Maruti Suzuki has launched the all-new Suzuki Baleno in India, which is has a starting price of 635,000 rupees (RM35,371) for the base variant, while the range-topping option retails from 949,000 rupees (RM52,862). In India, the Baleno is marketed as a premium hatchback and is sold through Maruti Suzuki’s Nexa retailer that also deals the XL6, S-Cross, Ciaz and Ignis.

The second-generation Baleno, as with the one before it, is assembled by Suzuki Motor Gujarat – a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor – at the company’s facility located near Ahmedabad in Gujarat. While the carmaker uses the term “New Age Baleno”, suggesting a full model change, the latest model is more of a heavy facelift and shares the same Heartect platform with its predecessor that first debuted in 2015, albeit heavily revised and accompanied by new body panels and other exterior updates.

Despite this, the latest Baleno’s dimensions don’t differ by much, retaining the same wheelbase of 2,520 mm and width of 1,745 mm. The overall vehicle length has been slightly reduced to 3,990 mm (-5 mm), while the height is now 1,500 (-10 mm).

In terms of design, the Baleno sports a redesigned face that projects a more upscale look, with notable cues being a wider NEXWave grille with a stylised insert and a chrome surround, the latter now intrudes into the reprofiled headlamps with three-element LED daytime running lights. The bumper also has fog lamp sections that are now linked to the lower intake, unlike the 2018 facelift, while the clamshell bonnet has been made flatter.

The Baleno’s side profile remains largely familiar, although the chrome strip that runs along the base of the side windows now ends a little bit higher up the rear quarter glass. The shoulder lines have also been sharpened and there are new-design 16-inch alloy wheels. Six colour options are offered, namely Arctic White, Splendid Silver, Grandeur Grey, Nexa Blue, Opulent Red and Luxe Beige.

More substantial changes are seen at the rear, as there are now C-shaped taillights that extend into the rear tailgate, joined by a trim piece that integrates a reverse camera, as well as reflectors brought higher up due to the new bumper.

The overhaul continues on the side, where there is an entirely new dashboard that looks more modern than before. The three-layered design appears to be inspired by the latest S-Cross, with a touchscreen infotainment system – measuring either seven or nine inches – sitting prominently in the middle, requiring the air vents to be made smaller and placed underneath.

A new digital screen for the air-conditioning system also makes its way into the Baleno, positioned on a proper centre stack that links up to the centre console. The design of the instrument cluster and steering wheel are also lifted from the S-Cross.

The Baleno comes in four variants – Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha – that are all available with a five-speed manual transmission, although the last three options can also be had with a five-speed AMT (automated manual transmission).

Regardless of gearbox, the only engine offered is a K12N Dualjet 1.2 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit making 90 PS (89 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 113 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. The carmaker quotes 22.35 km/l for the manual and 22.94 for the AMT.

The base Sigma variant is rather barebones and comes with 15-inch steel wheels, halogen projector headlamps, LED tail lamps, power windows, central locking and keyless entry, automatic air-conditioning, a basic multi-info display, reverse parking sensors, ABS with EBD, two airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

The Delta is the next step up and adds wheel covers for the steelies, a chrome finish for the grille, body-coloured door handles and powered side mirrors (with turn indicators), a seven-inch SmartPlay Studio infotainment system, steering-mounted audio controls, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, four speakers, a security alarm and ESP with hill hold assist (AMT only).

The Zeta is where the kit list becomes more comprehensive, building upon the Delta by gaining automatic LED headlamps, 16-inch alloys, chrome exterior garnishes and door handles, rear AC vents and charging ports, keyless engine start, a coloured MID, a rear wiper, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, rear seat adjustable headrests, a front armrest, a 60:40 split-folding rear seat bench, side and curtain airbags and rearview camera.

Also added are two two tweeters and a SmartPlay Pro infotainment system with Suzuki Connect telematics and an onboard voice assistant. There are also a few connected services that come with the fancier system, including smartwatch and Alexa Skill connectivity support.

Finally, the Alpha, being the range-topper, gets everything the Zeta has, plus additional items like UV cut glass, precision-cut alloys, LED DRLs and fog lamps, a head-up display, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a larger 9-inch SmartPlay Pro+ infotainment system with an Arkamys sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 360-degree camera and the ESP can be had with both manual and AMT versions.

The Baleno will continue to compete against other premium hatchbacks in India, including the Hyundai i20, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo, Tata Altroz and the upcoming Toyota Glanza that is due to receive an update (the current one is a rebadged Baleno).