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Crisp Summary: The Baleno is Maruti's ticket into the premium hatchback segment. It is positioned above the Swift and rivals cars like the i20, Polo and the Jazz. The Baleno is a very important car for not only Maruti but Suzuki as well - it will be sold across the globe and will be exported from India as well.
The Baleno is under 4 meters in length and the design is pretty catchy. It is a wide hatchback but sits pretty low and this gives it a sporty stance. The front end is dominated by a smile shapred chrome outline that runs from under the chrome, all the way to the 'eye lids' of the headlamps. Side profile is where you get to see the rising shoulder line which tapers off into the tail light area slightly. Rear of the Baleno is rather interesting with well finished tail lamps and a horizontal chrome line running across the width of the car. Loading lip of the Baleno is placed very high though and this could be an issue when you have couple of heavy suitcases to lift around. But at 339 litres, the boot is the second biggest in the segment after the Jazz.
On the inside, the Baleno impresses a lot. Its just not the space on offer but the long list of features and the feel good factor that has the ability to keep customers and their families happy. It also gets a touch screen infotainment system (like the Ciaz and the new Ertiga) and the cabin seems well put together for this price. Our only grouse is the 'low' and 'hammered' in feeling which is due to the low roof height. Space at the back is excellent and you can easily seat three adults without a fuss.
The Baleno gets a choice of two engine options - a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.2-litre diesel. Both these motors are also seen on other Maruti offerings. Though the power and torque outputs of the two engines are not class leading, the low kerb weight of the Baleno really helps. Infact, the car is approximately 170 and 240 kilos lighter than the Jazz and i20 respectively. As a result, performance from both the engines is really good. The petrol engine is also offered with an optional CVT and the car will soon get a 1.0-litre Boosterjet (or turbocharged petrol) unit by end 2016.
Priced from Rs 4.99 lac onwards, the Baleno offers terrific value for money and is a serious contender for the hatchback of the year award. Safety is taken care of by offering ABS and dual airbags as standard even in the base version! Note that the Baleno is only being sold via Nexa dealerships but yet has managed to become the 2nd largest premium hatchback in India and is giving the Elite i20 sleepless nights.
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