Maruti Baleno vs Ford Figo Shootout
Maruti Baleno vs Ford Figo – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Shootout: Maruti Baleno vs Ford Figo

Shootout No. 139

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.20 – 9.03 lakhs (Ford Figo), Rs. 5.89 – 9.75 lakhs (Maruti Baleno)

The Figo has a lot going for it and is a splendid product but the Maruti Baleno is a notch better

The number of hatchbacks that are available in India is astounding to say the least. Buyers are so spoilt for choice, that once they finalise on a particular vehicle, bang comes another one which offers a bit more at a slightly lesser price. The year 2015 saw so many new vehicle launches in mass-market segments and almost all of them have something interesting to offer. The Ford Figo won our appreciation thanks to the fact that it is a properly rounded package at a brilliant price but then the Maruti Baleno also turned out to be an excellent hatchback. While the Baleno is a bit pricier than the Figo, we had a lot of people asking us whether they should buy the Maruti or the Ford since some of their variants are priced at similar levels. We decided to settle this once and for all.

Motor Quest: Both the cars are in their second generation now. The Figo has grown in size over the previous generation while the Baleno has transformed from a sedan into a hatchback. Also, both of their previous generations were a lot more engaging to drive than the current lot.

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The Figo looks compact while the Baleno has a bigger profile

Styling – Both the cars have a different styling approach but still both of them are very good looking in their own way. The Baleno may remind us of the Swift from the front but the company’s designers have done an excellent job in making this hatchback. The styling of the Baleno is very youthful and there is a sporty appeal to the vehicle too. The headlights look similar to the those of the Swift but the uniquely designed front grille is one of the nicer looking elements on the car. The Figo on the other hand has simple headlights but it is the Aston Martin inspired grille that really stands out.

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The Baleno has a slightly more sportier appeal than the Figo

Both the cars have a very pleasant design, offered in good colours too

The side profile of the Figo is simplistic and the car definitely looks slightly shorter in length as compared to the Baleno. The Baleno again has a sporty side profile and the raked rear windscreen looks really cool too. The rear of the Figo looks very sophisticated and the Baleno also has a smart design. The Baleno also comes with a standard spoiler on the hatch. The alloys on the Figo are a bit non-appealing while the multi-spoke wheels on the Baleno look like wheel caps. The Maruti also gets a long and rather eye-catching chrome garnish on the boot lid.

Maruti Baleno vs Ford FigoMaruti Baleno vs Ford Figo Comparison

The Ford Figo’s dashboard is similar to the EcoSport, space availability is pretty good

Interiors – Both the cars come with an all-back dashboard with silver inserts but it is the Baleno which feels more premium. The Figo has strong build quality on the inside but somehow it just lacks the premium feel that the Baleno has. However, while the Figo has consistent quality in its interiors, it is the Baleno that has some cheaper bits like the switches that have been lifted straight from the Swift. Something that both the cars offer is excellent support from the front seats and very good frontward visibility. One thing that I noticed is that the headrests on the front seats of the Baleno are placed a bit backward and could lead to an awkward driving position for some people.

Maruti Baleno vs Ford Figo ReviewFord Figo vs Maruti Baleno

The Baleno has a more premium feel and has more space on offer along with more equipment

The Figo has better build quality but the Baleno has more premium appeal

Legroom in the Figo is good but the Baleno has awesome space. It gets excellent leg, head and shoulder room thus making it easy for even three people to sit comfortably at the rear. The Figo is lacking slightly when it comes to headroom and if you are tall, don’t be surprised if your head touches the roof while seated at the back. The Figo has a boot space of 257-litres while the Maruti can take in 339-litres of cargo. Talking about features, well the Maruti Baleno comes with a smart infotainment system that has compatibility for Apple CarPlay and will soon get Android Auto too. The Figo on the other hand gets a SYNC audio system with Bluetooth connectivity along with USB and AUX-IN support. The Baleno also gets projector lights and DRLs along with auto headlight on and follow-me-home functionality while the Figo makes do with regular halogen headlamps. The Figo doesn’t get engine push button start/stop and keyless go which the Baleno offers.

