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Maruti Suzuki Baleno
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Customer Rating
: 3/5
Expert Rating
: 8/10
Warranty
: 3 Year Warranty (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
Delhi
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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5.46 Lakhs-8.77 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Smart And Practical Demeanour
  • Loaded With Features
  • Powerful Engines
  • Flexible Cabin

Weak Areas

  • No Diesel Automatic
  • Lacks The Rivals’ Appeal 
  • Average Space
  • Cramped Boot
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
 
 

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Converts A Sceptic Into A Believer

12 years of driving a Fiat never let Jishnu cave in to the Maruti craze. But the Maruti Suzuki Baleno Alpha, with its combination of great mileage and smooth performance made him switch sides.


Author

By

ecardlr.com National

Overall Rating
Comfort
Performance
Value For Money
Style/Look
Safety

Car Owned - Maruti Suzuki Baleno Alpha-Diesel Variant.

Ownership Since - July 2017

Kilometers Driven - 8430Km. I average 40-45 Km every day in the city. Haven't had the opportunity to take it to the highway.

Number Of Services Done Till date - The first two.

Mileage - 13.5 - 14.5 Km/L.
 
        


Jisnu Baleno Review

Buying Process

My buying decision was based on the budget that I had thought of, which was between 7-8 Lakhs, 8 Lakhs being the upper limit. I didn’t find anything suitable below that price. The other challenge that I have is that I have a tough time getting into small cars because of my height - I'm 6'3'. For Example-Hyundai Eon is one of the cars I checked out though I'm not big on flashy cars. I thought as long as it serves a purpose I'd better check it out but I couldn't even get into the car no matter how hard I tried in what whichever way.

Most of the other cars, especially in this segment - they are cramped for space - if they have a wider body, they are short on the leg-room or they would have enough leg-room only in the front. I really wanted a car which can accommodate 4 people easily when I need to, say on a weekend trip or for shopping. 

The third optional criteria was the car being an automatic one - as the constant stop and go traffic, gear shifting in the traffic of Delhi, and constant shifting of legs from the brake and accelerator and clutch etc.- all of this would cause extreme fatigue to me. So I was done with driving manual.

I had not zeroed down on a segment and was looking at hatchbacks, sedans, Mini SUVs et al.

OTHER CARS CONSIDERED

Toyota Etios
Nissan Micra
Nissan Sunny
Hyundai Elite i20
Maruti Ciaz
Honda Jazz

Toyota Etios


I absolutely hated the lack of any kit inside the car. It was very plain Jane and basic with no automatic climate control option. The seats were very bench-like with no lumbar support or cushioning even in the front seats. Plus the brakes were the most horrid of all the test drives I had taken - I ensured to each time take a straight line brake test. The Etios took a while to stop and that was scary as well. I didn't really see myself driving on the highway going even beyond 80-90 Km/hour in that car.

Nissan Sunny - I really didn't like the boxy look of it.

Maruti Ciaz - 4lakhs beyond my budget.

In the two months I spent looking for a car, I must have test driven anything and everything below 15 Lakhs - if I were able to get in it, that is.

Once I Had narrowed down on the premium hatchback segment in India, the 3 options I set my eyes on were

Hyundai i20,Maruti Baleno and Honda Jazz.


Hyundai Elite i20

Turned out to be the most expensive car out there and they didn't have the automatic variant in the top end model.

They offered the Automatic Gearbox variant probably in the Sports model though I was looking at the Asta which was available in only Manual, so again it went beyond my budget. It does have a better kit compared to a Baleno. It didn't make practical sense to spend 2-3 Lakhs more on a like-to-like car option that I didn't feel like was the best value for money option.


Plus I didn't like the steering. All three had an electronic steering but the Baleno tightens up when one picks up pace hence giving you a bit of feedback thus keeping you in tune with the tarmac as in the road down below and instills extra confidence during cornering and doing high speeds. This is in contrast to the i20 wherein the steering feels really loose, both at high speed and low speed. So I don't think I'd have gone for the i20 even if it had fit my budget.

