The Toyota-Suzuki partnership in India has been cemented, and it’s just a matter of time before the first cars under this tie-up begin hitting the Indian roads. A badge-engineered Maruti Baleno will be the first car that is launched under this partnership. It will be launched in the second half of the Fiscal Year 2019, which means anywhere between October 2019 to March 2020.
Word on the street suggests that Toyota’s version of the Maruti Baleno will make it to the Indian market by the end of this year. The Toyota-badged car will retain the overall shape of the Maruti Baleno but with a different design to give it distinct positioning. Think of it as something similar to the Renault Duster-Nissan Terrano. Also, Toyota’s version of the Baleno is likely to be slightly pricier.
An ETAuto source had this to say about the new car,
In the second half of next fiscal, Toyota will launch its version of Baleno. There will be external tweaks for a different look but it will be more like the existing one.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice President Atsushi Oki declined to go into specifics when asked about the launch timeline and pricing details of the Toyota-badged Maruti Baleno. Here’s his statement,
Under the Toyota-Suzuki tieup, each company will sell mutually supplied vehicles under their own respective brands and nameplates. Beyond that, at this point in time, we are not in a position to discuss further details such as vehicle specifications of our future product plans.
Coming to other attributes of the car, it’s likely to be similar to the current Maruti Baleno mechanically. The Baleno is currently sold with 3 engine options – a 1.2 liter petrol making 82 Bhp-113 Nm, a 1 liter turbocharged petrol with 101 Bhp-150 Nm and a 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbocharged diesel with 74 Bhp-190 Nm. All engines get 5 speed manual gearboxes as standard fare with the 1.2 liter petrol also being offered with a CVT automatic option.
Toyota in India has been keen to go with petrol engines for smaller cars now that the Etios twins won’t be replaced. Keeping this in mind, we won’t be surprised if Toyota simply picks the petrol powered Maruti Baleno for badge engineering. Also, Maruti will not be engineering the 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet diesel engine to meet Bharat Stage 6 emission norms, which come into force from April 2020.
This means that Toyota will have to opt for the new, 1.5 liter turbocharged diesel engine developed in-house by Suzuki if it intends to sell a badge-engineered version of the Baleno Diesel. The BS6 emission norms will further increase the price differential between petrol and diesel engines due to the higher cost of making diesel engines BS6 compliant. The price premium for badge engineering and a costlier diesel engine could make the Toyota badged Baleno too expensive for success. This is why we believe that the Toyota-badged Baleno could be a petrol-only car.