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The Baleno comes with Apple CarPlay and will get Android Auto soon

The instrument cluster on the Baleno is very informative and gives out readings like outside temperature, instant and average fuel efficiency and also some not-so-useful functions like power and torque meters. Meanwhile the Figo gets the very useful MyKey feature, it also gets ambient lighting. Shockingly, the Figo misses out on rear parking sensors while the Baleno gets a proper reverse camera which is very useful, it also gets UV cut glass which is a fantastic feature in this time of sun film ban. Both the cars get fabric seats and none of them are offered with company-fitted leatherette upholstery. The Baleno gets an armrest at the front which is again a useful feature and not found on the Figo. None of the cars come with rear AC vents but both their ACs work brilliantly, with the Figo’s air conditioning unit being the better performer.

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The Figo’s petrol engine is a dismal performer compared to the Baleno

Performance – Talking about the petrol engines first, both the Baleno and the Figo get a 1.2-litre engine with power and torque figures very similar to each other. The Figo generates 88 PS of power while the Baleno stands at 85 PS. Torque on the Baleno is just marginally higher than the Figo on paper. However, on the road, it is the Baleno which feels more sprightly to drive thanks to the K-Series engine that loves to be revved. Its low-end performance isn’t that good and the mid-range feels very flat but performance at the top of the RPM range is just awesome. The Figo on the other hand has a good low-end but the engine feels depressing as the revs climb. Both the engines feel quite refined though but it is the K-Series unit which wins our vote. The Figo petrol hits the ton from standstill in 13.5 seconds while the Baleno is much quicker at 12.36 seconds.

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However, Ford excels when we talk about the automatic gearbox

The Baleno’s petrol engine is fun, Ford trumps Maruti with its diesel engine

The Baleno and the Figo get a 5-speed manual transmission and gearshifts on the Maruti are slick while those on the Figo may feel a bit notchy in comparison. Both the cars have a fairly light clutch but the pedal travel on the Baleno is a bit longer. The Baleno also gets a CVT transmission option with the petrol engine and this gearbox lends a lot of convenience but the rubber band effect is also very much evident. The motor keeps revving while not making much progress thus making it a suitable choice for city driving mostly. The Figo gets a 6-speed DCT gearbox that comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine (112 PS, 136 Nm) and this gearbox is quick in its operations and the engine also packs in good performance but it does tend to be very loud at high RPMs. With the automatic gearbox, the Maruti accelerates to 100 km/hr in 12.79 seconds while the Figo takes just 10.88 seconds.

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Ford also has an upper hand with its powerful TDCI diesel engine

Coming to diesels, the Maruti Baleno gets a 1.3-litre MultiJet engine which is the same one as the Swift. It packs in 75 PS of power and 190 nm of torque compared to the 1.5-litre TDCi mill on the Figo that spews out 100 PS of power and 215 Nm of torque. The Figo is super quick in acceleration and is also the quickest diesel car to be manufactured in India while the Baleno provides satisfactory performance. The fact that it is lighter than the Swift by 100 kgs helps matters and it also feels very responsive to throttle inputs. The bottom end on the Baleno is weak though and you need to downshift every time you want to gather some speed while the Figo feels peppy enough in cities and highways alike. Both the vehicles get a 5-speed manual transmission again and it is very clear that the Ford would be our pick when it comes to diesel engines. The TDCI mill takes the Figo from 0-100 km/hr in just 9.72 seconds while the Baleno is slower at 12.93 seconds.

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Both cars have good driving dynamics and both are involving to drive

Driving Dynamics – Ford cars have always had excellent driving dynamics and the Figo is no different. Sure, it isn’t as fun to drive as the previous model but still it offers very good handling characteristics. The Figo has brilliant handling and the steering weighs up nicely at speed. The steering on the Baleno feels a bit less responsive though but again it weighs up decently at high speeds and also offers very good feedback. Body control is good on the Baleno while it is much better in the Figo.

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Ride is excellent on both but the Baleno’s braking is weak

Driving feel and involvement is very good on both of these India made hatchbacks

It seems that the Ford Figo loves tackling potholes considering how beautiful its ride quality is and same is the case with the Maruti Baleno too which boasts of a splendid ride. In fact Maruti has has got the ride and handling combination of the Baleno bang on. The Baleno however has poor braking performance though and here the Figo shines very brightly. The top variants of the Baleno come with 16-inch wheels while the lower variants gets smaller 15-inch tyres with a higher profile. The Figo gets much smaller 14-inch wheels.