Honda Jazz

The Jazz has parallel shifts in the automatic trim unlike the Baleno but the automatic trim was not available in the top model. The model below was way behind in terms of features I was keen on getting a car with a combination of both -the features and the automatic option- a decision I came to after having test driven both manual and automatic options of all the variants of almost all the cars I was considering and I was sold on the CVT gearbox. The cabin room was lesser in the Jazz as compared to Baleno, in spite of being a more expensive car. If we were to compare like-to-like models of both- there's a difference of about 40-50,000Rupees, that too after a hefty discount from the Honda guys.

Finally I decided on the Baleno.

Had to make multiple bookings because of the long waiting period. I think this was one of the first Alpha variants to roll out of the assembly line with the CVT gearbox and I was on of the luckiest first owners.

When I had gone to pick up the car as it took a while for the fact to sink in  that there was no discount, no offer, no freebies for any of the models from Maruti, be it a Baleno or a Swift or a Dzire. That did come as a rude shock-to not be provided even a perfume- something that is but normal with other manufacturers.

Hence to get a better discount on an insurance I got third party insurance done instead of getting it from Maruti that saved me a couple of grand.

Adding to that disappointment was the fact that eventually when I was given the car, it was dirty and not cleaned properly and the odometer read 78 Km. As per my experience and knowledge, it's supposed to be typically less than 20 Km. One doesn't expect their car to be driven all the way no matter where the stockyard is. I was not happy about that. The car was dirty from the inside as well- a lot of smudges. The branch manager offered me a dry cleaning service which I am still to take up on yet as it's not advisable for a dry cleaning service during the winter seasons-which is when I got the car.

Overall my experience with Pasco has not been that well.

My Previous Car

Fiat Petra-Diesel Model.

An obscure choice, but back then the price that it came at and what it offered made it a practical choice.

Everyone else was clamouring for a Maruti but I hadn't ever been a big fan of Maruti because of the cheap materials used as also the overall look and feel of their cars. Felt very Made-for-the -masses with no premium feel, no matter what price bracket it came at. The other cars I had looked at then were the Wagon-R, the Esteem as well. We got the Petra for 5 Lakh and it was a diesel car.

It was robustly built, it was 1.1 Tonne, was a small sedan but the design was such- they had scooped out the front and the back- so that one had more leg-room and elbow-room as well. Although from the outside it had a very small footprint, very unlike a hatchback. It was a perfectly fine car to dive, but I had driven it for 12 years and it was literally falling to pieces. Hence it was high time that I upgraded my car. So we scrapped the car.

City Drive

It's a dream to drive in the city in this. In fact I would suggest the Baleno to anyone who is thinking of buying within this price bracket. I would ask them not to rely on just the fancy kit provided inside in other cars because they can be installed later on.

In terms of drivability, comfort and ease of use, I consider it a dream to own this car.

What I Love About My Maruti Suzuki Baleno

Fuel Efficiency


     Maruti Baleno Maileage

The Average Fuel Economy is 14.5 Km/L. 

From what I understand when I speak to my friends who drive other cars is that the Fuel Efficiency of this car is pretty good.

I mean, 14-15Km/L in the city drive, especially in the crazy traffic that we have in the metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. is pretty impressive as far as I am concerned, having seen the traffic in these cities first hand.

Safety Features

     Maruti Baleno Rear View Camera

I give it full marks, especially by Indian Standards. All Nexa cars by default come with ABS and EBD. They come with Child Seat Harnesses in the back seat which is something that is not common practice in India by most of the manufacturers and it has dual airbags as standard kit across all segments. So even if one goes for a low end Baleno which is a Baleno Sigma model, one would get all these 3 features.

The chassis used in this is a TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) platform that Maruti has come up with and even by US standards, they have been rated very well. The challenge that comes with that is- I think they used cheaper sheet metals to balance out the cost. Although the chassis and the protection and the beams in the front and back ensure that even if you hit something, the passengers would be protected inside.

Braking Controls

The braking is good. I haven't really tested it in extreme conditions but it has performed to my expectations. In fact it's a lot better than the likes of Nissan Micra or the Toyota Etios. The latter I had considered when I was getting a new car as it falls in the same price bracket and has a larger boot space, but the things that do not work to its benefit is that it has a very poor kit to offer inside, has poor seating and the brakes aren't that good. The brakes didn't offer me much confidence- as in, with this car I know it will stop when I need it to. One of the things I had tested while buying is the time taken for the car to come to a standstill on a straight line when we are driving upwards of 70-80 Km/hour, and this was the best performer. The Micra and the Etios took ages to stop.

