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Old 31st May 2010, 19:48   #1
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Default "Lady Lightning"- My trusted Japanese companion, the Baleno

Ladies and gentlemen, please don't draw any conclusions. Looking at the title please do not presume the that I drive like lightning. The fact is I am really bad in naming cars and all that sudry stuff I own. In fact all three dogs I ever owned (over the time) had the same name. So, "lightning" is nothing but english translation for my car's name- Baleno

Why the Ownership thread?
It has been raining TBHP with ownership threads on new gen cars, which is a sign of changing times. Three years back, every other thread would have somehow got dragged to a Baleno Vs OHC fight. And this is the car I wanted to own for sometime, and I have owned (and in love with) one for some time. I hope people would appreciate the story about my oldie.

Here she is
"Lady Lightning"- My trusted Japanese companion, the Baleno-cimg3939mod.jpg
And here are some facts to begin with

Baleno Lxi- 2005 Dec
Odo- 53000 Kms

Next: The dream and the hunt
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Old 31st May 2010, 20:45   #2
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Joji, didnt know you got yourself a Baleno! What happened to the Esteem? Has that been sold?
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Old 31st May 2010, 21:26   #3
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Default The Dream and the Hunt

I do lot of interstate trips between my home and workplace/temporary home. Simply put I had been getting a bit frustrated by my "Old Lady" a 2000 model Carb Esteem. My dream car once, which I owned for more than three years, it served me well. Then the "Old lady" was, well,
getting really OLD. Add to that, roads were improving and highway speeds were picking up, and I was getting older too. SO, one day I woke up and decided I need a car that is a faster and more stable on highway. I also need to clear the hurdle of the car being comfortable for the ladies in the family. For the point, I am not allowed to use my negotiating skills, I
would have to take them for a drive and then they would vote- no other way. I have also decided this being my third used car purchase, I'd do it without anyone from my family of Auto-experts stepping in.

To beging with, I had my "A team" assembled. Team consists of
1) Me- The running man
2) A close friend, who is SAARC sales head for an MNC- He would be my ace negotiator
3) My Friend who is a mechanic and ownes a Garage- My tech guru.
3) Another friend, who is also an auto dealer- My Procurement specialist and firewall from bogus deals
4) The ladies= High priests who would bless (or curse) the deal.

Being in hunt for used car, usual car buyers' preferences such as choice of color, versions etc were ruled out. We quickly arrived at the list of probables

1- Baleno Vxi (if not, then) Lxi- Euro III only
2) Elantra CRDI- On a stretched Budget
3) Corolla- Post Oct 2005
4) Optra- Since it is quite cheap
5) Pre 2004 Lancer- My all time favorite.

Here is a brief take on each cars by my team

Baleno
Me- Fits my bill all the time. Free service at cousin's garage is added bonus
My Sales friend- Ugly, plain Ugly, and it is not German
My Mechanic- Spares can be sourced, not as cheap as Esteem
My dealer- Bhai, buy an Accord
The ladies- Loved the backseat, AC and ride. Can live with interiors- after all they are living with that of Esteem

Elantra CRDI
Me- Amazing to drive. Stretched budget. Shares are on all time low. So, why not re-route money so that I could buy bigger car soon.
My Sales friend- Ugly, plain Korean Ugly, and it is not German
My Mechanic- Spares can be sourced, definitely not as cheap as Esteem
My dealer- Bhai, buy an Accord
The ladies- Hated the backseat. Interior and ride is nice. Scared of the sheer size, as she needs to drive it too.
Elantra CRDI plan didn't workout as there was none well maintained. Most of those were clocked or had el chepo sun films, chinese tyres etc, indicating owners' state of mind. The should meet our tbhp Elantra owners.

Corolla was ruled out as the quotes were quite high for post-2005 cars

Optra was ruled out as it doesn't excite me on the drive. I am not that old too.

Lancer
Me- I loved it for the looks. Always wanted to own one
My Sales friend- Too old to consider
My Mechanic- Sourcing spares would take some time
My Dealer- For once, no commets as he ownes one
The Ladies- Loved the looks. Liked the backseat too.

To put a long story short, the hunt went for 6 months exact. Takeaway- I learned a lot about Wikimapia and Bangalore City streets. My knowledge of local language went up a few notches.

The Bonus- I landed up with a Baleno Lxi which is Dec 2005 regd. Odo-37000 odd Kms.

My sales friend was in Europe when the deal was done, so I doubled up as Negotiator, eventually making myself poorer in the process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
Joji, didnt know you got yourself a Baleno! What happened to the Esteem? Has that been sold?
More than a year since I bought Baleno. I had both cars for few months.

