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Old 5th December 2005, 15:49   #1
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Default Baleno - 35,000km report

Hi,

Well it was five years ago that i decided to buy the baleno. I decide to buy it after evaluating the following:

1. Opel astra
Pros - great roadgrip, Solid feel to the car
Cons - Sluggish performance, had only one dealer in bangalore who had a dubious track record from a service perspective

2. Lancer
Pros - Had everything going for it - performance, interior space, suspension, sports model etc.
Cons - A little pricey

3. Honda
Pros - Heard a great deal about it and scheduled three visits to their showroom for test drives and each time they failed to keep up the time, the last straw was after promising a test drive car for the fourth time at my residence, they did not land up! was so pissed that i decided that if this was their attitude before buying a car, what would be the experience in after sales service - i decided against going in for the Honda.

4. Ford
Had the outdated ford (cant seem to remember the name too now!) model and did not consider it.

I had a friend who ran one of the local maruti dealerships and had bought the esteem from him, so decided to try out the baleno (as i had sort of decided on the astra).

I got to keep the test car for a day, so drove around the city for a bit and my experience compared to the astra was - great performance! The stability of the car was not as good, the build quality too did not match the astra, but considering the dealer support, price, performance - decided to go in for it.

The first thing i noticed was that the road handling and grip with the factory fitted tyres was BAD (felt the centrifugal force in turns would definetly take me off the curve), so i got those changed to much broader tyres. The others were standard - brighter halogens, electronic locking, upgraded the music system with a CD changer, Sony Amp and tri way speakers.

I was one of the fortunate ones to have an office literally walking distance, so over the five years, i have clocked just 35,000 kilometers, with a few long distance trips - but mostly city driving.

Observations:

1. If you follow the recommended guidlines to change stuff and get it serviced, generally jap cars do not give you trouble. The car has NEVER died on me.
2. I am really happy with three things about the car
a) low rev tourque - with city driving, you rarely get to the fourth (my wife owns a ford rally sport which i drive over the weekends and i rarely get to the third in that nowadays!). The performance and pickup even at 2-2.5K rpm on third @ cruise mode to acceleration to overtake cars is great without having to change to 2'nd. Performance is great overall. The thing i have noticed (which was evident in the esteem as well, but not on the ford) is that when i bought the car and accelerated and turned on the airconditioner at the same time, it had no effect on the performance, but now after a few years, the airconditioner being on has a more pronounced affect on the performance.
b) Quite - when you have the windows up and the aircondioner on, it really cuts the traffic noise! With the traffic increasing in bangalore, patience of drivers running out, it helps to be able to listen to oneself and your favourite music.
c) Fuel Efficiency - with the a/c on in the city i get 10-12kmpl depending on the traffic pattern and where i drive. I have got upto 15.5-16kmpl on highways (a good bit of driving done in the 5'th gear).

The areas that i have not liked the baleno so much are:
1. Braking performance - Lot to be desired - i had a panic stop situation when i slammed the brakes when an old man on a cycle, suddenly decided to move from the left lane to the right lane on a highway when i was doing nearly 100kmph and the steering refused to respond, it took forever to come to a halt though i left a good bit of rubber on the road. Will certainly look for a ABS in the next car i buy.
2. Build quality - after five years you begin to hear the creaking of an old car - not something, you hear from other solid german cars.
3. The suspension is not great. The comparision often is made to your previous car (in my case the esteem) and i said its much better till i drove other cars in the same bracket..

Overall, i would say that baleno filled the gap in the maruti lineup of what to buy next after an esteem, but it did not have the market image (and maruti's marketing did not help either). It is a good VFM car, but not a car for someone who wants to create an image by driving one. Maybe i missed out on the Honda, but i had some fun times driving the baleno over the five years and looking forward next year to upgrade to a better car..
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Old 5th December 2005, 16:07   #2
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Hey Rangaraj,

Nice, short and to-the-point review.

