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Old 13th May 2009, 20:49   #1
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Default Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added

“It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.”
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00513.jpg
The proof to this statement comes from the two stable mates in my garage- a 2006 Baleno LXi and a 2004 Ikon ZXi- both from the bygone era, but with delightful 1.6L petrol engines putting an identical 91bhp.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00522.jpg
While some of you might argue that these cars are by no means slow, in the company of modern day cars they sometimes feel so. Besides I’m not the sort of person who dares to push a tin can of Indian engineering (with Japanese or European origins) with the same courage as I would do 220kmph in a German saloon. The German cars are so well planted and adept at masking speeds that after a quick drive in them, the Baleno or the Ikon feels scary and about to take off at 140kmph.

That brings me to my current signature. I did 200kmph in an Audi a few days back and it felt great. But apart from the speedo and the blur of the scenery there was little else to suggest I was doing double ton speeds. There is a sense of serenity and composure that was impressive and even when it was attacking a long sweeping corner, it all felt like child’s play. So to see if it gets any better, I made the speedo needle climb a few notches higher and the car still felt very solid except that the scenery was rushing past much faster and that yellow Lancer SFXi that blew past me a while ago looked standstill as I overtook him. The world appeared to have slowed down and everything around, the cars, buses, lorries, shrinked in my rear view mirror. The Audi was hurling towards the horizon without letting me feel the strain. It all felt very detached…like in a 747 where you are sipping coffee unaware of the fact that the pilot is pushing his big kite to 900kmph. He might be sipping coffee in his cabin too.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01148.jpg
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01167-copy.jpg

To get a better sensation of speed, I occasionally take either of the two 1.6L cars to a good road with proper corners and floor the pedal. As the wheel spins and gears swap, one thing is sure. This is instantly more fun. The idea is to keep the pedal floored as long as one can and to enjoy the rush. It feels as if you are going to die and then you realise you made a narrow escape from the death noose the cowboy from hell that he swung over your head in the hope of taking you to his boss. He says ‘I will be waiting’ while you grin, brake hard and attack the next corner.

If the Audi felt calm at 200kmph, it was because it was designed to. The Baleno or the Ikon weren’t engineered to mask the speed and I am thankful they aren’t. If they were, there are very few roads where I could push them to their top speeds to get these occasional thrill doses. These cars are as basic as a shaving blade. If you aren’t careful, you will bleed. There is no electronic stability programme to keep you on steady course, no traction control to cut out the unintentional inside wheel-spins in corners and dangerous enough, there is no ABS or EBD. It is you and the car. Just three pedals, an innocent looking wheel and two levers near the centre console- one that allows you to keep the engine screaming and the other that makes the car dive into corners as you yank it hard and turn the wheel. The lack of insulation also plays an important role in giving the sensation of speed. Even if you are eyes-shut, the noise of the tyres rolling and the wind gushing will keep you informed about the speeds you are doing. Add to that the howl of a petrol engine at the top of its power band and the amount of road shocks filtering into the cabin, you immediately know you are not in a car that disguises speed. As a result, at 120kmph, the Baleno feels lively. At 140kmph, it feels slightly more vigorous and at 160kmph it feels as if it’s going to explode. The lightness of the car and the noise makes it feel a lot more exciting than the Mercedes or Audi which feel sublime and silent at speeds much higher than that. This is more like a roller coaster that is built to give the sensation of speed at 80miles per hour rather than the 747 that is designed to keep you comfortable when covering hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01158.jpg
With a car like this, you don’t have to push it too far out of the safety envelope to get the rush of adrenaline. I don’t have to crash at 200kmph only to be told, at the ICU, by a nurse, what exactly happened. It would be far more comfortable doing the same at 120kmph and not missing any of the action. Whether I’ll survive is a different story, but you get the point.

Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01165.jpg
Before the debadging.

