Japanese car maker Toyota tied up with Maruti Suzuki in 2017 and as part of the collaboration, the companies will be exchanging technologies and vehicles to be badge engineered. Now, we know that the Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Vitara Brezza and the Toyota Corolla will be the initial models to be shared between the companies but a timeline for launch is yet to be confirmed. Now, a PTI report suggests that Toyota India will be bringing its version of the Baleno hatchback to the market in the second half of 2019-2020 financial year. The Toyota badged Baleno will not only carry a new name but new features as well that will make it unique when compared to the Suzuki badged model.
In March 2018, Toyota and Suzuki had signed an agreement for supplying several vehicles, including hybrids, to each other for the Indian market. Under the pact, Toyota had agreed upon furnishing its sedan Corolla to Suzuki, while Suzuki had given a nod for providing its premium hatchback Baleno and compact SUV Vitara Brezza to Toyota. In November 2017, both the Japanese firms had come out with an announcement regarding introduction of electric vehicles in India by 2020.
Maruti Suzuki launched the face lift version of Baleno between a price range of Rs 5.45 lakh and Rs 8.77 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It has got a new front fascia with wider stance. The grille has been refurbished with dynamic 3D detailing adding to the overall boldness of the premium hatchback. The company has given the new version precision cut smoked two tone 16-inch alloy wheels. Other changes include a new seat fabric, black and navy blue dual-tone interiors and a 17.78 cm Smart play Studio connected infotainment system.
However, no changes have been made to the engine of the facelift version. It has the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3- litre diesel engines, which came with the previous variant. While the petrol engine produces 83 bhp and 115 Nm, the diesel one churns out 74 bhp and 190 Nm. Both the engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with an option for an automatic transmission in petrol variant only.
It is expected that Toyota’s version of Baleno will have a few cosmetic changes on the outside, mainly the front portion of the car different bumper design and some minor changes in the interior styling as well. Any major tweak might lead to price escalation and the firm will definitely want to avoid it.
The rebranded Baleno will get more than just a Toyota badge. The rebranded Baleno will be sold through Toyota’s dealership network only.
Sold through Maruti’s Nexa chain of dealerships, the new Baleno facelift is priced between Rs 5.46 lakh and Rs 8.77 lakh. It competes with the likes of the Hyundai Elite i20, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo. Toyota’s current hatchback, the Etios Liva, is priced from Rs 5.35 lakh to Rs 7.57 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). We expect Toyota’s version of the Baleno to have a higher starting price and perhaps more safety features on offer.