What are they?
In order to meet rising demand, Indian automaker Maruti Suzuki is converting its Nexa lineup to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). As CNG was once considered the fuel of choice for the yellow plate family, this marks a major milestone in Maruti’s engine development. Now that it has entered the luxury segment of the market, we can see where Maruti intends to take it in the future. Both the Nexa Baleno and Nexa XL6, which underwent significant redesigns at the beginning of the year, are the first models to receive CNG.
The Zeta trim level of the XL6, the most basic version of the six-seat MPV, is available with compressed natural gas (CNG) power. Some of the features included in the base model are LED headlights, chrome door handles, automatic climate control, roof-mounted AC vents for the second row, push-button ignition, cruise control, four airbags, and Suzuki Connect. The wheels are 16 inches in diameter and are made of a two-tone alloy.
A non-split luggage board in the trunk, a fuel changeover switch with illumination, and a specialised CNG fuel gauge showing total time in CNG mode are all part of the CNG-specific upgrades. Last but not least, despite being slightly longer than the Ertiga, we still don’t know how much room the CNG takes up in the trunk. This is something we’ll be able to report on once we’ve driven the car. The Ertiga has a boot space of 209 litres when all three rows are folded down, but at least 100–130 litres of that space is taken up by the compressed natural gas (CNG) tank.
Both the Delta and Zeta trims of the Baleno offer CNG power. Alloy wheels, chrome door handles, chrome door garnish, a rear wiper, telescoping steering, an on-board voice assistant, over-the-air updates via mobile phone, two tweeters, a colour MID, side airbags, a rear-view camera, and Suzuki Connect are standard, as are the other features.
The CNG models differ from the standard Delta in that they feature a CNG gauge, an altered instrument cluster, and 60:40 split folding rear seats. Maruti has surprised everyone by introducing a high-end model powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), given the risk it took to bring CNG to the Nexa range in the first place. That, however, appears to be dependent on increased demand and perhaps an update.
What’s under the hood?
The 1.5-liter K-Series engine in the Maruti CNG-petrol XL6 generates 86.3 bhp/121.5 Nm when running on compressed natural gas and 100 bhp/136 Nm when running on gasoline.
Only Maruti’s five-speed manual transmission is available. The CNG tank holds 60 litres and provides 26.32 kilometres per kilogramme. Comparatively, gasoline scores 20.97 in MT form and 20.27 in AT form.
Baleno’s 1.2-liter petrol engine generates 76bhp/98.5Nm in CNG trim and 88bhp/113Nm in petrol trim. Maruti’s five-speed manual is the sole transmission option. The fuel efficiency for CNG is 30.61 km/kg, and the tank capacity is 55 litres. Fuel economy is 22.35kmpl for the manual transmission and 22.94kmpl for the automatic.
CNG is the new diesel?
The current iteration of the Indian auto industry has an unofficial saying that goes something like, “When Maruti brings in some new form of innovation, everyone else follows suit in some way.” It could be because of Maruti’s huge market share, or it could just be that everyone is being cautious and waiting for the ‘Big Kahuna’ to make the first move.
CNG-powered vehicle adoption is indicative of this trend. There is a clear argument to be made for the kinds of cars that Maruti Suzuki manufactures because they are more economical and produce fewer emissions than a petrol-powered model (at least at the time of writing this first look). Maruti’s goal is to expand into more lucrative premium markets, and this seems like a sensible way to do so by providing customers with an alternative to the plethora of diesel cars that dominate this sector of the industry. Eventually, petrol-CNG, hybrids, and BEVs will replace diesel vehicles, giving Maruti a significant competitive advantage.