Mauti Suzuki has been offering a low-cost hybrid solution on the Ciaz, Ertiga and the S-Cross for a while and now seems all set to extend the same technology to the Baleno premium hatchback as well. I happened to spot a test car today in Delhi and the boot clearly had the ‘Smart Hybrid’ badging slapped on. Hit the play button to see the car in action.
This Baleno Smart Hybrid wasn’t camouflaged which means it is production ready and should be hitting showrooms soon. This particular model wore the Magma Grey shade and seems to be the top spec model with all the bells and whistles. This is the updated 2019 model that was launched a while back and visible changes are the new alloy wheels and different bumpers. Apart from the rear Smart Hybrid badge, there is no visual change on this one.
It isn’t clear what fuel type the Smart Hybrid tech be offered with. Maruti currently offers this with the 1.3 DDiS diesel motor as well as the new K15 petrol engine that powers with the Ciaz. The Baleno does come with the 1.3 DDiS unit but in a lower state of tune vis a vis the Ertiga, Ciaz and the S-Cross. Interestingly, Maruti also manufacturers a 1242cc petrol engine for the Baleno that is offered with Smart Hybrid for countries like the Netherlands. This will not be practical for India as it will not qualify for small car tax benefits (being over 1200cc). So if Maruti wants to offer the Baleno Smart Hybrid with a petrol motor, they will need fresh R&D – this will jack up prices.
So what is Smart Hybrid tech? In Maruti’s own words, “Smart Hybrid is an advanced technology that helps increase fuel efficiency and enhances driving performance. The engine automatically stops when idle and silently starts when the optimal conditions are met in manual and automatic transmissions. It comes with a dual battery setup including a Lithium Ion Battery. These high capacity batteries store the energy generated during braking to assist the engine’s idle start-stop and the torque assist functions. The energy stored in the Lithium-ion battery assists during acceleration which helps engine in providing optimal acceleration and performance.” In real world, there is a marginal increase in performance and a healthy reduction in fuel consumption.
There is no official confirmation from Maruti yet. Will they launch this one sooner than expected? Our fingers are crossed!