Ride Quality

      Maruti Baleno Steering

Ride Quality is good for the city driving. I'm not really sure how it will perform when one cross speed of 100-120 Km/hour on a highway. It might get a little bumpy there since the car is not at all heavy, weighs about 960Kg which is crazy. What I've understood from feedback from the owners is that it kind of rattles at high speeds.

The steering tightens up when approaching higher speeds but it is a little inconsistent unlike a Fiat or Honda or Volkswagen where the feedback from the steering is very good. It is not as good as the makes of the above said but it's better than the other Maruti cars. By feedback, I refer to the tight 'feeling' that I would get out of a hydraulic steering. At least it's not as bad as an i10 or i20. I feel Hyundai has one of the worst steering feedbacks while driving. It's more of a personal viewpoint. All I can say is that this car doesn't give me that feel of the road as I would get from a European make while driving or cornering.

What I enjoy about driving the car is the feel- which stands true from driving an Automatic which is what I feel everyone should drive as it makes your life so less stressful. And it causes less road rage too I think as one need not start or stop or shift gears every single second when driving to and back from work.

CVT Gearbox

     Maruti Baleno CVT

If my memory serves me right, Honda was the first one to bring into the market the CVT gearbox. This one allows you to have an infinite gear ratio unlike a manual car which has a range for each gear and there is a limited number of gears. In CVT, depending upon your speed, the gear is automatically switched so you won't have to give any input at your end, rather I can just put it on drive and move along. The gear box takes care of what gear ratio has to be maintained so that I get the maximum and the optimum output.

The CVT gearbox is ideal for a city, wherein you get the right balance between good mileage and great power unlike the DSG (Dual Sequential Gearbox) gearbox that gives great power but is a little skimpy on the mileage side. So with this car there is the challenge of overtaking as it doesn't gives you that instant power which one is used to having with a manual gearbox. But I think that's a fair trade off for the comfort that we get instead.

The AMT gear boxes that Maruti has for the lower variants like the Alto or the Wagon-R or Celerio - don't have the infinite gear ratio but have limited gears. Only difference is that instead of you switching gears, there is an inbuilt mechanism which allows you to shift automatically. Hence the smoothness of the drive is missing, as in one can 'feel' the gear shifting into place with the other automatic gearbox technologies that are available. With the CVT, the lag time is not felt.

The gear shift that happens when there is a change in power output which is got when we go to a higher gear is not really seen in this car. The drawback that comes with it is the 'Rubber Band' effect that comes with all the CVT gearboxes - a slight amount of lag when one tries to do any overtaking manoeuvre and one has to accommodate about a few seconds to adjust for that. This is unlike, say a DSG gearbox which gives us an excellent response and instant power. This problem with the CVT gearboxes is the same across all car manufacturers, say for example the Honda City gearbox.

Suspension

The suspension is pretty good quality. I had read online that some of the initial batches when the car rolled out of the company used to have quite a harsh suspension but Maruti then went ahead and replaced the suspension over the years as per the owners' complaints and did so absolutely free of cost.

That problem I think has been eradicated with the new models especially the models manufactured post 2017 and all the older ones have also been brought up to the same level. So for city drive, I think the suspension has been set up correctly and I've not had any complaints from anyone sitting in the back as well about poor ride quality.

What I Think Can Be Improved In The Maruti Suzuki Baleno

Mileage


I would have given a 5/5, had Maruti not cut some corners and added the options that they make avail of in their other cars like that in the Ciaz wherein they provide the E-Braking system which, if I'm not wrong lets you build up power in the batteries while you are driving to be used later on. They have the new Enhancer technology in the new Swift model as well, which is available internationally, especially in Japan which makes possible a mileage of 25-26Km/L. I know adding such options would have brought up the price but as it is we are paying a premium price for a Maruti so it hardly makes any difference. Paying almost close to Ten Lakh for a Maruti is unheard of and makes most people who have never owned a Maruti or driven a Baleno consider your purchase foolish. It is a common perception that one ought to target the international players if a higher price bracket is what one is considering.

Although I might provide solid reasons as to why one ought to buy a Maruti, but explaining the same to a third person becomes difficult as because till date, Maruti is seen as the common man's car which is cheaper and with inferior build quality and safety features.