Quote:
2. Lancer
Pros - Had everything going for it - performance, interior space, suspension, sports model etc.
Cons - A little pricey
Why do you state pricey? In the Y2000, the price difference between a Baleno and a Lancer was only 15,000 - 20,000. Atleast in Bombay.

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Old 5th December 2005, 17:30   #3
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Pretty candid write-up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rangaraj
Honda ... if this was their attitude before buying a car, what would be the experience in after sales service
Similar experience I had with Honda here too. So much for their 'legendary' service etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rangaraj
1. If you follow the recommended guidlines to change stuff and get it serviced, generally jap cars do not give you trouble. The car has NEVER died on me.
It would be interesting to know you maintenance costs over these years .. approximately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rangaraj
but now after a few years, the airconditioner being on has a more pronounced affect on the performance.
Any inkling about the reason behind this ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rangaraj
3. The suspension is not great. The comparision often is made to your previous car (in my case the esteem) and i said its much better till i drove other cars in the same bracket..
And which cars would these be ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO
Why do you state pricey? In the Y2000, the price difference between a Baleno and a Lancer was only 15,000 - 20,000. Atleast in Bombay.
Maybe he's referring to the SFXi. Didn't that cost around 10L ?
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Old 5th December 2005, 17:53   #4
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Default Nice Review

nice review rangaraj...
You will get lot of response as there are lot of baleno Owners here.. including me....

a bit concerned on loosing the performance of the A/C with only 35K on the clock... Guess some gas filling or similar can bring it back to original shape...

and as shuvc asked can you tell us about the maintenance cost... any specific parts changed in all these years or only the routine service???
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Old 5th December 2005, 18:11   #5
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Default Some answers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catamaran
nice review rangaraj...
You will get lot of response as there are lot of baleno Owners here.. including me....

a bit concerned on loosing the performance of the A/C with only 35K on the clock... Guess some gas filling or similar can bring it back to original shape...

and as shuvc asked can you tell us about the maintenance cost... any specific parts changed in all these years or only the routine service???
CAT
Well, the A/C works fine, but there is a drop in performance with/without the a/c on when i am going up a slope, rapid acceleration etc. I keep comparing it to the weekend "josh" car - ford, and i dont see as much drop in performance in that vehicle as i do with the baleno - maybe it is my driving style, maybe its the ford's inherant high-rev engine compared to the relatively low rev baleno engine..I hate riding the clutch, so that's when you tend to notice it..

With regard to the maintenance costs, it was mainly routine service, and did not change any part (other than those involved with minor accidents), but i seem to have a perpetual problem of one of the headlights (left) blowing and tend to change it nearly every service. Have not checked it out with the service guys though..
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Old 5th December 2005, 18:22   #6
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Default Few more..

Thanks GTO, shuvc, catamaran.. Here are some more answers..
Quote:
Originally Posted by shuvc
Pretty candid write-up.


Similar experience I had with Honda here too. So much for their 'legendary' service etc.


It would be interesting to know you maintenance costs over these years .. approximately.Any inkling about the reason behind this ?

And which cars would these be ?


Maybe he's referring to the SFXi. Didn't that cost around 10L ?
You are right.. i was considering the SFX and it was around 10L vs 7.75L of the baleno. With regard to the maintenance costs, i did answer it in a previous reply, but the average bill would be approx 2K per vist (~5K kms) including things such as airfilter change, oil change etc..

Regarding the other cars that i think had better suspension and ride quality in the price bracket of 8L-10L at that time - Ford (not the ikon), lancer & astra. I heard that the Honda at that point of time was a chassis with a powerful (Vtec) engine thrown in with pretty much nothing else ;-).. Never spent time in one to cross check that! Ajmat and a few others would sure have something different to say..
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Old 5th December 2005, 18:38   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rangaraj
I heard that the Honda at that point of time was a chassis with a powerful (Vtec) engine thrown in with pretty much nothing else ;-).. Never spent time in one to cross check that! Ajmat and a few others would sure have something different to say..
If you read my reports etc, the chassis does limit the Vtec at high speeds. I enjoy it's acceleration and hyper-character. Again, all that the Lancer has is a great rear suspension. In terms of showroom appeal, it would be limited - except for keen drivers. Bit like a basic Omega watch - high quality bits but very few of them- mitigated by easy running costs.