The Baleno and the Ikon may have similar capacity engines with similar power outputs but yet they are so different in character. The Japanese engine of the Suzuki loves to rev to the limiter. It pulls cleanly from low revs but it is after 3000rpm that its real potential is exhibited. The tachometer goes to the rather stern rev limiter in no time but before that you can slot it into second gear. My favourite gear, the tall second allows it to touch a speedo indicated 110kmph and keep pushing further. The growl of the Greens Cotton CAI which is best heard reverberating between concrete walls between 2800rpm and 4200rpm is subdued in the scream of the engine as it nears the redline.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-img_0477.jpg
Adding to the experience of the rev happy motor is the reasonably well sorted suspension which allows you to extract a fair amount of fun from the stable chassis. The well weighted steering though not as sharp as I would like it to be, is capable of placing the car on the road exactly as I intended. Mid corner bumps are easily covered and do not unsettle the car to the extent it gets unmanageable. When pushed to the limits, it safely understeers and the front end pushes wide. A jab of handbrake and a dial of opposite lock is all you need to get back in line. I have the Baleno running on 185/65R14 Goodyear GT3 tyres. Some say it lacks grip but I like to keep it that way. I don’t want a lot of grip and lose out on the fun getting it sideways. It is adequate for my driving requirements. The Baleno has strong and properly modulated brakes that inspire confidence.

It is not perfect however. For instance, the engine could do with lots more power. Of course, there are innumerable solutions for that, so we shall leave it at that. The gearbox has rubbery shift quality and I occasionally miss the gears when shifting fast. It lacks precision and is completely dull and unsporty. Besides, the DIY bug occasionally bites me and I quench it by showing the Baleno, its dreadful set of tools. That includes the instrumentation changed to red, the debadged and then rebadged rear, the subwoofer moved into a box after its bad install on the parcel shelf etc.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc02646.jpg
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc02649.jpg
I'm no audio expert but I can tell moving the sub into the truck in its own enclosure made a perceptible difference in SQ.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc02640.jpg
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc02645.jpg
The only badge at the rear. Will post daylight pics if needed.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00077.jpg
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00074.jpg
The red backlighting. Was posted in the DIY section earlier.

The Ikon on the other hand has remained unharmed by my sparsely equipped tool kit. The high cost of Ford spares might have been one deterrent. Or it may be the complicated way of building things by Ford that makes DIY modifications a tedious affair (Benbsb29 and others have been successful at some, though). Or may be it was because the car belonged to a close friend who entrusted me with it and sobbed slightly when he handed over the keys.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01061.jpg
Yes, my dear friend, I have been extremely careful with it. In an attempt to improvise things, I opened up the meter console to replace the simple looking white dials with something flashier that has a backlit system. That first DIY attempt ended with the speedometer needles breaking apart only to be replaced by….Johnson and Johnson earbuds in jet black colour. That was a temporary solution but now that I have lost my interest, it seems this will be all the Ikon will ever have in place of the original needles. Oh…opening up that meter console also recovered the missing ZXI badging on the left front fender complete with the protective sticker on the chromed side. I doubt the person at Ford who was entrusted with the job of fitting the logos was having a chat with the person fitting the meter console when the bell for the tea break went off and they left their work pieces together in one place.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc02637.jpg
This ZXI badge was sitting inside the speedo assembly.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00792.jpg