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Both the cars get almost equal levels of safety but Ford offers 6 airbags

Safety and After Sales Service – The Ford Figo comes with class leading 6 airbags on the top most variant while the lower variants get front airbags. Maruti has also decided not to skip safety and hence the Baleno comes with dual front airbags and ABS with EBD on every trim. The Figo automatic gets additional features like traction control, stability control and hill-hold assist. Maruti definitely has an upper hand when it comes to service but Ford is also improving so servicing shouldn’t be an issue with either of these cars.

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The Ford Figo is awesome but the Maruti Baleno offers a bit more

Verdict – The Maruti Baleno is offered in four trims – Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha while the Ford Figo gets six trims – Base, Ambiente, Trend, Trend+, Titanium and Titanium+. The base variants of the Figo are considerably cheaper than that of the Baleno in both petrol and diesel trims but it is the mid variants that are priced on-par with each other. The Figo Titanium which is the second variant from top is priced close to the Baleno Delta. Now when we compare the equipment list on both the cars, we see that the equipment list on these respective trims is very similar to each other. So while you might get a higher trim of the Figo for a said price, a lower trim of the Baleno at the same price would offer similar features.

A similar trend is seen in higher variants too. When we compare the Figo’s Titanium+ to the Baleno’s Zeta variant, we see that both are priced in close proximity to each other and thus buyers become very confused. The Baleno is a proper premium hatchback that offers more space than the Figo, Maruti’s stellar after-sales service and a nice premium appeal while the Figo also fares well but doesn’t feel premium enough. After driving both cars back-to-back and comparing their trims, features and prices, we really think that the Baleno is a cut above the Figo.

So if you’re planning to buy the Figo, it would make a lot of sense to go checkout the Baleno because a lower trim of the latter would offer similar equipment as a higher trim of the former. So, the conclusion is that the Baleno is clearly the more preferable car out of these two since it is a better overall package compared to the Figo, which is also an excellent car. If you’re on a really tight budget and looking to buy a lower variant of the Figo itself, then it makes sense to do so because Ford is offering dual front airbags on every variant of the Figo, just like the Baleno and the Ford diesel mill can put a huge smile on your face.

Maruti’s biggest USP is the massive after-sales network and they have also got an excellent winner on their hands with the Baleno. However, Ford also has a fantastic product to offer and the Figo in no way disappoints as its diesel engine is much better and so is the safety. But among the two, the Baleno offers more bang for the buck for most buyers.

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The Baleno’s sales are steadily climbing up, overtaking the i20

Testers’ Note:

“Not easy to choose between both these cars but there is no denying the Maruti Baleno is in a higher segment with bigger dimensions, more space and a lot more equipment. But the engines make it easy to decide on a winner for me, if I was to buy a diesel car, the sub 10 second time to 100 km/hr Figo is an easy choice to make while Maruti’s superior K-Series mill makes me opt for the Baleno when petrol models are considered. For most buyers though who don’t care as much about driving, the Baleno makes more sense.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“I drove both the cars back-to-back for a couple of days and while I found the Figo better to drive, at least the diesel engine, I wasn’t disappointed with the Baleno at all. In fact the Baleno is an excellent product by Maruti and offers so much more than the Figo. Sure, Maruti could have really worked on the build quality which is leagues ahead in the Figo, the Baleno impresses when it comes to space, equipment and petrol engine performance. If I was in the market for a hatchback, I would buy the Baleno Zeta eyes closed.” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“The two hatchbacks here belong to two different segments but are very closely matched. While the Figo offers stellar engines and safety, the Baleno gets upmarket features like Apple CarPlay and UV-cut glass. However, choosing one out of the two is fairly easy for me. If it has to be a diesel or petrol automatic, my choice would be the Figo as it offers performance which can beat more expensive cars and it is excellent value for money. If it is to be a manual transmission petrol, it has to be the Baleno for the VVT engine + slick gearbox combination.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
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The Figo is a unique product amongst the sea of Marutis on our roads

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta

Further Reading –

Maruti Baleno Review
Maruti Baleno Video Review
Ford Figo Review
Ford Figo vs Honda Jazz vs Volkswagen Polo
Ford Figo vs Maruti Swift vs Hyundai Grand i10 vs Tata Bolt
Ford Figo vs Maruti Swift vs Hyundai Grand i10 vs Tata Bolt – Video