When it is launched on October 26, the Baleno hatchback will try and accomplish what its namesake, the Baleno sedan, couldn’t. That is, successfully challenge the premium cars in the segment it is entering.
Over a decade ago, the Baleno sedan tried to take on Honda City—and now-discontinued Mitsubishi Lancer and Opel Astra—with little success.
Now, the Baleno hatchback will take on premium hatchback cars—Hyundai Elite i20, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo.
The competition is tough. But Maruti appears to be better prepared this time around.
First, the styling. The Baleno comes across as a harmonious combination of design that “flows”, and has an elegant and grown-up character. The company says it has been styled using Suzuki’s “Liquid Flow” design theme. (Hyundai calls its design language “Fluidic Sculpture”.)
The Baleno appears to have the best cabin quality among all Maruti vehicles. The instrument panel is flared at each end for a sense of breadth and there is a large, high-definition LCD display in the centre. It is the first car in India to be equipped with Apple CarPlay.
The luggage space, at 355 litres, is very impressive.
Suzuki has developed it on a new platform. Compared to the platform currently used in the same vehicle class, the company says that, in the Baleno, body rigidity has been enhanced by 10% and total vehicle weight reduced by 15%. This not only keeps vibration and noise in check but also leads to better fuel-efficiency.
Like its competitors, the Baleno will get both petrol and diesel engines—the 1.2-litre K12 petrol and the 1.3-litre D13A diesel. It will also get the Continuous Variable Transmission fully automatic gearbox variant. At a later stage, the new 1.0 BoosterJet direct-injection turbo petrol engine may also be introduced in the car.
By the look of things, the Baleno—with its styling, stance, premiumness and Maruti’s reliability—will be able to give a tough competition to the Elite i20 and Jazz, and strengthen the company’s position in the premium compact hatchback segment in India. It will be sold exclusively through the company’s premium dealership range, the Nexa. We expect it to be priced between R5.5 lakh and R8.5 lakh (ex-showroom).
While the Baleno in India will have similar attributes as the global model unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, there will be some India-specific USPs.
Diesel engine: In line with customer demand, a diesel engine is being offered in the India-bound Baleno, in addition to petrol.
CVT: India-bound Baleno gets the Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) fully automatic gearbox. CVT will be offered for the first time on a car manufactured by Maruti Suzuki.
Apple CarPlay: The Baleno will be the first car in India to have Apple CarPlay, which is the best way to use your Apple smartphone in a car. In fact, Maruti Suzuki will be the first OEM in India to offer Apple CarPlay for its customers.