Maruti Baleno has set its eyes squarely on Elite i20 which is enjoying a dream run in Indian automobile market. Maruti has been missing from premium hatchback category for a while now, and though its Swift still leads the pack, Hyundai has got its foot firm in higher up the price point with Elite i20. Maruti knew that targeting Elite i20 with Swift is not a feasible option, and hence it brings in its global premium hatchback named Baleno in the market. We assumed that for Indian market, Maruti call it something else though it sticks with global nomenclature of Suzuki which has christened it as Baleno. Hyundai has already carved its place and to displace Korean manufacturer, Maruti knew it had to offer something extra in each and every department. There is no space for any error as even a slight mistake could push Baleno to the oblivion. Sold through NEXA in Indian market, Baleno has a lot going for it. Be it feature list, equipment, or fuel-efficiency, Baleno has proved a point on every aspect. So this week, we at ECARDLR, decided to pit newly launched Baleno against Elite i20 to know which one of these stand the rival better than other? Read on to find the victor of this road test comparison review.
Turn Out & Interiors
With new Elite i20, Hyundai has once again hit the design nail on the head. Head-turning frontage, crispy profile and equally interesting rear make Elite i20 a delightful all-around watch. Like its elder Verna, Elite i20 is sophisticatedly beautiful and we were having hard time to find nit-pick any design absurdity in this baby Hyundai.Hyundai has evolved in its designing language and unlike the early aggressive in-face designed vehicles; Elite i20 has got mild doses of Fluidic 2.0 philosophy. Large hexagonal chrome outlined grill sits lower in Elite i20 and with tastefully detailed chin, makes a superb impression. Augmenting the frontage design are sweptback wraparound headlamps that come with faux LED curved strips positioned at the top.
To drive home the point of upmarket, Maruti has done comprehensive efforts. As a result, Baleno does look premium thanks to its V-shape grille, projector headlamps with DRLs, and pronounced bumper. In profile, strong character streaks and rising window line hog the attention. Dynamic interplay between window line and raked out rear windscreen further arrest the audience attention.Rear of the car is well designed too. The camaraderie between nicely detailed tail lamps and thick chrome bar helpsthe Baleno to complete its well-rounded design. Baleno looks large though it doesn't stretch beyond the excise limit of 4 meters. Its 1745 wide footprint is something that frees up much space inside for occupants.
On inside of Elite i20 Hyundai has traced the similar path as it treaded on Grand i10 and Xcent. Two-tone dashboard and seats, smart centre console and loads of equipment are now familiar bits in any Hyundai. And we are not complaining as after all this design has struck a chord with consumers. Swooping character of dash board feels quite practical too in addition to being modern and hardwearing grains feel soft-touch in nature. Smartly placed centre console comes with loads of equipment and electrochromic internal rear view mirror is capable of displaying the rear view in reverse gear mode. 2-DIN music system that plays all the formats of music comes with 1 GB internal memory and Bluetooth connectivity. Chunky steering wheel houses the various controls and controls are exceptionally steadfast. Blue backdrop lighting looks very soothing and Hyundai has used this adorable aspect in plenty in Elite i20. Ergonomics and operability is something Elite i20 scores quite exceptionally and full marks to Hyundai for rehearsing things properly and getting it right in final product.
Inside the cabin, Baleno feels like a Maruti as lot of bits have been shared. Steering wheel, power window switches, stalks etc. are similar to other Maruti cars though company has made some clever changes to lift the ambience feel. An all-black cabin feels posh, and though upholstery is not very upmarket, the very friendly driving interface make up for lost ground. Blue lit dials among the sea of black is very pleasing to look at.Large size fonts further enhance the readability and even in the broad daylight, their legibility doesn’t get compromised. 4.2 inch central TFT cluster packs a punch, and has multitude of information at its disposal. Highly placed central 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system has been directly lifted from the Ciaz. Along with playing the music, guiding the path through navigation, the car features Apple car-play which allows seamless connection between your Apple mobile and this system.
Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5/5 Maruti Baleno : 4/5
Power Plant & Dynamics
Elite i20 has got the same power plants i.e. 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel as featured by its previous generation iteration. We test drove the diesel one that makes 90 PS of max power and 220 Nm of max torque. The first thing that immediately struck us was the exceptionally refined nature of this 4-cylinder, 16-valve diesel engine. Though even in i20 we lauded the refinement but here in Elite i20 this smoothness pertains to altogether different level. Inside the cabin, it is almost impossible to tell whether engine is idling. Clutch is light and foot reflexes are quickly transformed into results in terms of quick progress and leaps forward. However the drivability is not something that impressed us especially when compared to many new-age very drivable oil-burners. Gear shifts are mandatory and only past 2000 rpm, the motor wakes up and start delivering to its full capacity. Mid-range is nice and once you cross the rpm barrier this Hyundai swings into action and make brisk advancements. Further the additional 6th gear help this motor in effortless highway cruising and sure to positively affect the mileage figures of i20.
Unlike international Baleno that comes with 1.0-litre turbo - petrol engine, India has got 1.2-litre K12 petrol motor for now. Diesel version is plonked with tried and tested 1.3-litre multi-jet DDiS oil burner badged as DDiS 190. It’s same motor 75 PS that powers other Marutis albeit in a different state of tune. Further,Baleno being light in weight (100 kg lighter than Swift), 75 PS feels lively and spirited under than Swift. Turbo-lag is still discernible under 2000 rpm though the overall power delivery in Baleno is much more linear than before. Part throttle responses are quick and Baleno feels as faster as its rivals. However, floor the pedal at low revs and engine bogs you down. Another disappointment comes in the form of high noise that starts emanating from under the hood at higher revolutions. This requires you to upshift early. Fuel efficiency of 27.39 km/l is class leading, and sparkles as a jewel in overall features of the car.
Elite i20 comes with standard suspension hardware that employs McPherson strut upfront and torsion beam at rear. 16” alloy wheels in to variant Asta come shrouded with 195 mm wide rubber that in fact equip this car with decent gripping ability. Elite i20 has got soft suspension setting that prioritizes ride quality over handling. For most of the part, new i20 feels cushiony, pliant and absorbent. The suspension works silently and its long travel ensures that cabin remain aloof to any intrusions.
Suspension though feels a tad soft; it doesn't compromise on the handling front. Being a lightweight car, we expected Baleno to be skittish over the bad patches but on the contrary it deals with all kinds of roads with aplomb. There is no issue whatsoever in ride comfort as all undulations are dispatched with silent thud. For most of the part, suspension work silently. The straight line stability is exceptional as long wheelbase plays a great role in it. Handling too is taut and sporty thanks to the underpinnings supporting sporty theme of the car. In sum, Baleno raises the benchmark not only for the competition but also within its stable.
Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5/5 Maruti Baleno: 4/5
Maruti has gained some ground on various dimensions of space, styling etc. though it is value for money where it really run Hyundai’s challenge into ground. Its price starts at as low as Rs 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for base petrol variant which is far lower than the Elite i20. Allthough Maruti has launched Baleno as premium luxury car, it has ensured that the hatchback won’t get cold response due to high pricing, the case which happens to be with S-cross. In sum, Baleno offers great value for money which is ace up its sleeve. It looks as modern as Elite i20, offers better space, performs better and returns superior mileage, and comes with very dynamic chassis. Elite i20 though made full effort to stand up to Baleno challenge though this bout ultimately won by Baleno.
Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5/5 Maruti Baleno: 4/5