Back to the Baleno - try regassing the A/c - less use means more trouble. The Baleno is well engineered but the bluff looks and drab interior turned me off.

Shame about the Honda treatment - if you read my running report - competition is making them pull up their socks
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Old 5th December 2005, 19:02   #8
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Quote:
You are right.. i was considering the SFX and it was around 10L vs 7.75L of the baleno.
Its incorrect to compare the regular version of one car with the fully loaded of another. The model appropriate for comparo was the GLXi. And it was within 15 - 20 grand of the Baleno.

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Old 5th December 2005, 19:11   #9
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Default Lancer..

I agree GTO. I had heard of a horror story of a friend who had hit a milestone with his lancer and had a 1.5L bill (you could buy a maruti those days with that money)..

The baleno (though the advert at that time said european styling) is no great looker.. It sort of blends into the traffic, no one looks at it the second time, but has a good engine/power to weight ratio. The interiors were basic, no where near the class of astra, but not significantly worse than the honda. The lancer was if i remember somewhere in between.

The reason for me taking the decision to go with baleno over the astra/lancer was the dealer/service network and the cost of spares. Othewise the other two cars had a better build quality and presence than the baleno. The Honda lost out due to dealer issues.
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Old 6th December 2005, 09:18   #10
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Nice review, Ranga..., probably the first one that has chronicled its performance during 5 years. My home/workplace commute is similar to yours and will expect similar usage in 5 years from now on my new Baleno VXi.

I too found the car to be unstable beyond 120, especially 140+, in spite of 175/70R13, so I keep it safely in the 100-110 range. But I found the braking and steering response at normal speeds to be very good, probably because it's still very new.

Thanks anyway for a reassuring review since I bought this horse more for battle (on wretched Mumbai roads) than for ballet.
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Old 6th December 2005, 09:23   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msprabhakar
I too found the car to be unstable beyond 120, especially 140+, in spite of 175/70R13, so I keep it safely in the 100-110 range.
I have 196/60R14 yokos, it is very stable until 160, haven't pushed it further, yet.
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Old 6th December 2005, 10:11   #12
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rangaraj,
that's a very good and unbiased review.

Quote:
Braking performance - Lot to be desired -Baleno
Quote:
Braking performance - good -Ikon
I must say that's wierd. The only thing i hate about Ikon are the terrible brakes. It just shames the awesome handling ability of that car. Whereas the Baleno seems to have very good breaking even with stock tyres.Braking efficiency would only increase with wider rubber.You seem to have had the opposite experience.
I too have had the opportunity of panic braking at 110-120kmph on the GT road- no trouble there.
Have you checked for the usual, brake pad wear etc etc..

Quote:
The thing i have noticed (which was evident in the esteem as well, but not on the ford) is that when i bought the car and accelerated and turned on the airconditioner at the same time, it had no effect on the performance, but now after a few years, the airconditioner being on has a more pronounced affect on the performance.
Actually an Uncle of mine has a 1Lakh+ Km (done on the Odo) old Baleno from late 1999. One of the reasons that i had bought a new Baleno myself was that when i drove this old car and a new test drive vehicle, there was almost no difference in engine performance. And even now sometimes i think that my 5000 km old Baleno is a tad less peppier than the older vehicle(of my uncle)..[that might be due to the Euro III revision of specs in another thread.http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...mance-car.html (Do Euro-III norms affect the performance of the car)]

So loss of power at 35K km only is wierd. Even well maintained Zen's and Esteem's seem to run well till about 60K Km.
Have you checked the usuals like injector deposit, Fuel filter clogging etc etc.. I have read at many places that as the engines grow older they require additives and/or higher Octane fuel to cope up with the carbon deposits. Maybe you can try that. Try revving your car till the redline in the 2nd gear and see if it manages something near the 100 kmph..

