The sequel to the Baleno

The sequel to the Baleno
Highlights

And it is my desire that this motor car will serve the ordinary people of India and they will have no complaint about it. I hope it will contribute in every aspect of the nation building.” While delivering her speech to a packed auditorium at the launch of the Maruti 800, the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was speaking through tears.

‘People’s car’ Maruti never grows old for the Indian market. Despite having seen ups and downs through many decades, Maruti’s new Baleno will be unveiled on Monday. It is no sedan or a rally car; it’s a premium hatch, competing and standing tall against others in the market

And it is my desire that this motor car will serve the ordinary people of India and they will have no complaint about it. I hope it will contribute in every aspect of the nation building.” While delivering her speech to a packed auditorium at the launch of the Maruti 800, the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was speaking through tears.

December 14, 1983 was clearly an emotional moment for her. Not only was it the birth anniversary of her son Sanjay Gandhi, but it also marked the fulfillment of his dream: the “people's car”.

Ever since then, the car maker’s fortunes have seen great ups and downs through the many decades of its existence. And for almost all this time, Maruti has continued to make the people’s car. “Isn’t it a good thing?” you may ask. Frankly, yes. But then, when the automaker invested in a larger car, heads turned, but fortune did not.

Baleno sedans, SX4, Kizashi and Vitara SUV, were all good cars but failed to make sufficient impression. Most of them were eventually discontinued, and Maruti went back to focus on its smaller cars and updated every nook and cranny of them, spinning more money than ever and remaining top on the game.

Cut to present, the winds are changing. Indians are surely and steadily moving to bigger and feature-driven cars. The rising popularity of crossovers and sports utility vehicles is a clear indication of that trend. Maruti Suzuki is once again thinking big and even long term, and the first step towards this was the launch of NEXA, a first-of-its-kind modern retail channel with a network of new age automotive showrooms across the country that aimed to meet the rising aspirations of emerging Indians. These showrooms host the premium cars from Maruti Suzuki, not the bread-and-butter (Altos and Swifts), which continued to roll out from general showrooms.

NEXA was special, and Maruti needed a special car here. Well, very surely, it had, thy name was S-Cross - possibly the only premium crossover available in the country. While Maruti is continuing to explore alien territories, what it has brought now to the NEXA is nostalgia. It is called the Baleno. “A decade has passed since Maruti drew the curtains on the Baleno, but pictures of Maruti Baleno rally cars with a cloud of dust and flying dirt remain etched in our minds,” writes Clint from Yahoo.

Maruti has resurrected the name, possibly the similarity with the ancestor ends there. The new Baleno is no sedan or a rally car; it’s a premium hatch, competing and standing tall against Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20. Curtains will be pulled up for the new Baleno on Monday.

Engine: The upcoming Maruti Baleno will come with a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.3-litre diesel engine. The 1.2-litre VVT petrol will churn out a maximum power output of 83bhp and maximum torque of 116 Nm, mated to a five-speed manual transmission and a CVT gearbox, while the 1.3 DDiS diesel engine will produce peak power of 74bhp and peak torque of 188Nm, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The petrol variant of the new Maruti Baleno gives a fuel efficiency of 21.4km/litre, while the diesel variant will give a fuel efficiency of 27.39km/litre.

Moreover, the new Maruti Suzuki Baleno is also the first hatchback to get the CVT gearbox.

Dimensions: The new Maruti Suzuki Baleno is 3995mm in length, 1470mm in height, 1745mm in width with a wheelbase of 2520mm.

Features: The car comes with HID Headlamps with LED Daylight Running Lamps & LED Rear Combination Lights. For safety, the new Maruti Suzuki Baleno comes with dual airbags, ABS, EBD & seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters as standard fitment from the base variant onwards.

RS Kalsi, Executive Director-Marketing & Sales, Maruti is happy with the response Baleno is drawing but said it would not be appropriate to talk on the sales in number terms yet.

When asked by Money Control if he saw uptick in the market share from the current 47.6 per cent that the company holds, he said market shares are basically determined by what the competition does; adding that introduction of this premium hatchback could add to the momentum and may enhance the market share.

He said the company is committed to double-digit growth in FY16. For the first half, Maruti clocked a growth of 12.7 per cent, which could be replicated in second half too, he said.

By:Augustin Kurian

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