Santa visits the Maruti showrooms multiple times every year and every time he does, his bag of gifts allows thousands of families to become mobile, perhaps for the first time. But the Nexa showrooms cater to the consumers who want to play Santa for themselves. A bit more aspirational and to that effect, the Fronx (barring the name) could be one of the most aspirational and attainable crossovers that will make it to the Nexa showroom floors in a long time.
Maruti Suzuki Fronx 1.0L review
The Fronx is more than a bulked-up Baleno
Although based on the Baleno, its increased ground clearance, aggressive styling with new bodywork, premium-looking DRLs (front and rear) and a new 1.0L Turbo Boosterjet engine should give it the requisite differentiation. And aspirational value. The front profile wears a chunky look with a two-part grille, split by a chrome garnish and flanked by smart-looking DRLs. The headlights get their own housing and are LEDs too, in a cluster of three per side. Even the alloys are an all-new design with a geometric pattern that is highlighted by their laser-cut precision. A lightbar that connects the LED tail lamps is perhaps the most striking feature of the Fronx and makes it instantly recognizable, and different from the Baleno.
Maruti-Suzuki has even customised the interiors for the Fronx so it does the best it can to feel like an all-new car. A more layered dashboard design with different textures and finishes, soft touch cladding on the door pads and a flat-bottomed steering wheel make it a pleasant cabin to be in. As Maruti does always, the contoured and perfectly cushioned seats make it super comfy too.
Maintaining a similar tech suite as the other cars in the stable, the Smartplay Pro+ infotainment system makes a comeback in the 9in avatar. Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto along with wireless charging tick off the must-have features for the techie. USB-A and C ports front and back round up the connectivity. The sound is Arkamys tuned and the 6-speaker system won’t set new benchmarks in the segment, but is good enough to be an accompaniment on long journeys without an external upgrade.
What you don’t see in other brands at this price point is the inclusion of a HUD, or Head-Up Display. Although not the more sophisticated version that projects on the windshield itself, the Fronx gets a pop-up screen behind the instrument cluster that falls in your line of sight with the road ahead and projects information like speed, revs, gear, time and even navigation if you’re using the native system. It may serve some, but for me, it just proved to be a bigger distraction given our traffic and road conditions. So off it was.
Although available in two engine guises, my ride for the test drive was the 3-cylinder, 1.0L turbo Boosterjet engine that delivers 100hp/147Nm. Numbers that are glaringly lower than the Korean competition, but Maruti claims their aim was to make the engine lighter, more responsive and fuel efficient. Out on the road, the acceleration is brisk, if not rapid and it gets to triple-digit speeds without any fuss. The Smart-Hybrid part of the engine tech allows the Lithium-Ion battery to aid with the mild-hybrid boost from a standstill, but it’s not very tangible. The engine also gets vocal as you edge it towards it redline, but the paddle shifters on the 6-speed automatic variant do make it fun to chuck around and keep the engine in the meatiest part of the powerband.
Where the Fronx impresses the most is its ride quality which is supple yet confident, so regardless of open highways or broken tarmac, it doesn’t give you a reason to complain. At the autocross track made to showcase the Fronx’s dynamic abilities, it did well for a front-wheel drive car to kick up some dirt. Six airbags, Hill hold assist and the 360-degree surround view camera assist in putting up a strong safety front as well, should things get hairy in the muddy playpen.
The ubiquitous Baleno might be the foundation for the Fronx, but its road presence goes way beyond the demure hatchback proportions of the Baleno. Instead, the Fronx is in your face, with generous lashings of chrome and LEDs, strong haunches and a powerful stance. It is smooth, easy to drive and like all things wearing the S-badge, undoubtedly it will also be blessed with bullet-proof reliability.
A departure in design from mundane Marutis, the Fronx is stylish and bold with a reliable pedigree. Not the most exciting to drive though.
|Transmission:||6-speed auto w/paddles|