"Lady Lightning"- My trusted Japanese companion, the Baleno-cimg3219.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
"Lady Lightning"- My trusted Japanese companion, the Baleno-baleno-light.jpg  


Last edited by WhiteKnight : 31st May 2010 at 21:30.
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Old 31st May 2010, 22:59   #4
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very neat car bro.baleno is a very good car.i am huge fan of baleno and using the same since past 5 years.and when i think of upgrade the car comes in my mind is altura!
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Old 31st May 2010, 23:48   #5
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whiteknight looks like you really have clinched yourself a sweet deal.Congrats !!With 37k on the odo am sure she has oodles of driving pleasure to offer you. How much did you pay for it btw ?
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Old 1st June 2010, 08:16   #6
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Default The Ownership

The Ownership

I do take time to build friendship. This one was no different either. I kind of found it hard to let the Esteem go. Whatever Esteem was capable of, Baleno was able to do better. But the problem was Baleno was not so intimate. There is less drama. This car is silent, even when going fast.
Bottom line- No more city hustles. I have indeed become a more sedate driver, with the lightest foot on gas.

The reward is obviously the city mileage I get- 13.5 KpL (Without a/c).

I have covered ~16000Kms since I bought the car and as expected, ~10000Kms was on highways. Here, Baleno delivered more that what I asked for. Supremely confident and willing to take on the unexpected. For me a good car is the one that saves you on your moment of stupidity and this one does so brilliantly. It handles mid corner bumps, unexpected lane changes, broken tarmac and what not. What I like the most is the subtle hum from the engine when it is on the song. When I am not driving, I'd be on the back seat. Peace!!

Highway Fuel efficiency- ~13.8 with a/c

Upgrades and Maintenance.

In spite of all the "A team" drama, I found this car with Maruti True Value only. They changed the headlights free of cost as there were some damage (due to 100W bulbs?). I have immediately changed the tires to 185/65 R14- Michelin XM1+ on Evo Alloys, which cost me ~33000 Rs. Battery and audio system were swapped with that on Esteem.

On the maintenance front, I had to change the clutch as the previous owner's driver turned out to be a habitual clutch rider. It costs me 1680Rs for Clutch Disc and 1230Rs for cover clutch.

I wish I had.

1) ACC. I searched everywhere for the elusive Vxi. I couldn't find one.
2) ABS. Must for a car these days

I hate

1) Driver side power window controls. Poor poor ergonomics. You need a hand made of rubber to use it.
2) Gearshift- Bad for a Maruti. Better than the Maruti hatches though
3) Low speed ride- Pedestrian. Then it gives me all the more reason to level it going fast

I like
The car. As a package, this is unbetable. It also goes well with my personality- Understated. Even the ladies would agree!!

I Miss
The Lancer. Every time I pass one, I turn back and look. A beauty indeed. But then if I owned the lancer, everytime I was passed by a Baleno, I would have been saying something else too.

Beauty be damned. Let me keep the Lightning- a greased lightning

"Lady Lightning"- My trusted Japanese companion, the Baleno-cimg3987mod.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69 View Post
whiteknight looks like you really have clinched yourself a sweet deal.Congrats !!With 37k on the odo am sure she has oodles of driving pleasure to offer you. How much did you pay for it btw ?
Thanks a lot pal. I shall ping you the details

Quote:
Originally Posted by procircuit_234 View Post
very neat car bro.baleno is a very good car.i am huge fan of baleno and using the same since past 5 years.and when i think of upgrade the car comes in my mind is altura!
Thank you procircuit_234. Altura? Haven't seen one for ages

Last edited by WhiteKnight : 1st June 2010 at 08:20.
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Old 1st June 2010, 10:42   #7
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Hey Joji ... you must be enjoying those highway rides, all the more now.

Here's to many more years of happy motoring with The Lady
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Old 1st June 2010, 11:34   #8
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Hey WhiteKnight, Nice crisp report with great photographs. The Lady Lightning does look good.

