Maruti Suzuki is on a roll this year. After a lull, Maruti Suzuki has already introduced its third new car in the Indian market – the new-generation Baleno. While it may not look like there are a lot of changes in the new-generation Baleno, it is an all-new car built from the ground up! It gets a new-generation platform, new features, sharper looks and a few mechanical changes as well. We drove the both AGS and manual version of the new-generation Baleno and here is what we think about it.
Why new Maruti Baleno looks similar to the old one?
Why change something that is not broken is the philosophy used by Maruti Suzuki. It is an evolution of the old design of the Baleno. Think of it as the design upgrades of the Maruti Suzuki Swift over the years. The overall design remains the same but it becomes sharper.
Maruti Suzuki has done the same with the new-age Baleno. There are subtle changes that make the new-age Baleno look much sharper and younger than before. But since it is an evolution of design, you will find many similarities with the previous-generation model.
There is a new wider grille at the front. It is the only part in front that gets chrome accents. The shape of the headlamps are similar but the internals has changed completely. The new Baleno gets completely new all-LED headlamps with tri-arrow DRLs. The new DRLs definitely catch a lot of attention and are very bright as well.
The bumper is new and houses the LED foglamps. Maruti Suzuki has also updated the bonnet position. On the side, the new car comes with new 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels. There is chrome on the door handles and the window line as well.
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The rear of the new Baleno gets some major changes. The highlight is the split tail lamps set-up. The new lamps are much bigger than before and attract a lot of attention. In fact, it is easier to make the Baleno from the rear. The part of the tail lamp on the tailgate is a dummy and does not work.
Overall, the new Baleno has definitely improved and has become much sharper than before.
What has changed inside the cabin?
The cabin also gets the same evolutionary changes. Starting with the dashboard design, which is very similar to the outgoing model, you will notice a lot of additional features in the car. The Baleno gets an all-black cabin with a long list of features. One of the major improvements is the door thud. It is much better than before and the doors feel heavy. While Maruti Suzuki said that there is an increase of 55kg, the additional weight is distributed between the updated structure and additional equipment like the airbags, new infotainment system and other new parts.
Starting with the 9.0-inch infotainment system, the new Baleno has become feature-loaded. The 9.0-inch SmartPlay infotainment system gets a host of features including 40 plus connectivity features that can be controlled through an app. There is no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity yet but Maruti Suzuki will release a software update to add these features to the car. This is the best-ever screen that we have seen on a Maruti Suzuki car and it is very crisp and sharp.
It also gains on segment-first features like a 360-degree camera system. It is a unique feature that captures the surroundings in 3D and displays it right when you start the car. There are two different angles that you can check while manoeuvring the vehicle through tight spaces. We loved the integration of the 3D maps.
The steering wheel will remind you of the Swift but it is bigger in size. It gets a leather wrap that makes it very premium to feel and touch. The multifunction buttons on the steering wheel can be used to control the infotainment system and the cruise control system.
The instrument cluster is still operated by the long sticks coming out of the dials. The instrument cluster is tweaked with minor changes and it retains the digital MID as well.
Just above the instrument cluster sits another first-in-segment feature – the Head-Up Display or HUD. The HUD works very well and shows information even from the climate control system. The display is bright and there is no problem using it during broad daylight. You can retract it neatly by pushing a button.
The climate control system gets new toggle buttons. The new Baleno also gets automatic day-night IRVM.
Does it offer a lot of space?
The space remains unchanged inside the cabin as compared to the last-generation model. The Baleno gets new seats that look extremely comfortable. But these new seats are very soft. While they provide instant comfort, you can get body ache if you drive the car for long hours. Maruti Suzuki says that they will bring new seat covers for the customers who like stiffer seats.
There is an ample amount of space in the car. The Baleno gets a lot of space to keep small items and there are two cup holders in the central console. The armrest is not adjustable but there is small space under it.
The rear seats get a lot of space. There is an ample amount of headroom and legroom. But the middle passenger will feel like an unwanted guest. Maruti Suzuki has not provided an adjustable headrest there. Well, the rear passengers also do not get a foldable armrest, which feels like a big miss. There are climate control vents in the rear and two USB chargers as well.
Maruti Suzuki also misses out on the sunroof. However, the brand says that the addition of the sunroof will change the dynamics of the car and eat into the headroom.
How is the new Maruti Suzuki Baleno to drive?
With the newly updated chassis and the suspension system, the new Baleno gets the same old 1.2-litre VVT engine. It is currently the only engine available with the model. The four-cylinder engine generates a maximum power of 90 PS and a peak torque of 113 Nm.
Maruti Suzuki offers manual and AGS with the new Baleno. Maruti likes to refer to the AMT gearbox as AGS. There is no full-fledged automatic like before but the AMT or AGS does the job. Maruti Suzuki aims to target the customers who want automatic cars at an affordable price with the new Baleno and the AGS does the perfect job.
We first drive the AGS or the AMT version and were instantly impressed. It is the best ever AGS available with a Maruti Suzuki car ever. It is very well-tuned and you do not feel the gear shifts most of the time. The AGS also responds to the inputs very well. Hit the pedal to the metal and the engine holds the RPM till the redline! Drive it around with a light foot, the gear shifts happen at a much lower RPM.
The manual transmission is much more fun to drive as it allows you more control over the shifts and the clutch. The clutch of the manual transmission is very light as well.
Driving the new Baleno, you feel that a lot has changed under the hood. The ride quality has improved a lot and the Baleno behaves much more maturely on the broken roads. The handling remains similar to before but Maruti Suzuki has worked on the steering returnability to the centre quite a lot. The steering now behaves very well. There is a limited body roll.
The new Baleno has also become more fuel-efficient than before.
- Maruti Suzuki Baleno MT: 22.35 km/l
- Maruti Suzuki Baleno AGS: 22.94 km/l
- Hyundai i20 1.0-litre turbo petrol: 20.25 km/l
Is the new Baleno a good choice?
Maruti Suzuki has made the new Baleno much more practical than before. It is much better to drive, much safer than before as well. Apart from increasing the weight of the car, Maruti Suzuki has added as many as six airbags. It is overall safer than before.
The new Baleno starts at Rs 6.35 lakh making it a very value-for-money choice. It definitely has an edge over the others if you want a fuel-efficient car with practical features. The new Baleno is a good car made better.
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