The Ikon 1.6 is a car whose potential is known to very few people. I have read long term reports from Jaggu, Bunny Punia, Normally Crazy etc and I know they are not exaggerating because I drive one. Muneemmk, who gets the credit for ‘the bhpian who visited my house the most number of times’, on the other hand thought it wasn’t a good idea to keep an Ikon 1.6. To his defence, he has heard countless horror stories on ikons, constant problems on various components, exorbitant spare costs, bad fuel economy and poor resale value. This was until he drove it in our hometown. Within five minutes of driving he discovered the Ikon’s magic and that pasted a huge grin on to his face. If you haven’t driven an Ikon, I seriously suggest you do.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc01085.jpg
Unlike the Baleno’s 16valve engine, this has a simpler eight valve layout. But this handicap on paper doesn’t affect it in any way on the road. In reality, the Baleno is the faster car. But the Ikon feels much faster. The engine is very responsive and has its torque concentrated lower in the power band which coupled with the short gearing makes it a hoot to drive. Part throttle responses are crisp giving the Ikon an edge in overtaking. You can drive it at 25 percent of the throttle and still feel it has loads of grunt than most other cars around. The engine develops a rorty exhaust note as it revs up which add to the overall excitement. The gearbox is delightfully spring loaded and shifts precisely. The chassis is much livelier than the Baleno’s. The front end of the car has loads of bite while the rear end feels happy to come around in corners. The steering is very accurate and much sharper passing on every bit of useful information to your fingertips. In fact it is so direct that you counter-steer almost instinctively, much like in a go kart when you drove it the first time. Feed in more opposite lock and you would be facing the direction you came from. Making corrections and tightening your line in between the corners are easy. The stiff suspension is great at corners but the serious omission of an anti roll bar is evident and discomforting. The biggest problem area in an otherwise sweet package is braking which is inadequate. The brake pedal feels mushy up to a point after which the brakes bite suddenly and the wheels lock up. The short gearing makes the engine sound rather strained at highway speeds.

So here we are. Something that started out as a discussion has ended up as some sort of a long term report of the cars minus parameters like ride quality, comfort, interiors, fuel efficiency, service costs etc. Coming back to where we started, I am happy to have two 1.6L cars that bring a smile on to my face every time I take them out for a spin. They are down to the earth basic machines when it comes to luxury, safety or comfort. But these drawbacks are easily forgotten once you in the driving seat and presented with a good winding road. The best part is that you can utilize more than 80 percent of their potential for almost all the time. Unlike any powerful Audi, or BMW or Merc.
Vivek's Baleno and Ikon- the 1.6 twins. EDIT : New wheels and interiors added-dsc00515.jpg
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Old 13th May 2009, 21:04   #2
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Very well maintained vehicles and great pictures too.
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Old 13th May 2009, 21:22   #3
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Amazing report vivekji05. It is a privilege to have two such 1.6s at the same time. One question, what is the top speed of the Ikon 1.6?
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Old 13th May 2009, 21:57   #4
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Lovely report, Vivek! I quite like your presentation and composition of snaps.
Its nice, the way you have maintained both these cars.

Posting a snap of your Ikon which i worked upon earlier :

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Here's a tricky question : Among the two, which is the car you feel more possessive about if someone wanted to borrow it?
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:06   #5
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Excellent thread Vivekji. Always a pleasure to read your threads, especially one about a car that I too have.
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:09   #6
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@Vivek, Well Written : one of the few long posts like this that I have read in one go. And some lovely pics too.
Quote:
benbsb29 : Here's a tricky question : Among the two, which is the car you feel more possessive about if someone wanted to borrow it?
Looking at the number of pics of the Baleno ...
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:21   #7
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Nice report, Vivek. The Ikon1.6 is a car I would love to drive once. Just to know how it fares against my Baleno. Some day...
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Originally Posted by benbsb29
Here's a tricky question : Among the two, which is the car you feel more possessive about if someone wanted to borrow it?
That is surely a tricky question, Benny. :-)
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:28   #8
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Fond memories. We had an Ikon 1.6 too some years ago. I really fell in love with that engine - which even in stock form would do wheel spins easily in 1st gear! It was geared well, looked stunning, had a lovely low-mid torque curve (which I personally prefer) and handled brilliantly. To this day, I prefer the Ford 1.6 to the Baleno 1.6 engine.
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Old 13th May 2009, 23:08   #9
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Thumbs up The Car that taught me to do wheel spins @ 60kmph in 2nd gear.

The first time I saw his Ikon I was like why did he make such a mistake ,that too with his own hard earned money from his paychecks which he had saved up.I thought he should have done better with his money or bought a better Jap Car.

