The 2022 Maruti Suzuki Baleno comes in with a new design philosophy. The front end gets a new grille and the headlights are projector types. The LED DRLs feature a new design that going forward will be common for all Nexa products. The bumper too is new and houses the fog lights. The bonnet line has changed as well. The taillights are redesigned and feature LEDs. A section of the console now sits on the tailgate too. The new Maruti Suzuki Baleno is based on the company’s Heartect platform which has been heavily reworked. Hence, the suspension is all new and special work has gone into the NVH packaging as well. Compared to the older car, the new version is 5mm shorter and sits 10mm lower.
Inside, the dash has been completely redesigned and taking centre stage on it is the new 9 inch HD Smartplay Pro Plus infotainment system. The system also beams the feed from the 360 degree view camera. The climate control system now features toggle buttons. The instrument panel continues to be majorly analogue but Maruti Suzuki has added a rather fancy gadget in the form of the HUD. The display rises up seamlessly and falls to the eye easily. It can also be changed to show various performance factors.
Maruti Suzuki no longer indulges in diesel engines, so the new Baleno comes with just one petrol option. The engine is a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder motor, tuned to offer 88 bhp and 113 Nm of torque. There are two gearboxes in the offing with a 5-speed MT being the first. The second comes as a surprise as it is an AMT (automated manual transmission)! The MT version has a claimed efficiency of 22.35 kmpl while the AMT offers 22.94 kmpl.
The engine of the Baleno feels smooth and sounds delightful too. Power delivery is linear and the car takes off quite gently. With the rev counter hovering below the 2,000rpm mark, the Baleno feels a bit slow off the line but as the revs climb it takes on speed well. At high speeds, the Baleno also feels planted and inspires confidence. The 5-speed manual transmission is a slick shifter and the clutch too is fairly light. Rest assured that in creeping traffic this clutch will keep things comfortable. Another important improvement comes in the form of excellent NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) packaging. The AMT version comes with a much sprightlier feel. The gearbox takes away the lag in the MT and, overall, the shifts become a lot smoother. However, there is a clear ‘nose dive’ felt which remains a trait of the AMT. Downshifts are quicker too.
The trump card of the Baleno remains its ride quality. On rumble strips or rough roads, the suspension absorbs everything rather well. There is literally no suspension noise and this surely inspires confidence and comfort. The steering too feels well weighed and the Baleno sports a tight turning radius of 4.85 metre. This means that driving in tight spaces is going to be quite easy.