold on its market share. The Baleno is the first one and many more are coming in.

Maruti Suzuki is once again flexing its muscles with the Baleno and this is the segment that is already on a rise. The brand value adds on to it and it makes it a great option to buy, especially the petrol. Once the price tags are revealed that is when we can give a clear opinion. The only think that will stop buyers from getting a Baleno is the badge value that Maruti Suzuki holds in the premium segment at the moment in the premium segmen

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