My constant rambling almost day on and day off ticked Vivek off one day , He asked me have you driven an Ikon like it should be driven ,I said no, He gave me the keys, off we went,In the first 90 degree turn that we graced upon I was carriyin more cornering speed than I have ever done in my entire life and I am still here to tell the tale, the Opposite locks were so natural, after the exhaustive drive, I was simply blown away, the unbelivabily direct handling of the car coupled with the hoolingan power delivery floored me , from a ford hater to a ford lover later that weekend I went to the Local Ford Showroom to get myself a Test Drive of the Fiesta 1.6S, none was available for test drive.I am so much in love with the car, the suspenion is nothing much to write home about ,but the way the car handles just because of it's chasis capabilitys ,leaves me with no other words to describe it. "Sweeet" and I am saying it with a really wide on my face.

Those of you who have been there and done that please ignore my bickering others please take note and get your self a drive in a ford, a 1.6 if possible ,I would say you are not an enthusiast if you haven't had a taste of the Ikonic 1.6.

I rest my case.

Does anyone want to hear my take on the Baleno ?

@ Vivek thanks for the drive and teaching me a lesson or two in real driving, you have opened up a new dimension for me. Also put some pics of the new doorpads of the Baleno.
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Old 13th May 2009, 23:49   #10
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Very well written and you just made me feel very heavy at heart, reminding me about iKON!

Great cars, please keep em pampered for many more years!
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Old 14th May 2009, 00:07   #11
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The Ikon 1.6. Hmmm Am still living the dream. Apart from all its little problems (Which i have overcome now) its an awesome car to drive.
I look at almost every ikon on the road whenever i get a chance nothing comes close to this... This car is CLEAN. Its looks awesome. Not a single scratch, dent etc. I jus love it. Great goin man.
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Old 14th May 2009, 04:23   #12
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Awesome writeup vivekji! which of the two cars do you prefer? any mods on the Ikon 1.6?
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Old 14th May 2009, 08:44   #13
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Thank you M@verick, srijit, govigov,danlalan, Jaggu



Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Amazing report vivekji05. It is a privilege to have two such 1.6s at the same time. One question, what is the top speed of the Ikon 1.6?
ACI in their road test says it will get to 174kmph. The best i have done is a speedo indicated 160kmph. You know the ikon has a lot of speedo error so I was nowhere close to that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
Lovely report, Vivek! I quite like your presentation and composition of snaps.
Its nice, the way you have maintained both these cars.



Here's a tricky question : Among the two, which is the car you feel more possessive about if someone wanted to borrow it?
It always hurts when I have to hand over the keys to anyone whether it is the Baleno or the Ikon. The Baleno was driven by me or my father since day one, so that is one reason. The Ikon might be old but its body repairs are expensive so I will give it only to those whom I really trust.

Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Vivek, Well Written : one of the few long posts like this that I have read in one go. And some lovely pics too.Looking at the number of pics of the Baleno ...
You are sort of getting the drift. But the larger number of pics of the Baleno was to showcase the DIY mods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
Nice report, Vivek. The Ikon1.6 is a car I would love to drive once. Just to know how it fares against my Baleno. Some day... That is surely a tricky question, Benny. :-)
Perhaps we can have a race. You drive my ikon and I drive your Baleno. I will not let the Ikon fail. What say?

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
Fond memories. We had an Ikon 1.6 too some years ago. I really fell in love with that engine - which even in stock form would do wheel spins easily in 1st gear! It was geared well, looked stunning, had a lovely low-mid torque curve (which I personally prefer) and handled brilliantly. To this day, I prefer the Ford 1.6 to the Baleno 1.6 engine.
As an engine I too love the Ikon's Rocam unit more. It's power delivery is much more usable and exciting on an everyday basis unlike the Suzi which needs to be revved hard. But as a car, the Baleno is much more refined, has a better AC, better seats, better ergonomics and a more stable chassis. And better brakes too..!
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Old 14th May 2009, 09:14   #14
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Great report. Lovely pics. Did enjoy every part of it. Which car do you love to be in for longer drives.
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Old 14th May 2009, 09:18   #15
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This is a really nice thread, Vivek! I enjoyed reading it very much. Great pics too! You have two beautifully maintained cars. Respect!
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