Performance

My car is fairly new and I've covered 8300Kms. So it's pretty soon for me to be talking about its engine. So far it hasn't given me any trouble and as such no car should until up to 3 years or so unless there is any malfunction. I'd term the performance as adequate as Maruti has never been that big on power. I still believe there is scope for improvement as this is the same engine they have picked up from the Swift and Dzire- so not much advancement in that respect.

Service Experience

I am not happy with the service provided.

Like almost all other makes, the Maruti Baleno also comes with 3free services. The first one is after the first 100Km or in the first month of ownership, the second one is at 6000Kms or after 6months (whichever is earlier) and anything else if need be and the third service is at
10,000 Km or after 12 months where they change the engine oil.


I had done my first two free services from Pasco Automobiles in Gurgaon and these first two could be had done at home. So it was pretty cool to have them come right at your doorstep with all those gadgets and do all the service and wash your car.

I was out looking at them when they were washing the car and they were using very little water yet the result was the same as one would have with a proper carwash.

It was at the second service where I was a little disappointed and was left wanting for more.

After a 5 day working week, I was not keen on dropping the car for the service myself so I chose the pick up option that they were offering. I had given them some basic advice when the guys came to pick up the car- not to use the common cheap polish on the plastic inside the car (the smell stays and lingers thereafter), to check on this persistent groaning noise I'd been getting from the brakes - yet they failed to follow these instructions. That pissed me off.

This left me wondering if they actually do any work whatsoever during the service.

Now I am in a dilemma whether to sent the car over to the dealer for the next services. Plus home services are allowed only for the first 2services. Home services are obviously preferable as I would have the leisure to monitor them work on my car.

Display Functionality

      Maruti Baleno Cluster

Driving mode

It consists of Distance unit, Fuel Economy, Language, Fuel Reset, Temperature, Set Sensors (Normal Mode/Trailer mode), Clock setting.

Trailer mode is I think an intuition protection system if a trailer (not a concern for Indian roads) is behind you otherwise it will give keeping an alarm that something is right behind you-up close to the car.

The AutoLock can be set at Manual, Speed or Syncro modes. So if I set it at Speed Mode, the moment I speed up, the cars automatically lock up the door. The same modes are present for lock too.

The other interesting features that the car has which definitely places it in the premium segment, for me, are the 'Guide Me' lights. What happens is that once I've turned off the car in the evening after I've parked it, I can just flick the lights on and the lights continue to stay on even with the car powered off and the doors locKed; essentially guiding you to wherever you need to get to.

There are shock sensors with a range too and it helps when a car is passing close by yours by giving off a beep.

The display item consists of - Car colour, Calendar display, Calendar Form, Fuel economy history. The colour variants are 5 in number.

RATING

Comfort:                 4/5
Safety                      4/5
Fuel Efficiency:      4/5
Build Qality:           3/5
Value for Money:  5/5


Why buy a Baleno?

Why I bought a Baleno is the room available in the car - whether it be the leg-room or the head-room or the shoulder room, because of the ease of use when it comes to an automatic gearbox like the CVT gearbox which is available in this variant and because of the on-board kit that is being offered for the price point - these are some of the things that made me lean towards the Baleno as opposed to any other options available - like the Jazz or the i20 for example.

This car, costing above 9 Lakh is value for money simply because the kit offered for this price line is basically all you could ask for. There are very good safety features, Automatic A.C, an inbuilt rear camera with sensors - though with a fixed gridline that doesn’t lap with your steering.

So yes, there is room for improvement in terms of on-board kit but if one is willing to pay in between 7-10 Lakh and looking for a car which is a pleasure to drive in the city and has good fuel efficiency, one can't go wrong with the Baleno - whether it be the Manual or Automatic.

Why not buy a Baleno?

The primary reason to not buy the Baleno is the build quality. For somebody who is upgrading from a German car or even a Japanese car like the Honda - one definitely notices the downgrade in terms of build quality especially the sheet that is being used to make the car. If one considers a car to be essentially robustly built and be like an iron box - then this is definitely not the car for them.

Pros

  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Suspension
  • Drive Quality
  • CVT gearbox

Cons

  • Mileage can be better
  • Engine can be developed
  • No discounts offered
  • Servicing not satisfactory
     

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