The first generation Baleno was a very respected product from Maruti Suzuki. Sold between 1995 to 2002, it had buyers even in the used market after it was gone. Is the new Baleno then, a worthy successor? Launched in October 2015, the new Baleno manufactured exclusively in India was designed at Suzuki’s Style Center in Turin, Italy. Now you know, how it got the Italian curves and those killer looks. The Italians are really good in the design department. The result is clear, the Baleno looks drop dead gorgeous especially with those DRLs and projector headlamps. It comes with all the latest trending goodies as well. Let me take you through the details.
The front has a graceful smiling grill and the LED DRLs with projectors that make the car look almost exotic. The curves are carried all the way through the sweeping body lines on the side profile to the back of the car. The Baleno looks gorgeous from every angle that you may see it from. It even comes with trendy colour options none of which look boring. Choose the Baleno in any colour and you have a lovely looking car. There is even an RS body kit available at a good price which does not affect the ground clearance much. The car I drove came in Autumn Orange colour with contrast Granite Grey Body Kit. Most of the body kits on other cars tend to reduce the ground clearance and scrape on speed bumps but this one doesn’t. Without the kit the car runs with 170 mm of ground clearance.
Reverse camera neatly integrated in the chrome strip on the boot lid.
Automatic Climate Control
7″ Infotainment system.
The Baleno Alpha, the top of the line variant comes with a long list of features. You will get Electrically adjustable and foldable Rear view mirrors, reverse parking sensor with camera, 7″ infotainment screen, USB/AUX/CD/Bluetooth, Voice command, offline satellite navigation, Smartphone connect, Apple CarPlay, Steering mounted controls, auto dimming mirror, auto headlamps, High Definition MID (instrument cluster), Start/Stop button with smart key, automatic climate control etc. On the safety front,the Baleno gets ABS with EBD and dual airbags across the entire range.
Engine: The car i got my hands on was a petrol manual version. A 1.2L Petrol engine produces 83 BHP power and 115 NM of torque. There is also an automatic transmission that gets a CVT Gearbox in the petrol. The diesel version gets only a manual gearbox and no option for an automatic. The 1.3L diesel power plant produces 74 BHP power and 190 NM of torque. The famous DDiS diesel engine returns a mileage of around 25 kmpl while the petrol VVT will give you an efficiency of around 18 kmpl.
1.2L Petrol engine produces 83 BHP power and 115 NM torque
The petrol motor that i drove was quite rev-happy and could smoothly rev up to the redline. It also has a huge power band and max. power kicks in at 6000 rpm. There is an evil version, Baleno RS scheduled to launch in the Indian market soon. The RS will get a 1.0 litre turbo boost engine which will produce more than 100 BHP power. Cracker of an engine meeting a gorgeous body, should be a great deal. I’m sure many enthusiast buyers are waiting for the RS to come.
Interiors: Like the exteriors, the inside of the Baleno is all modern and well designed. The MID instrument cluster has a sophisticated premium look. It immediately makes you feel you are in a premium luxury car. The dashboard has a clean modern look. The cabin is completely black all around which may not be to everyone’s taste but it sure does look premium. You get an armrest with storage up front to make a comfortable seating posture on long drives. The top end variant even gets a leather wrapped steering wheel and vanity mirror with lamps behind the sun visor.
The cabin is actually more spacious than it looks because of the black colour. Especially at the back, this car is very spacious. It can seat 3 with enough leg room. Its is one of the most spacious back seats among the hatchbacks. The boot, at 339 lts capacity isn’t small either but the high bumper causes the boot lip to sit high, causing a bit of an exercise while loading/unloading luggage.
At 339 lts the boot is spacious but the high bumper makes it difficult to load/unload luggage.
Driving experience: The petrol engine loves to be revved and even sounds nice when revved hard. The acceleration is decent but there is this clutch pedal that has a lot of travel. You need to press it all the in to the foot well. In fact, I ended up grinding the gears a couple of times when I tried to make a quick gearshift. It needs some time to get used to. In fact, quick shifts are jerky even if you operate the clutch completely. I’m not sure if the Baleno can be driven with quick shifting of gears. An automatic then, may be, is the right option to go for.
Other than the erratic clutch, driving the Baleno seems sorted. The top end variant runs on 16″ alloys and 195/55 R16 tyres which provide sufficient grip and performance. It is very bold of Maruti Suzuki to give an hatchback a 16″ wheel especially for Indian road conditions. Fortunately we are now moving away from times when manufacturers used to downsize the wheels to suit our road quality which sometimes make the car lose its charm and design.
Summing it up: A Maruti Suzuki is always affordable when it comes to running cost or maintenance. With that Italian design and loads of space, you can not really expect more from a car for at least this price segment. It is definitely worth considering if you are in the market for a premium looking feature packed, hassle free, small family car for under 10 lakhs. There is an option for automatic gearbox for those who find this particular clutch uncomfortable. For the driving and power hungry enthusiasts, there is a more ‘fun to drive’ version on it’s way, the Baleno RS. So basically, there is a type of Baleno for everyone. You make the choice!