The premium hatchback segment in India is now witnessing some action again, now that we have the new-gen Hyundai i20 and the Tata Altroz. Another popular o9ffering in this segment is the Baleno. It might be popular but comparatively, it has started feeling a little dated. A test mule of the Baleno has been spied again with strain gauge apparatus on all 4 wheels indicating that this Baleno might be powered by a Hybrid powertrain. You see, the future of mobility is green, it is electric.
A few months ago Maruti Suzuki had teased us an image of a Baleno which was said to come with some major updates as the image captioned, “A big surprise is coming soon!”.
The only problem with switching completely electric now is the lack of charging infrastructure and the disposal of the components later. Until all that is set up, it’s difficult to go all-electric. Hence, a hybrid powertrain seems to combine the best of both worlds, right now. Although, a hybrid powertrain is something we see on high-end cars, Maruti being Maruti can pull off a mega trick especially with them dropping a bomb on social media a few days back about a product being based on Baleno but this is just connecting the dots, nothing is official.
The hybrid powertrain in the Baleno could feature a pair of electric motors. Along with the engine in the front driving the front wheels, there could be 2 electric motors, one for each rear wheel so as to offer a hybrid solution and drive the rear wheels in case of going full-electric for around 20-30 Km on the motors alone. The motors could be charged while braking, that is regenerative braking and while idling. Currently, the Baleno is powered by a 1.2L, 4 cylinder, naturally aspirated, front-wheel drive front engine that puts out 82PS and 113Nm of peak power and torque outputs respectively, which is mated to a 5-speed or a CVT unit. The mild-hybrid version will be coupled with an electric motor as mentioned.
Or a BS6 Diesel Baleno?
The test mule seen here has a DDiS badging attached to its side fender. As per Vahan website, this vehicle is registered in the name of Maruti Suzuki India Limited and is powered by a BS4 diesel engine. Transitioning into the BS6 era post-April 2020, Maruti Suzuki decided to upgrade only the petrol line of its models in the portfolio, essentially not offering a diesel option at all. Many doubted that move back then but Maruti Suzuki had stated the cost of upgrading a diesel engine, which by the way is higher than upgrading petrol, to the be the reason to not continue diesel into the era of stricter emission norms.
But, they did, however, mention back then that a surging demand for diesel could make them ponder to overturn their decision, and that’s what has happened. Their aggressive CNG strategy and the Calculate Kiya kya initiative were all efforts to push their petrol and CNG models. But, in a country like India, diesel has played a huge role in personal mobility and although the future looks green and electric, diesels are irreplaceable, at least in the foreseeable near future. All that has combined Maruti Suzuki to overturn their decision and bring back the 1.5L DDiS back. Another part of the reason might also include the success of other OEMs on their diesel cars. Impressive sales figures for brands like Tata, Mahindra, Kia, Hyundai all suggest diesel power hasn’t lost its charm, and Maruti indeed took note of it.
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