Maruti Suzuki Baleno truly has done full justice to the premium tag that it carries being sold through the Nexa dealerships. First we knew it with the name of YRA hatchback when it was in its concept period, but when the car actually came out in flesh, it looked much appealing than what we thought it to be.
Outlook & Exterior
Pardon me for this, but the Baleno to me looks as a miniature of Volvo V40 especially in the way the tapered C-Pillar incorporates the haunches.
The façade looks modest sporting a oasis look alike honeycomb grille with a sleek chrome line running underneath. The projector beam headlamps are small though but somehow manage to work with the profile of the car. Look down and the bumper looks simple but the wide overhang highlights the width of the car. Moreover, the muscular bonnet and with modest detailing on the side looks gracious and just the way a premium car should.
As you walk to the side of the Baleno, the muscular silhouette will look appealing and the 16-inch wheel that it rides on too adds some appeal to the overall profile. As you will follow, you will notice a blunt molded line that starts from the arches and meets the LED taillamp at the back making the design looks even more gracious.
Move forward and walking to the rear the profile will look urban. The bend of the C-Pillar along with it holds the tapered rear windshield and the thick chrome embellishment that runs the length of the boot, makes it look even more captivating and the small height of the boot lid extended by a big bumper adds more lure to the design language. Further, the spoiler mounted atop the rear windscreen, completes the drama.
Moreover, Baleno is 3995 mm long and 1745 mm wide. It is 1500 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2520 mm with a groung clearance of 170 mm.
Interior, Features & Ambiance
The premium tag that Maruti associates with it is actually brought to sense here as you step inside, you can feel that sense of plush, refine and I am not sure of using the word, but somewhat opulent when you compare it to older Maruti’s we were use to.
The interior of the Baleno feels plush and the material used feels premium. The all black color theme with silver highlights on the dash and the doors looks sporty and the piano black finish fringing the infotainment screen adds some niche appeal inside the cabin. The overall layout is uncluttered and inside the Baleno details like texture finish atop dash feels up-market. What further impresses is the smart use of utility spaces like cup-holders in the central console and under-dash storage making it easy to carry knick-knacks. Massive door pockets also looks enough to serve for those big bottles. That said, there are bits and pieces taken from older swift such as the power window switch assembly and the gear stick which now feels dated to look at.
The front seat of the Baleno is well bolstered for an ethnic built Indian and the cushioning is also firm enough to keep you comfortable on the long go. Apart, driver seat is also height adjustable and the leather wrapped steering wheel is tilt adjustable that feels chunky to hold. Talking about the rear, the seat feels comfortable and wide enough for three and its just the A/C vents that will bother stretching legs for middle passenger. Given the fact that it’s a hatchback, the legroom at rear is impressive and though the roof and rear is tapered, headroom will only be a little hindrance for six footers. Moreover, Baleno has a boot space of 339 liters which looks big enough to carry for four.
What else, the Baleno feature list is impressive as it is well equipped and has some add on features that are not yet standard in the segment such as day time running headlamps. Some of the other feature highlights are Engine Start-Stop; Climate Control; Power folding wing mirror, anti-pinch driver side power window, reverse parking camera assist and most importantly the Smart-play infotainment system with in-trend connectivity features like Mirror-link, remote control app for smartphone, Apple CarPlay and a Navigation System. Apart it has all other features that are standard in the segment.
Engine and Performance
Under the hood of the Baleno, in both petrol and diesel trims, there are engines with which we are familiar. Maruti Suzuki Baleno specifications are so more or less similar to the swift.
Petrol is the same 1.2-Liter 4-Cylinder engine that powers the swift and the Dzire. It produces 88hp and that is a slight more than the swift and same 115Nm of peak torque. This engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and has a CVT automatic on offer. Alike swift, even here this engine feels peppy and lively and though there is a power lag after 2700 rpm for a while, but as it gains it power band, it again feels happy to rev. In both manual and automatic trims, it can deliver 21.4 km/l on highway driving conditions and a 15.7 km/l and 15.0 km/l respectively in Indian driving cycle.
Next is the prominent multijet 1.3-Liter 4-Cylinder DDis 200 diesel engine from Fiat that powers almost all the diesel cars of Maruti Suzuki. This engine churns out 75hp and 189Nm of peak torque and is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. This engine even in Baleno has that usual sprung genesis that brings smile every time you rev it over 1750 rpm. This engine delivers a high fuel economy of 27.39 km/l on highway and 18.1 in Indian driving cycle.
Ride and Handling
After test driving Baleno, the refinement levels came to be quite apparent, as Maruti has seamlessly worked on the NVH levels and that has given Baleno a supple ride quality. The diesel engine of the Baleno becomes audible only after you rev post 3700 rpm and even the tire rumbles are well restricted until 130 km/h.
Maruti are the ones who have mastered Indian roads and that is quite speculated in a well-balanced tune of comfort and handling. The Baleno offers brilliant straight-line stability and even at charging speeds of about 140 km/h, it remains in control while changing lanes. Even while taking sharp corners at about 75 km/h, you do not loose on confidence as it tackles all those corners with minimal body rolls. Keeping the occupants in comfort, the Baleno hovers over all rough surfaces without making too much fuss and soaks those big potholes pretty well.
Now that being said, I would have liked Maruti to have work little more on the steering feedback as that would have made this ride an unbeatable package. Now by saying that I no way mean that the Baleno disappoints, even it responses good on the steering inputs. Where it asks you to work is in getting precision to hit the nose, exactly on the point you desire. Rest the steering feels accurately weighted while clocking triple digit speeds and that gives you enough confidence while maneuvering on whether in city or out on highways.
Braking and Safety
Baleno is equipped with disc brakes up-front and drums at rear. But what makes it stand out is the fact Maruti has made dual airbags and ABS standard in Baleno across variants. Now that is a big leap forward.
To define in a sentence, an over-whelming package. Baleno has all that one can ask for in the segment and I am really pleased by the space management of Maruti, not only for the Baleno but across its new product line-up. Baleno so tick the boxes for all kind of customers in this segment, whether a young office going youth, a newly married couple or the one with two kids. Not to forget, it will also please the elder ones who after retirement get a good time to spend alone.