Last edited by imjimmy : 6th December 2005 at 10:16.
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Old 6th December 2005, 10:23   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imjimmy
rangaraj,
my 5000 km old Baleno is a tad less peppier than the older vehicle(of my uncle)..[that might be due to the Euro III revision of specs in another thread.http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian-car-scene/8818-do-euro-iii-norms-affect-performance-car.html] (Do Euro-III norms affect the performance of the car)
Now that you mention it.
I have 2 Baleno brochures with me. The old one which was created when MUL launched the LXi , VXi versions .. it's the same one which is available as a PDF at their site.
The new brochure is a 2 sided flyer which mentions the new VXi features. However the difference doesn't end there.

Old brochure:
Max Power - 94 @6000rpm
Max Torque - 132 @3000rpm
Weight - 975kg

New brochure:
Max Power - 91 @5500rpm
Max Torque - 130.5 @3000rpm
Weight - 985kg

Why the difference in figures ? Is this the effect of EIII norms ?

Last edited by shuvc : 6th December 2005 at 10:24.
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Old 6th December 2005, 10:32   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imjimmy
rangaraj,
that's a very good and unbiased review.



I must say that's wierd. The only thing i hate about Ikon are the terrible brakes. It just shames the awesome handling ability of that car. Whereas the Baleno seems to have very good breaking even with stock tyres.Braking efficiency would only increase with wider rubber.You seem to have had the opposite experience.
I too have had the opportunity of panic braking at 110-120kmph on the GT road- no trouble there.
Have you checked for the usual, brake pad wear etc etc..


Actually an Uncle of mine has a 1Lakh+ Km (done on the Odo) old Baleno from late 1999. One of the reasons that i had bought a new Baleno myself was that when i drove this old car and a new test drive vehicle, there was almost no difference in engine performance. And even now sometimes i think that my 5000 km old Baleno is a tad less peppier than the older vehicle(of my uncle)..[that might be due to the Euro III revision of specs in another thread.http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...mance-car.html (Do Euro-III norms affect the performance of the car)]

So loss of power at 35K km only is wierd. Even well maintained Zen's and Esteem's seem to run well till about 60K Km.
Have you checked the usuals like injector deposit, Fuel filter clogging etc etc.. I have read at many places that as the engines grow older they require additives and/or higher Octane fuel to cope up with the carbon deposits. Maybe you can try that. Try revving your car till the redline in the 2nd gear and see if it manages something near the 100 kmph..
I should get my baleno's brakes checked!!! I seem to have given an impression that with the a/c on, the performance is bad - not really. I am comparing it to with the a/c on to when it is off. Though i have been trying different fuels to compare the FE, i usually use speed (not 93) and find it the best for FE, but shell's premium gives the smoothest drive. Need to spend more time the next time i give it for servicing.. Most of the ikon driving has been in the city and i have had a decent experience with regard to the braking - i guess the settings are a little tighter compared to the baleno. Will work on it and get back later on the renewed experience.
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Old 6th December 2005, 10:43   #15
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Quote:
Why the difference in figures ? Is this the effect of EIII norms ?
It doesn't seem like that.The Euro III Balenos have been around for many months(with the same figures.) Euro II was discontinued some time ago.. It's only when the new features (like Climatizer wider 14" rubber etc) came out with the Vxi, that the brochure was changed. So it appears that the engine changes (including the increased weight) were manifested when there were cosmetic changes in the new Baleno.

BUT Even now the website still has the old 94 Bhp power figures- surprisingly it's updated for the recent changes in the Vxi model.

So one of them is incorrect.The specs on the website or those in the new brochure.

If indeed there were changes when the Euro III car was launched then it's a serious matter. That means that Maruti sold the car for many months with incorrect technical specifications and only recently updated them. So that's improbable.

sorry for being a little
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