The journey from zero to turning into a millionaire – or 10,00,000 units – in the Indian market has taken the Maruti Suzuki Baleno 72 months or just six years. It had zipped past the 900,000 mark this April and the last 250,000 units (253,358 units from May 2020 to October 2021) have been recorded in just 18 months – and in only petrol guise.
The stylish premium hatchback, sold exclusively from the carmaker’s Nexa showrooms, was launched in October 2015. Till end-October 2021, it has clocked cumulative sales of 10,02,082 units, comprising 898,216 petrol variants and 103,866 diesel. Having exited the diesel engine market in March 2020, the Baleno, like all Marutis, now thrives only on petrol power. With this kind of pacy sales, the Baleno, not surprisingly, is a regular in the Top 10 Passenger Vehicle sales chart.
En route to the million-units milestone, the snazzy Baleno has consistently set new benchmarks: it was the fastest among premium hatchbacks in India to reach the 600,000 unit milestone – in 44 months. While it zipped past the 700,000 mark in 51 months, the 800,000 sales landmark was surpassed 10 months later, the 900,000 mark in 66 months and now the million mark in just 72 months.
Ace of space in a premium package
The Baleno is Maruti Suzuki’s largest hatchback and available with a choice of petrol and mild-hybrid petrol engines. A five-speed manual gearbox comes as standard fitment, though a petrol-CVT automatic gearbox combo is an option too. In addition to an exterior and equipment upgrade in January 2019, the Maruti Baleno was also among the first movers in the company’s line-up to switch its 1.2-litre petrol powertrain to meet BS VI standards much earlier before the April 2020 deadline.
This spacious and feature-rich premium hatchback which competes with the Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Tata Altroz and more recently the likes of the Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger, remains a popular buy.
When the Baleno was introduced a little over five years ago, it captivated hatchback buyers with its snazzy looks and technologically-advanced features such as new 17.78cm SmartPlay infotainment system, TFT multi-information display and the option of a CVT. Furthermore, enhanced comfort levels, good fuel economy and driving pleasure helped clinch the deal with many customers.
A match-winner for Maruti
The Baleno is a match-winner for Maruti Suzuki, racing ahead of the premium hatchback competition. It is also the best-selling Nexa model. Of the 1.4 million Nexa-retailed premium cars over 6 years (till July 2021), the Baleno commands a 65% share.
Of the six fiscal years that it has been sold in the domestic market, the Baleno has registered year-on-year growth in all except FY2020 and FY2021. FY2020 with its prolonged depressed market conditions impacted sales, keeping them down to 180,413 units, down 15 percent YoY. And in the Covid-impacted FY2021, it sold 163,445 units, down 9 percent YoY. But what is admirable about the performance is that these numbers have been achieved in a very difficult market environment, and that too without a diesel option.
As per Autocar Professional’s India sales and data analytics, the Baleno, priced from Rs 627,000 onwards (on-road Delhi), has averaged monthly sales of 13,917 units since launch and 12,844 units in the ongoing fiscal year. What’s not to like? It may be recollected that on April 5, we had forecast the Baleno zipping past the million-units mark in August 2021 – we were short by two months. The Baleno turned a millionnaire this October.
New Baleno launch in early 2022
The Baleno story is set to continue in a new avatar soon. There’s a new Baleno coming up with fully overhauled interior and exterior, the first big changes to the model following its last update in 2019. According to Autocar India, spy shots have revealed a restyled front and rear end, and a hugely improved interior with top-notch features.
However, other than the cosmetic updates, the 2022 Baleno will continue to be powered by the existing 1.2-litre petrol engine in two states of tune – the non-hybrid 83hp version and the 90hp version with 12V mild-hybrid technology, offered with a 5-speed manual and CVT automatic gearboxes. It is slated to be launched between February and March 2022 and will continue its premium hatchback battle with the Hyundai i20, Tata Altroz, Honda Jazz and the Volkswagen Polo.
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