September 28, 2022

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Savvy Car Technicians

Maruti Suzuki Baleno review – Bigger and better than a Swift?

Back in 2015, Maruti launched the all-new Baleno and it shared nothing in common with the original sedan that was launched in the early 2000s. The new car is a hatchback that is aimed at the premium hatchback segment and is also bigger than a Swift, putting it in Hyundai i20 and Tata Altroz territory.

Talking looks

The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is wider and longer, but let’s put size aside for the moment and talk about the facelift it received in 2019. The changes lie up-ahead, so you get a new two-slat grille with chrome underlining it, new projector headlights and a restructured front bumper. The bonnet too, gets a sharper definition. The side profile shows you that the wing mirrors are mounted on the doors instead of the pillars. The door handles get a chrome finish. The diamond-cut alloy wheels are new and what we like is the rising window line and the sloping rear windscreen, giving it a rather sporty appearance. Even the tail section, although a bit hunched, looks quite nice with neatly designed tail lights and a chrome bar rounding off the look at the back.

Anything new?

Step inside and what is immediately apparent is the fact that you are sitting in a model made by Maruti Suzuki Cars. However, there are some contemporary bits that help it stay fresh among its rivals. The steering and control stalks are familiar Maruti fare, and everything you feel and touch is built keeping in mind costs. The plastics aren’t particularly upmarket and the seat fabric doesn’t impress either. Also, the all-black cabin is a bit dull but the driver interface is pretty good. The instrument panel is neat and features a 4.2-inch TFT display that incorporates various functions. There’s a trip computer that calculates average speed, average fuel consumption, range and real time. It also features a 7.0-inch SmartPlay infotainment screen that’s placed in the middle of the V-shaped central console, featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The system is easy to use. Thanks to the long wheelbase, the cabin is big and provides ample comfort, space and storage areas. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is slightly short on headroom but rear seat space is good. The cabin is also wide enough to accommodate three at the back. We just wish the seats were bolstered properly.

At the front, the seats are huge and provide ample thigh support, but the cushioning is a bit on the soft side. The front seats are very comfortable. At 339-litres, boot space is good and huge suitcases can be placed inside.

Dual-jet power

Maruti Suzuki’s new Dual-jet petrol engine is quite a hoot to experience and works well on this lightweight Maruti. The motor has a good mid-range and gets off to a start without any hesitation. Part throttle response is good as it helps get you through traffic. However, in order to stay in the engine’s powerband, you’ll have to downshift frequently. Because of its lightweight frame, the Maruti Suzuki Swift feels eager. The engine is smooth and refined, and even when you rev it all the way to 6200rpm, there is some coarseness that can be heard from the engine. The gears shift smoothly and the light clutch makes driving it in the city a breeze. However, you also get the option of a CVT automatic model, and surprisingly, does not hamper fuel economy. The CVT is responsive at low speeds; gently dab on the throttle and the Maruti Suzuki Baleno surges ahead. But you can sense the rubber-band effect after 4000rpm, meaning the revs climb while the engine sounds like it is being strained. If you’re driving within the city, the CVT ‘box is perfect, but we wouldn’t recommend it for highway use.

Hit the tarmac

We were happy to note there is a level of maturity in the ride and handling of the Baleno. Being a lightweight car, we expected it to get unsettled by crosswinds, but it manages itself very well. Stability in a straight line is excellent, thanks in part to the long wheelbase. Also, the well-balanced suspension supplements the Baleno’s on-road dynamics. Ride quality is decent as the suspension soak in the bumps well, without making a noise. The steering is quick to respond, making it decent around the bends. However, the Swift still betters it in this regard. But that isn’t to say the Baleno doesn’t inspire confidence at high speeds. Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.