Enjoy the drives.
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Old 1st June 2010, 14:18   #9
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good report and photos.
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Old 1st June 2010, 15:00   #10
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One question, what kind of service bills did it run thru at 40k ? I ask is coz am just trying to do a comparative analysis with a diesel. Apparently as for my older car, I was told by the new owner except for a oil change nothing else.
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Old 1st June 2010, 18:02   #11
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Thank you @kutlee, deetjohn and RufRoc (Owner of the hottest Swift I have ever seen) for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69 View Post
One question, what kind of service bills did it run thru at 40k ? I ask is coz am just trying to do a comparative analysis with a diesel. Apparently as for my older car, I was told by the new owner except for a oil change nothing else.
Sure rj. Here is how it looks

Extra-ordinary repair
Disc Clutch- 1643.94 Rs
Cover Clutch- 1238 Rs
Labor-

40,000 Service
Engine Oil- 640 Rs
Oil Filter- 84 Rs
Coolant- 236 Rs
Spark Plugs- 244 Rs (They are Champion ones- don't gimme that look, please)
Brake Fluid- 36 Rs
Total - 1240 Rs

Labor+ Paid Service= 550 Rs
Brake Cleaning - 200 Rs

Total Bill = 1990 Rs

Last edited by WhiteKnight : 1st June 2010 at 18:06.
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Old 1st June 2010, 18:08   #12
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Wonderful ownership report.I have seen such a passionate Baleno owner.The alloys look hot.
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Old 1st June 2010, 21:35   #13
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Congrats WhiteKNight for the Baleno. IMO, Zen, Baleno & Esteem had such nice, uncluttered designs which still stand out.
Happy driving with the car.
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Old 4th June 2010, 16:36   #14
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Nice review, WhiteKnight. You have to be commended for clearly identifying the good and bad points of the Baleno. So spot on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteKnight
the problem was Baleno was not so intimate. There is less drama. This car is silent, even when going fast. I have indeed become a more sedate driver, with the lightest foot on gas.
Could not have said it better. The beauty of this car lies in delivering at a slight tap of the A-pedal in almost all gears and at really low rpms. No fuss at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteKnight
Highway Fuel efficiency- ~13.8 with a/c
With all-out driving (at max. speed that road/traffic permits), I easily got 16kmpl. So, your highway figure seems low - what speeds you do on the highways and kind of roads/traffic conditions ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteKnight
I wish I had ACC. I searched everywhere for the elusive Vxi. I couldn't find one.
Hmm. I am not sure whether the ACC deserves the hype it gets. On our Swift, I always found it better to override the ACC and use manual settings. But, I guess it would have been useful in the Baleno during evenings when even Fan setting-1 chills up the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteKnight
I hate
1) Driver side power window controls. Poor poor ergonomics. You need a hand made of rubber to use it.
2) Gearshift- Bad for a Maruti. Better than the Maruti hatches though
3) Low speed ride- Pedestrian. Then it gives me all the more reason to level it going fast
You are spot on about the driver-side controls - don't know how they could design something so ergonomically poor. True about the gearshift too. But never noticed the low speed ride being bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteKnight
I like The car. As a package, this is unbetable.
Oh yes, an absolutely lovely package of space, FE, power, decent looks, bootspace, ride and handling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69
One question, what kind of service bills did it run thru at 40k ? I ask is coz am just trying to do a comparative analysis with a diesel. Apparently as for my older car, I was told by the new owner except for a oil change nothing else.
The 40K service cost me
Rs.4337 (Parts-2607, Labour-1730). Though one point to note here is that the 20K and 30K services done at MASS cost me on an average Rs2600, but the 40K service was done at Electra (non-MASS).
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Old 4th June 2010, 19:38   #15
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Thank you hillram and Utopian for the appreciation.

@hillram, you got one beauty that was the dream car for every car lover- the 309. Your other beauties belong to an era when I was not born

@supremeBaleno. Thank you for commenting. Your's and rjstyle69's were the posts I referenced over years before deciding on the car. Other Baleno owners were, well, too fast for me

Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
With all-out driving (at max. speed that road/traffic permits), I easily got 16kmpl. So, your highway figure seems low - what speeds you do on the highways and kind of roads/traffic conditions ?
Well, I was hoping to get more too. This was tested on a recent Kochi-Bangalore drive. A/c was on all the time. Speed on 4 laned roads ranged 100-150. No stepping on the A pedal though. May be a/c plays a major role.

Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
Hmm. I am not sure whether the ACC deserves the hype it gets. On our Swift, I always found it better to override the ACC and use manual settings.
I might say the same. but I haven't been on a car with ACC for long journys yet. After all grass is greener on the other side!!

Secondly, in used car market, these gizmos don't matter much. So, all I would have to pay would be 10 or 20k more for the Vxi (If there was one ever) .

Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
But never noticed the low speed ride being bad.
Just a relative term. Low speed ride cannot hold a candle to the awesome ride at high speed.

Last edited by WhiteKnight : 4th June 2010 at 19:40.
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