Why India Loves the Maruti Baleno

Spinny Assured Maruti Suzuki Baleno
By - Team Spinny
February 11, 2023

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for India and the Maruti Baleno, first launched as a sedan in 1999. But Maruti learned the lessons from that failure and made the new Baleno everything that its predecessor was not. Resurrected as a premium hatchback in 2015, the Baleno was now clothed in a more contemporary design and offered a competent feature list, practical powertrains, ample interior space, and an affordable sticker price.

Maruti hit paydirt with this combination as the Baleno set the sales charts on fire, quickly becoming (and continuing to be) India’s best selling premium hatchback. After selling over 10 lakh units since 2015, the company updated the Baleno in 2022. The new car was an even bigger success, going on to become India’s best selling car for a few months. What explains this love of the Indian car buyer for the Maruti Baleno? Read on to know more.

Premium on the outside

The basic design of the Maruti Baleno has remained the same since the first hatchback was launched in 2015. However, the 2022 update took the proverbial chisel to the sculpture and made the Baleno a leaner and a more premium-looking car than the older one. 

A flatter and wider bonnet, sharp LED headlamps, LED tail lamps with Nexa’s familiar three-block signature that extend onto the tailgate, chrome strips under the window line, and dual-tone precision-cut 16-inch alloy wheels help the Baleno strike that sweet balance between looking sporty and premium. 

This helps the Baleno appeal to a wide section of Indian car buyers while also retaining a sense of freshness about its design, a commendable feat considering how many of these cars are already on the road.

Spacious on the inside

Baleno interior

While not the largest in its segment, the Baleno translates its dimensions very well to a comfortable cabin for 5 adults. Its seats offer excellent lateral and shoulder support, keeping fatigue at bay on the longest of drives. Further aiding comfort for rear-seat passengers are rear AC vents and charging ports. 

The interior quality of the Baleno, unlike its exterior design, underwent a sea change with the 2022 update as it now gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel, sporty-looking analogue instrument dials, and plastics finished in a rather bold blue and black. Overall, the Baleno’s interior exudes a premium and airy feel that’s distinctly upmarket, making the car sought-after among buyers wishing for a more premium yet spacious interior.

Best-in-class Fuel Efficiency

2022 Baleno Facelift Overview

Maruti offers the Baleno with only one engine option, a 1.2-litre DualJet petrol, that produces 90 PS and 113 Nm and is mated to either a 5-speed manual or AMT transmission. While this engine is offered with mild-hybrid technology in some other Maruti models, the Baleno makes do with only the idle engine start/stop tech.

However, you’re unlikely to miss the hybrid technology or even the older Baleno’s diesel engine as the new engine delivers a superlative 22.35 kmpl with the manual and 22.94 kmpl with the AMT, making the Maruti Baleno the most fuel-efficient premium hatchback in India.

The idle engine start/stop mechanism can be credited for these figures as it turns the engine off when it idles in neutral, only to turn it back on as soon as you press the clutch pedal. This makes the Baleno a frugal city-slicker that can turn into a decently fast steed come the highways.

Excellent Value for Money

Maruti is known for producing budget-friendly vehicles and the Baleno is no exception. Despite being a product from its premium Nexa stable, the Baleno offers a good balance between features and price. For instance, its 9-inch infotainment system is the second largest in its segment. 

The Baleno also clocks a few firsts in the premium hatchback segment as it’s the only one yet to offer a head-up display and a 360-degree camera. The head-up display packs in a tonne of info including speed, engine RPM, selected gear, real-time fuel efficiency, and even AC fan speed/temperature, resulting in a more relaxed and undistracted driving experience.

Moreover, the Baleno is also among the only two cars in its segment to offer up to 6 airbags. Combine that with a stronger chassis and body compared to the older car, hill hold assist on the AMT variants, and larger disc brakes at the front, and you have the strongest claimant to the VFM premium hatchback throne in India.

Reliable to Own

The prime reason why almost every second car sold in India is a Maruti is the brand’s proven ownership experience. The company offers the widest sales and service footprint of any car manufacturer, enabling buyers from the remotest parts of India to own and run Maruti cars for decades even. 

Maruti cars are known for being easy on the pocket to maintain. When seen in the light of the Baleno’s best-in-class fuel efficiency, this makes the car’s overall ownership not only affordable but also immensely reliable. Lastly, as it’s retailed via Maruti’s Nexa range of dealerships, the Baleno’s buying experience is also distinctly more premium than that of other Maruti cars, which is yet another draw for buyers desiring an affordable and upmarket car buying and owning experience. 

Summary

Maruti Suzuki struck gold with the Baleno by packaging it as a premium hatchback that appeals to the sensibilities, needs, and constraints of both individuals as well as family car buyers in India. Its formula of a clean design, well-laid-out cabin and features, decent interior space, fuel-efficient yet powerful engine, above-par safety equipment, and foolproof ownership experience made it the bestselling premium hatchback in India. The 2022 update has all but assured that neither that sales crown nor India’s love for the Maruti Baleno will face any threats for the foreseeable future.

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