The Baleno offers a host of features across all variants and is aggressively priced against rivals in the segment with a potential to overtake the Elite i20 in sales.
Maruti Suzuki has finally made its official entry to the popular premium hatchback space and boy has it done it right. While the hatchback may not be the sportiest in its class, it surely packs in other attributes including spacious interiors, peppy engines and good ride quality. Based on a completely new platform and loaded on features, the Baleno has been priced very aggressively undercutting its rivals by a significant margin. But is the difference substantial enough to Maruti’s advantage? We do a price comparison to find that out.
Base Variants – Starting with the petrol models, the Fiat Punto turns out to be the most affordable offering for the bare bones Active trim priced at Rs. 5.90 lakhs. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is marginally more expensive for the Sigma trim priced at Rs. 5.94 lakhs while the next closest rival is the Volkswagen Polo at Rs. 6.28 lakhs. Hyundai’s optimistically priced Elite i20 now feels bloated even more with the base price of Rs. 6.37 lakhs. The Honda Jazz turns out to be the most expensive here at Rs. 6.39 lakhs for the base E trim.
The case is similar with the diesel range as well with the Fiat Punto Evo turning out to be the most affordable at Rs. 7.12 lakhs while the Maruti Baleno is Rs. 32,000/- more expensive, priced at Rs. 7.44 lakhs. The Trendline variant of the Volkswagen Polo is up next on the price ladder at Rs. 7.78 lakhs while the Hyundai Elite i20 turns out to be priced at a Rs. 6000/- premium over the Polo at Rs. 7.84 lakhs. The most expensive model here too is the Honda Jazz at Rs. 7.93 lakhs.
In terms of features, only the Polo and Baleno get dual airbags as standard on the base trims while the Baleno gets ABS with EBD as standard but misses out on an audio system. Only the base trims of the Jazz diesel get ABS with EBD but no airbags. All models get front power windows as standard along with a manual air-con unit. The Punto and Baleno ride on 15-inch steel wheels while the Elite i20, Jazz and Polo ride on 14-inch rubber.
Mid Variants – The more sensible buy loaded with most essentials, all models get a music system with USB and AUX connectivity on the mid variants along with Bluetooth integration (missing on the Punto), steering mounted controls, remote keyless entry, electrically foldable ORVMs among other tech. While the Polo and Punto are considerably cheaper, the hatchbacks also miss out on a tonne of these features. The battle now remains mainly between the Elite i20, Baleno and Jazz in this space.
The bang for the buck factor though is best provided by the Maruti Baleno with the Delta trim priced at Rs. 6.78 lakhs, but the real show stealer is the Zeta variant that packs in almost everything from the top trim including the 16-inch alloys, but misses out on a few premium features. At Rs. 7.49 lakhs, the Zeta trim is cheaper by a good Rs. 25,000/- than the SV trim on the Jazz and a whopping Rs. 50,000/- cheaper than the Sportz (O) trim on the i20. In the diesel range too, Maruti retains its VFM quotient with a similar price difference.
Top Variants – Only the Maruti Baleno and Honda Jazz offer a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation (available on the Celebration edition of the i20) while the Baleno goes one up in providing the Apple CarPlay system, the first car in India to do so. While Hyundai did shy away from providing LED DRLs on the Elite, Maruti has incorporated the same on the Baleno along with projectors, making it the only car in the segment to offer the same.
The Abarth Punto despite a price tag close to Rs. 12 lakhs does not get similar equipment levels but does get almost twice the power output making it the most powerful model here. The top-of-the-line Polo including the Highline and GT trims get cruise control, cooled glovebox as standard features but misses out on a touchscreen infotainment system among other tech. While the top variants of the Jazz, i20 and Polo cross the Rs. 10 lakh mark, only the Punto and Baleno keep things affordable, priced at Rs. 9.81 lakhs and 9.20 lakhs respectively. In comparison, the Honda Jazz turns out to be overly expensive (Magic seats are a unique feature though) while the Elite i20 feels heavily inflated.
Verdict – It becomes quite evident that Maruti Suzuki benchmarked the Elite i20 when developing the Baleno as the model is tuned for comfort, space and being feature laden as compared to performance. While it may not be as enthusiast friendly as the Polo or Punto, the car does have tried and tested frugal engines that are also fun to drive. The Baleno triumphs its arch rival the Elite i20 in every variant while offering similar or even better equipment at a significant price difference. Given the strong pricing and features, Maruti surely has an ace up its sleeve that has what it takes to trample the i20 from the top spot.