June 2019 could be when Toyota Kirloskar Motors Limited (TKML) could launch the badge-engineered Maruti Baleno premium hatchback, according to a report on ACI. The Toyota-badged Baleno is likely to be pricier than the one sold by Maruti Suzuki, and will also get a stylistic makeover to reflect the new branding.
The car is also expected to borrow its mechanicals from Maruti but will dump the 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbo diesel engine option. In other words, the Toyota-badged Baleno will be a petrol-only offering, and it remains to be seen if Toyota offers the 1 liter-3 cylinder BoosterJet and recently introduced 1.2 liter DualJet mild petrol hybrid engines.
The Baleno sold by Maruti starts at Rs. 5.55 lakhs, ex-showroom Delhi, and offers airbags and ABS as standard safety features across all trims. The car is offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines options. There are three petrol engines on offer: a 1.2 liter K-Series unit with 82 Bhp-113 Nm, a 1.2 liter DualJet petrol engine with a mild hybrid option and a 1 liter-3 cylinder BoosterJet petrol engine with 101 Bhp-150 Nm. All three engines offer 5 speed manual gearboxes as standard while the 1.2 liter K-Series petrol offers a CVT automatic gearbox as an option. The diesel version of the Baleno gets a 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbocharged unit with 74 Bhp-190 Nm, and is paired to a five speed manual transmission as standard.
The Baleno is India’s best selling premium hatchback, with Maruti selling around 15,000 units of the car each month. It rivals the likes of the Honda Jazz and Hyundai Elite i20. Toyota’s version of the badge-engineered Baleno is expected to further push up sales at least by another few thousand units. The badge-engineered, Toyota branded car is expected to sit between the Liva and Etios in terms of price and positioning. Apart from the Baleno, Toyota will also badge-engineer many more Maruti Suzuki cars for the Indian market. The Vitara Brezza compact SUV, the Ertiga MPV and the Ciaz C-Segment sedans are three other cars that will be badge engineered for the Indian market.
Some of these badge engineered Maruti Suzuki cars will also be sold in other countries, particularly ones in Africa. More clarity on Toyota’s future plans will be revealed soon. For now, Toyota’s factory in Bidadi, off Bangalore, is preparing to build the Baleno. Toyota will soon start supplying hybrid technology to Maruti Suzuki for use both in Maruti and Toyota cars sold in India. The hybrid in question will be a full-hybrid unit, and will be similar to what Toyota offers in the Camry Hybrid.