Maruti Suzuki has just launched its most premium hatchback ever, the Baleno. Prices of the car start at 4.99 lakh rupees for the petrol base variant, going up to 8.11 lakh rupees for the diesel top-end variant, ex-showroom Delhi. The engines on the Baleno are familiar units – the 1.2 liter K-Series petrol (84 Bhp-115 Nm) and the 1.3 liter fiat Multijet diesel (74 Bhp-190 Nm). 5 speed manual transmissions are standard while the petrol gets a CVT automatic option. Fuel efficiency is rated at 21.4 Kmpl for the petrol, and a class leading 27.39 Kmpl for the diesel, both figures ARAI certified. The car’s sold in 9 variants.
Baleno variant-wise prices
Sigma – 4.99 lakhs, Delta – 5.71 lakhs , Zeta – 6.31 lakhs and Alpha – 7.01 lakhs
Delta – 6.76 lakhs
Sigma – 6.16 lakhs, Delta – 6.81 lakhs, Zeta – 7.41 lakhs and Alpha – 8.11 lakhs
One big takeaway. The Baleno’s based on an all-new, lightweight platform, which means that the car weighs 75 kilograms lesser than the Swift. This new platform will underpin the next-generation Swift, due in 2017. Here’s another one. The Baleno is the first budget car in the country that gets ABS and Twin Airbags as standard fare. Maruti knows that 2017 is when these features will become mandatory on all cars sold in India. So, why wait seems to be the automaker’s refrain. Full marks for the initiative, Maruti. And here’s yet another. 180 mm ground clearance, the best in its class.
The car goes against the Hyundai Elite i20 and the Honda Jazz, which means that Maruti needs to offer above average equipment levels, especially since the Baleno’s already a little late to the party. Apart from safety as standard fare, you get plenty of features on the top end variants. Automatic headlamps, a reverse parking camera, touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay integrated, UV resistant glass, automatic climate control, steering mounted audio controls, electrically adjustable and retracting wing mirrors, TFT multi-information display and a 60:40 split for the rear seat are some of the noteworthy features on offer.
Built at Manesar, the Baleno will be exported to over 100 countries, and that includes ones in Europe. But all that’s for later. For now, it’s India that gets to sample the Baleno, first, even before Suzuki’s home market of Japan. India’s very important for Suzuki, and perhaps the most important market in the world, and the Baleno’s world premiere in this country signifies just that. Meanwhile, the Baleno will be exclusively sold through NEXA dealerships, and bookings have been open for a while now. Deliveries start right from today.
In a year or two, Maruti is likely to add a 1 liter-3 cylinder BoosterJet turbo petrol engine (110 Bhp-170 Nm) to this car. This engine will be standard on the export variants though, with 6 speed manual and automatic gearboxes. The Suzuki Hybrid Vehicle System could be made available on both the petrol and diesel variants in due course of time. For now though, Maruti Suzuki’s immediate aim will be to take the fight up to the Hyundai i20 Elite, a best seller that’s still a very formidable competitor.