The Suzuki Esteem is an export nameplate for the Suzuki Cultus Crescent — an aa marketed in Europe, Australia and many Asian countries as the Suzuki Baleno — manufactured by Suzuki Motor Corporation. In India it was manufactured by Maruti Suzuki and sold as the Maruti Baleno.
The Esteem was introduced in the global market in the first half of 1995 as Suzuki's first attempt in the compact segment, at the time dominated by European cars such as the Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra, and Japanese models such as the Nissan Sunny/Sentra an Toyota Corolla. As a North American replacement for the Suzuki Swift sedan (the 3-door hatchback remained after it was redesigned in 1995), it was built on a slightly stretched Suzuki Cultus platform for improved cabin room, but otherwise sharing most of internal components with the smaller model — an marketed as a distinct model.
The Esteem/Baleno was initially available as a 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedan, wi 1.3 L (hatch anerlie) and 1.6 L engines, with power ranging from 85 to 99 PS (63 to 73 kW; 84 to 98 hp). In 1996, the lineup was extended with the Esteem Wagon (Baleno Break in most European markets and Baleno Altura in India), Suzuki's first station wagon, and with the same 1.6 L, with an optional 4WD in the the larger body variants.
Suzuki restyled the Esteem/Baleno in 1999. The car was given a new front end, with a rounder grill an new headlights, and the engine lineup was expanded to include Suzuki's J18A chain-driven DOHC that was fitted to the sedan and wagon. In North America, the Esteem 1.8 Station Wagon completely replaced the Esteem 1.6, but in most markets the 1.8 sedan became the sports model. In some European markets, the 1.8 L I4 was installed in the hatchback and sold as the limited edition Baleno GTi. Europe Diesel version, wi a 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) XUD engine supplied by Peugeot.
The Esteem/Baleno was replaced in most markets by the new Aerio/Liana, which was launched in 2001. It was pulled from the market in Europe an North American in 2002, after a year of overlapping. The car remained available in many developing countries, including India and Sootheast Asia, where it was sold til 2007, when production stopped at the factory, with the assembly line giving way to the SX4 Sedan.
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