Maruti Baleno is the best-selling premium hatchback in the country, currently. However, Honda is also developing one on the 7th-gen Honda City. How will the Baleno fare against it, if Honda plans to launch it here in the country? Read Here.
With age comes elegance. Similarly, hatchbacks have turned hot and matured with time. At whatever pace the compact-SUV space is growing big, hatchbacks continue to be the volume generators for the carmakers. While the entry-level hatchback space is what manufacturers are slowly moving away from, premium hatchbacks have come up as the new chartbusters. Recently, Tata has launched the Altroz to grab a bite of this enormous pie, and soon Hyundai will be bringing in the new-gen Elite i20. Though it is the Maruti Baleno which is topping the sales chart since inception.
Soon, Honda would be re-entering the premium hatchback space internationally with the 5-door variant of the seventh-gen Honda City. It's important to mention here that the Honda City started life as a hatchback. It was only the third generation model that received the sedan treatment, with this being the same model that came to India in the late 90s. Now, however, the carmaker has recently introduced the sevent-gen Honda City and the new sedan will soon launch in India. Meanwhile, select Asian markets will even get the hatchback version, whose patent images were leaked recently. Based on the patent leaks of the car, we came up with digital renderings. While the City hatchback will not launch in India, we still decided to check what it feels like to compare the upcoming model with the most popular premium small car in the country - the Maruti Baleno.
In India, small cars have to be shorter than 4 meters in length. Thus, it can be said while a compact-sedan might often look like a compromise, a 4m long hatchback looks elegant. The Baleno with its hunkered-down stance, low roofline, hunched-up shoulders, and a curvy beltline looks gorgeous. The City hatchback doesn’t feature all those curves, but the straight lines with a long bonnet and raked windscreen give it all the maturity it requires. It can be said that City hatchback features a timeless design as compared to the Baleno.
On the front, the City hatchback has the same face as the sedan. It gets a thick chrome-ribbon flanked by sleek headlamps on either side. With a steeply-raked A-pillar and C-pillar, it gets a low stance as well. The Baleno does with the familiar Maruti face with a chunky grille and up-swept headlamps. However, it is the Baleno’s face that reeks of aggression.
Moving on to the sides, the cars are hardly comparable. The Baleno is a smaller car than the City hatchback. And, on the rear, the Baleno features a simpler bumper with round-ish taillamps and a clean design for the tailgate. However, the City draws inspiration from a Beemer, it seems. The taillamps are infused with a sharply-designed LED element. The bumper gets sharp creases at the bottom. Also, the reflectors are mounted vertically in two indentations on either side, while on the Baleno they are housed rather cohesively. The number plate housings are at different places as well.
The difference between the two grows to a whole new level on the inside. The Baleno features a plain design for the dashboard with an all-black colour scheme. The City hatchback will feature the same dashboard layout as its sedan counterpart and it does look better than that on the Baleno. Also, the City hatchback would offer more space to the occupants than the Baleno, thanks to its longer wheelbase. The SmartPlay infotainment unit on the Baleno gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, while a bigger 8.0-inch unit like the City sedan will do duty on the City hatchback. Overall, it is the City hatchback, that will offer more space and features on the inside than the Baleno.
Talking of the powertrains, Baleno is offered with 2 petrol engine options – 1.2L K12N DualJet and 1.2L K12M. The former whips out a peak power output of 90 PS, while the latter churns out 83 PS as its max. output. The peak torque for both of these engines remains identical at 113 Nm. The gearbox options available on the Baleno are 5-speed MT and CVT automatic. However, the K12N DualJet motor misses out on the option of an automatic gearbox. The City hatchback, on the other hand, is expected to use the same 1.0L 3-pot turbo-petrol motor as the Thai-spec City saloon. On the sedan, this motor produces a max. output of 122 PS/173 Nm, and is offered with a CVT automatic. Also, the City hatchback would be introduced with Jazz’s e-HEV powertrain. It comprises of an electric motor and a 1.5L N/A petrol engine to develop a combined output of 109 PS/253 Nm.
It is highly unlikely that Honda would launch the City hatchback with its outgrown proportions in India. Therefore, talking about its expected price tag is not a valid move. However, Maruti Baleno starts at a rather competitive price tag of Rs. 5.63 Lakh and goes all the way up to Rs. 8.96 Lakh.