Report: P.Tharyan Photography: Joshua David Luther
Maruti Suzuki products have always been
synonymous with one expression, “Kitna
Deti hein?” It means, “How much does
the vehicle give in terms of fuel average?” The reason for this is obvious.
Maruti Suzuki has always been making vehicles for the masses and the masses have
only this question to ask. To hell with the features, to hell with the looks,
to hell with the drive and handling and to hell with everybody else, because if
you are buying a Maruti Suzuki product all you are looking at is its fuel
average. At Maruti Suzuki everything else is taken for granted.... the build,
the quality, the availability of spare parts and the easy maintenance.
changed when Maruti Suzuki decided to start a new Nexa set of showrooms. This showroom
was not meant for the aam admis (common people) of the country. Only premium
vehicles are to be sold through these Nexa outlets and the first one to plonk
itself there was the S-Cross. The S-Cross is premium when it comes to features,
road handling and driving ease, but when it comes to styling it’s a bit on the “wanting”
Petrol / Automatic
VVT 1.2 L
(1197cc) 4 cylinder DOHC petrol engine
Manual / CVT (Automatic)
(1248cc) DDiS 190 4 cylinder DOHC diesel engine
L x W x H
3995 X 1745
R15 Rear 195/55 R16
Power steering type
Rack & Pinion type
Petrol Manual / AT Price
Diesel Price (ex-showroom Delhi)
Then the name
of Baleno was announced. It’s a name many of us have heard and experienced.
Maruti did have a Baleno sedan a long while ago but that was discontinued. It
was a good car but a product which the aam
admi did not appreciate a lot. Now comes the new avatar of the Baleno and
everything seems to have brightened. The car had a global launch at the 2015
Frankfurt Motor Show. This means, the car is going to be a global player and
India is one of the markets for this car. The Baleno will be exported to over
100 countries and it has been launched in India first. So much for the
importance of the Indian market and this premium hatch!
On the looks
front, it’s appetizingly awesome. The design is fresh, smart and absolutely
stunning. By Maruti’s standards, it’s a major leap forward. The design of the
Baleno is based on a concept that is termed “Liquid Flow”. Does that ring a bell? Of course, Maruti’s
closest competitor Hyundai has a design concept known as “Fluidic Design” for
its cars. This is “Liquid Flow” and it’s equally compelling.
The design of
the Baleno is extremely refreshing, whether it is the exterior or the interior.
The curving lines, the bold shoulders and the overall flowing design of the
Baleno give it a very dynamic and energetic look and feel. Premium-ness comes
naturally to this car. The car is being offered in both petrol as well as a
diesel powertrain. The 1.2 litre petrol VVT engine and the 1.3 litre DDiS
190diesel engine are mated to a five speed manual transmission. The petrol
model has also an option of an automatic transmission. This is a Continuously
Variable Transmission (CVT). The Baleno is the first car from Maruti Suzuki to
have the CVT technology. All other automatics in its portfolio have the AMT or
the Automated Manual Transmission.
I got to
drive all the three variants. Each of them impressed me. The CVT, I presume is
for those interested in safe and easy driving. It does not have the bull power
like the others in terms of driving. The CVT eases your acceleration but gives
you tremendous comfort while driving in thick of traffic.
features, this area is another high point of the car. Like its exterior design,
the interior features are quite impressive. But before that, each of the petrol
and diesel models comes in four trim levels- Sigma (base model), Delta, Zeta
and Alpha. The Delta variant has an option of a CVT.
are uncomplicated with a premium black shade with silver ornamentation. The
dashboard is clutter free and its looks are enhanced by the multi-information
speedometer display. The 4.2 inches colour TFT displays information like clock,
average speed, the engine’s torque and power, fuel efficiency, etc. Then there
is the SmartPlay Infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen display that
accommodates what is known as an Apple CarPlay system. Now with Apple iphones
selling like real apples in the apple season, this industry-first offering is
amazing. It is basically an interface that allows the occupant to use his or
her iphone through the car’s in-built display. One can get directions, make
calls, send and receive messages, listen to music and audio books etc. The
system can also be connected to smartphones using MirrorLink. There are also
slots for USB and SD cards, thereby ensuring that entertainment is not
compromised in this car.
The car is
also packed with the usual, yet useful features like audio controls, tilt and
telescopic steering, keyless push start/ stop, reverse parking camera and voice
recognition etc. Obviously a lot of
these features are there as you move up the value chain in terms of higher trim
levels. Once seated you become aware of the space that has been created for
your comfort. There is ample shoulder room and a lot of leg room. The boot
space is incredible with 339 litre of storage. As for other storage space for
your bottles and other knick knacks, there is plenty of it built all along the
doors as well as the central armrest.
Coming to the
exteriors, the Baleno has been built on an all new generation platform which is
lighter and stronger, almost 100kg lighter and 10pc stronger than the existing
one in this category. Apart from the stylish exterior with energetic and
aerodynamic design, the car comes with 16 inches alloy wheels (for the top trim
levels), UV cut glasses for the window panes that block out harmful ultra
violet rays, high intensity discharge projector headlamps with DRLs, “Follow me
Home” headlights, stainless steel door scalps and chrome door handles, blacked
out A, B and C pillars and a roof spoiler.
has been given a lot of priority in this car. With this new generation
platform, one can be rest assured of better strength, rigidity, crash
performance and NVH. Built on Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology
(TECT), the Baleno comes with crumple zones which absorb energy in the event of
an impact, while the body frame disperses the impact energy away from the
cabin. As standard fitment there are great features like dual airbags,
seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, front disc brakes with
Antilock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
experience too was very satisfying. With both the petrol as well as the diesel
powertrains, I could experience the right power and torque as we drove along
straight and winding roads. The acceleration is good and at higher speeds, the
vehicle stability too is remarkable. The NVH levels have been perfectly fine
tuned because despite the potholes and bad roads, the quiet cabin conditions
were impressive. When it comes to the CVT, it may feel a tad slow on the take
but then CVTs are supposed to work that way, providing a jerk free acceleration
and a smooth ride. As it automatically shifts gears and moves ahead, the car
picks up speed with considerable ease. If you are looking at very zippy rides
then the petrol and diesel manual mates are good. But if you are looking for a
more hard core city driving through a maze of traffic every day of your life,
then it’s definitely an automatic for you. The car feels
well planted on the road even at high speeds and the steering is adequately
responsive and does not snatch away the fun of steering, despite it being an
electric assisted one. As for the sharp corners and turns and even the
potholes, the car handles smartly and the McPhersons and torsion beams balance
things well. With ABS and EBD being a
standard feature, one can be assured of good and effective braking. Every which
way, the Baleno is bound to impress you and could perhaps be the game changer
for Maruti Suzuki when it comes to premium vehicles.
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