Why would I buy it?
- Peppy Engine
- Brilliant Ride Quality
- Good Presence
Why would I avoid it?
- Not the most spacious
- Seats need to be firmer
Engine and Performance
Powering the Fronx are two engines. You get the familiar 1.2-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine which can be had with either a five-speed manual or a five-speed AMT gearbox. What you see here is the one-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine that we have seen in the older gen Baleno RS, although this time around, it is locally made. The Boosterjet engine will get either a five-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter automatic.
We have always believed that the Boosterjet engine is one of the best from Maruti Suzuki’s stables and it should be available in more Maruti Suzuki models. On start-up, the engine feels refined and it’s hard to tell that there is a three-cylinder engine under the hood. Acceleration is crisp and one will be surprised how quickly the engine revs and hits the limiter. But what is most impressive is the mid-range. All that 147.6Nm of torque is available from 2000rpm and that gives the Fronx excellent in-gear acceleration.
Overtaking long trucks or slow-moving traffic is no effort at all be it in the city or on the highway as the Fronx gets up to three-digit speeds very quickly. And it’s not just quick but fuel efficient as well. Maruti claims a fuel efficiency of 20kmpl which sounds great but is something we will verify soon. Overall we’re just glad that Maruti decided to not only bring back the Boosterjet engine but localize it as well which only means more fun Maruti cars in the future.
Ride and Handling
Talking about the ride and handling, Maruti Suzuki has outdone itself. The Fronx being a crossover gets about 20mm more ground clearance than the Baleno and stands 190mm tall. Maruti Suzuki has achieved this with the new 16-inch wheels and altered spring rates. Ride quality in the Fronx is so good that it puts some proper SUVs to shame. The suspension feels tightly sprung on good roads, but the moment you go through a bad patch, it absorbs the bumps extremely well. What is even more impressive is how quite the suspension is even while tackling some really bumpy sections. The ride quality aside, even the handling is pretty good.
The steering has some weight to it and the Fronx feels pretty nimble on its feet. It’s chuckable in the tight sections and feels nice and stable on the long sweeping corners which makes it ideal for long-distance travel too. Overall Maruti Suzuki has struck an excellent balance of ride and handling with the Fronx and we love it.
Of course, the Fronx is not an all-out SUV and is actually a crossover. But Maruti has left no stone unturned to give it a proper SUV treatment. The front-end treatment is similar to the much bigger Grand Vitara so you get the glossy nexwave grille which is flanked by LED DRLs on both sides instead of the headlights. You also get a thick chrome band that runs across the grille and connects the DRLs. The bottom of the front bumper gets the mandatory bash plate too. On the sides, the silhouette is more coupe-ish than boxy. You also get plastic cladding that runs across the length of the car. The 16-inch alloy wheels get a pretty neat design as well.
At the rear, the taillights are connected via the LED strip. The bash plate is present at the rear too and a design inspiration that we see that has been picked up from the Grand Vitara are these notches with the integrated reflectors. Overall we love how the Fronx looks completely different from the Baleno and Maruti Suzuki has done a good job of giving the car its own identity.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
Getting inside the cabin is a familiar affair. The dash and layout is pretty similar to what you see in the Baleno, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The dashboard is pretty well designed and the quality of the plastic and switches is pretty good too. Coming to the seats, you don’t really get a high-perched view like in SUV’s but even then visibility is fantastic. The seat though is a tad too soft for our liking. The cushioning could have been a little firmer and would help during long drives. The rear bench gets ample knee room and the headroom is just about adequate despite the sloping roofline. But what you can’t help notice is how gloomy the cabin feels and this is because of the use of dark materials. Even the windows aren’t really large which makes the cabin appear even more compact than it actually is.
The Fronx comes across as pretty loaded when it comes to features. First up is the nine-inch infotainment system which is the same as what you see in the Baleno and that is not a bad thing at all. It’s got crisp graphics, is smooth to operate and easy to connect via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. Aiding it further is the Arkamy audio system. Apart from that you get a wireless phone charger, head-up display, 360-view camera, and more. However, what we think is a big miss like in the Baleno is the absence of a sunroof and ventilated seats. On the safety front, you get six airbags, hill hold assist and ABS along with ESP.
The big elephant in the room, of course, is that Maruti has not announced any crash test ratings for the Fronx. Competition like the Tata Nexon and the Mahindra XUV 300 have already been tested and performed well. Maruti Suzuki has worked hard on the Heartect platform using high and ultra-high tensile steel for a stronger body structure, however, a comparative score would validate the HEARTECT platform’s focus towards safety and reassure buyers even more.
The Fronx looks fantastic and that it looks like a smaller grand Vitara from the front only helps its case further. What we also applaud Maruti Suzuki for is for getting the Booster jet engine back with the Fronx and also offering an automatic gearbox with it. Even on the features front, the Fronx comes loaded with almost everything you need barring a sunroof and ventilated seats. The only place we found the Fronx lacking was the feeling of outright space in the cabin. Overall we think Maruti has done a good job with the Fronx giving the car its own identity. We expect pricing for the Fronx to be between 10 to 14 lakh depending on the variant.
Pictures by Kapil Angane