German and Korean rivals came up with premium cars like VW Polo, Hyundai Elite i20 in the luxury hatchback segment below 1 million. Where, MarutuSuzuki was offering only Swift to fight them. Now as we all know that swift was aging rapidly and getting a bit dated, where other brands started offering more features and value, swift was just getting small changes and little updates. It was time to give something premium and what offers more value to customers!
With old name and big dreams, MarutiSuzuki launched the new premium hatchback Baleno! The car that changes the definitions of looks, feel, space and many more. A premium car, which will be sold through exclusive NEXA dealerships in India. See this car from any angle, whatever is your age, this car is a beauty and you will give a second look for sure. Exterior design is very nice. This car is weighs only 865 kilos, and around 100 kilos lighter than its sibling Swift. Using high-tensile steel this is 10% stronger than the previous gen platform. All the variants comes with Dual Airbags and ABS.
Outside the car:-
From front to rear bumper, this car is a beautiful. In the front, car houses projector headlight, surrounded by LED day time running lights. A small grill is there in the centre that completes the beautiful look of the car paired by a chrome strip that ends in the headlight housing. Move backwards, and a simply designed bonnet is there.
Rear of the car can attract you more. Rear windscreen is raked a lot and brake lights are thick. Side profile has no straight lines; all the lines are flowing like liquid. At the rear, the car has a slopping roof that makes car look good. In the length, Baleno is exactly as long as its sibling Swift Dzire. So boot space is a boon for Indian customers.
16” alloy wheels have simple design but they grow on you. Top model comes equipped with LED DRLs and projector headlights, where lower models don’t have them and they come with Swift like headlights. ORVM comes mounted on door to increase rear visibility, unlike other hatches. ORVMs have those integrated turning lights.
Front and rear bumpers are simple in design. Car comes equipped with rear parking sensors and a single reverse camera to aid you in reversing the car. Both the wheel wells have cladding to reduce road noise coming inside cabin.
Overall exterior package is beautiful and well put together. Panel gaps are almost consistent all around.
Put the key in your pocket and press the request sensor on the door to unlock the car with two “beep beep” sound. Open the door and sit inside the one of the most comfortable driver seats among the so called premium hatchback segment. Seats are quite comfortable and can be adjusted for height, too. The steering wheel can be also adjusted for reach and rake. So whatever your height or body built is, you’ll easily find your comfort space in the car very easily.
The quality used in interior is again good; it’s not the best but is above your expectations. Start the engine with a press of a button, and there isn’t any noticeable vibration inside the cabin, this 1.2L naturally aspirated 4 cylinder 4 valve petrol engine is very refined. All the buttons and plastics feel very sturdy. Dashboard design is really ergonomic as it’s a Maruti obviously.
Coming to the centre console, It is simple but attractive. It houses a 7” touchscreen, which has built in CarPlay by Apple. You can connect your iPhone with it and have fun with Siri’s voice commands without taking hands off your steering wheel. For connectivity, it has option to connect phones or iPods via Bluetooth, USB, AUX and SD card. Sound quality of the car is also nice. This touchscreen unit doubles up as reversing camera and navigation screen with pre-loaded maps in SD card.
Below that, you’ll find a funky looking circular temperature display with white easy to read fonts. Below that and in front of the gear lever, there is a space to put your mobile. There is provision to juice up your mobile with in car charging port. All the doors have pockets that can house 1L water bottles. There is a hand rest which is placed quite backwards, and can’t provide much support, open the top of that and you’ll find some storage space.
Space in the front seat is adequate for even tall and heavy passengers. Ingress and egress in the rear is an easy job. But the slopping roof line will eat up some of the headroom for taller passengers. Though a six footer person can seat behind a six footer person is an achievement. There is no AC vent for the rear passengers, though the hand rest in the front houses a charging point to juice up your small electronic gadgets. Rear seat is adequately spacious for 3 adults.
Most of the cabin components are black, but you won’t feel claustrophobic in the car. The top is though beige in colour. This is one of those cars which have oodles of features, you just name it and there is one waiting for you already. Overall interior of the car is comfortable, spacious and almost good built.
How does it drive?:-
With light body weight and a good engine you will expect this car to do speeds. Yes Baleno definitely feels fast and stable on any speeds thrown to it. Overall ride quality is pleasant and neutral. You won’t get a sports car feel from it but yes Maruti is expert in in suspension set up for India, so the ride will remain comfortable most of the time.
As it’s lighter than sibling Swift, Baleno picks up very nicely. Petrol variant will feel fast enough on open highway stretches with 83bhp under the hood. Diesel one having just 74bhp feels nice to drive but when it comes to competition like Elite i20 and Honda Jezz having around 90 & 99bhp under their hood, Baleno will stand weaker.
Brakes feel adequate even in emergency situations. Steering is very light for slow speed city commute. It gains weight when needle climbs up in the speedometer though doesn’t get very heavy. Chassis of the car is well balanced, you won’t feel bending in it while encountering big potholes.
There are 2 engine options available, one is 1.2L VVT petrol and second is 1.3L DDiS Turbo diesel. Engine comes mated with 5 speed manual transmission or you can opt for petrol CVT option.
Car is built nicely, though not tank solid but is acceptable. Plastic quality in side the car is just above satisfactory, no special things here.
Car has almost all the features currently available in this segment.
At the end of 2016, a 1.0L Turbo Petrol is expected to launch in India. Maruti seems to skip insulation classes now a day.
Engine tune filters inside the cabin, though it is not annoying but while throwing premium tag such care is needed.
ARAI fuel efficiency is claimed 27.3 kmpl, which is really high. And for petrol variant it’s 21.4 kmpl.
What works for?
- Smooth, pleasant and comfortable ride quality.
- Tried and tested petrol and diesel power houses. Great gearboxes on offer with automatic CVT option.
- Practical and well put together cabin.
- Loaded with gizmos, you name it.
- Dual front airbags and ABS with EBD comes standard across all the variants.
- You can fit 5 people with ease.
- Lot of in cabin storage space and well-shaped boot to accommodate lot of luggage.
What works against?
- It it not built like a tank. Feels lighter. Maruti claims that it doesn’t affect the strength of the car, but not like German rivals.
- Cabin material is nice though not premium.
- Front seats are more comfortable; rear seats are not as comfortable.
- CVT transmission has rubber band effect.
- Long waiting periods.
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