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Old 25th February 2004, 16:45   #1
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Transferred from my report in Formula India:

My work took me to worli today, and since I had an extra hour I decided to drop in at Vitesse and testdrive the Baleno. Maruti has just given a massive price-cut and the Baleno with tax and insurance works out to only Rs. 719270 Ex-Thana (which is the preferred choice for us Mumbaites, since we save on 4.5% octroi charges.) Vitesse is currently offering a 13000 cash discount on this price. If you opt for finance the discount will be proportionately higher. Also MUL has very recently launched a stripped of "mags and wings" version at Rs.6,46,000 on -road. Heres my first impressions after a 45 minute session with the Baleno.

On the looks front, the Baleno can be termed as plain horrible. The front end is the only saving grace on this car, while the rear is an absolute disaster with those boxy non-wraparound lights. The side profile is okay, but the mag wheels that Maruti provide with the car look even worse, in my opinion, than regular wheel caps. The 165mm tyres also look really skinny on a car of this size. Incorporated in the front bumper is a neat looking set of fog lamps but the other new addition; the rear bootlid spoiler, is a feeble attempt at trying to make the rear look presentable.

Speaking of magwheels and foglights, for a car of this price the Baleno is extremely well-equipped. It comes FULLY LOADED with power windows, electric mirrors, keyless remote entry, central locking, alloy wheels, spoiler, decent remote-controlled kenwood stereo, fog lights, tilt adjustable power steering, power antennae among a host of other smaller details.

The minute I started this car I was instantly impressed at the free reving nature of the Suzuki 1.6 liter engine. Its acceleration is really really good, and a nice torque curve gives it amazing city driveability. The refinement though is not at all in the league of the City(old or new)/Lancer duo.

Another pleasant surprise were the brakes. Though they felt a tad over-servoed, they are just brilliant in feel and stopping power supplying the driver with tons of confidence. The gear shift though is horrible, and it felt like a really stubborn hard plastic eraser (the type we have all used in school). Power steering is very well-weighted and I especially like the three spoke design (which I think has just been introduced).

Marutis flagship sedan handled the bad Mumbai roads pretty well and ride quality is only second to that of the Mitsubishi Lancer in this segment. It is far superior to what the older Honda city offers, but I don't remember the new City's drive that well to make comparisons between these two. The rear seat in the Baleno is no great shakes.

Interior quality was decent, but the dated design shows all through. There are now some new chrome inserts and a kenwood to spruce up the dash, but the almost decade old design still shows through. Typical suzukiness shows in the way that, if you manually lock the drivers door from inside, all the other doors don't automatically lock. You have to use an ergonomically uncomfortable central locking switch on the drivers door to lock all passenger doors. The good thing about being inside this car is that the air-con was an absolute chiller, inspite to today being a hot afternoon.

After a highly spirited drive on the worli seaface I pulled back into the parking lot of Vitesse. The thoughts that were running through my mind were all around why its not hard to figure out the market failure of this car. It has been a sales disaster in India, but its hasn't exactly performed well in Asia, Europe or the United States either.

Inspite of a powerful engine, it did not come across as being refined. It has good brakes and is well-equipped but I still wouldn't buy a Baleno, not even at this price. First and foremost is that when I pay 7 - 8 lacs for a car, I want it to feel special, luxurious, upmarket and classy. The Baleno is neither of these. Looks are very important to me and the Baleno fails miserably on this count too.

Lastly the depreciation is LIGHTNING fast on this car. In the year 2000 the Baleno was priced more or less in the same range as the Honda City (+/- 5 %). Butttttttttttttt you can get a three year old Baleno for 3 lacs odd, while a year 2000 Honda city 1.5 will fetch you around 4.75 to 5 lacs. For most people in India, a car is the second largest invenstment after a house and the Baleno can, at best, be termed as a stupid investment.

I guess that I am not the only enthusiast to opt out of the Baleno. How many Balenos do you see on the road with a good set of alloys, meaty grippy tyres and a free flow exhaust system? I still haven't seen a single one. Compare that to the endless number of Citys/Lancers/Zens/Esteems etc. and you will know what cars Indian enthusiasts prefer. Also enthusiasts will definitely do more research than the corporate types and will know an exciting car from a boring one.

If Maruti had done what Suzuki had globally i.e. replace the aging Esteem with the new Esteem (a.k.a. Baleno) maybe things would have been different for this car. As things are, its no wonder that Vitesse has a problem selling 5-8 Balenos a month and this is Maruti's best dealer in Bombay!

GTO



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Old 18th January 2005, 18:46   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO
Transferred from my report in Formula India:

My work took me to worli today, and since I had an extra hour I decided to drop in at Vitesse and testdrive the Baleno. Maruti has just given a massive price-cut and the Baleno with tax and insurance works out to only Rs. 719270 Ex-Thana (which is the preferred choice for us Mumbaites, since we save on 4.5% octroi charges.) Vitesse is currently offering a 13000 cash discount on this price. If you opt for finance the discount will be proportionately higher. Also MUL has very recently launched a stripped of "mags and wings" version at Rs.6,46,000 on -road. Heres my first impressions after a 45 minute session with the Baleno.

On the looks front, the Baleno can be termed as plain horrible. The front end is the only saving grace on this car, while the rear is an absolute disaster with those boxy non-wraparound lights. The side profile is okay, but the mag wheels that Maruti provide with the car look even worse, in my opinion, than regular wheel caps. The 165mm tyres also look really skinny on a car of this size. Incorporated in the front bumper is a neat looking set of fog lamps but the other new addition; the rear bootlid spoiler, is a feeble attempt at trying to make the rear look presentable.

Speaking of magwheels and foglights, for a car of this price the Baleno is extremely well-equipped. It comes FULLY LOADED with power windows, electric mirrors, keyless remote entry, central locking, alloy wheels, spoiler, decent remote-controlled kenwood stereo, fog lights, tilt adjustable power steering, power antennae among a host of other smaller details.

The minute I started this car I was instantly impressed at the free reving nature of the Suzuki 1.6 liter engine. Its acceleration is really really good, and a nice torque curve gives it amazing city driveability. The refinement though is not at all in the league of the City(old or new)/Lancer duo.

Another pleasant surprise were the brakes. Though they felt a tad over-servoed, they are just brilliant in feel and stopping power supplying the driver with tons of confidence. The gear shift though is horrible, and it felt like a really stubborn hard plastic eraser (the type we have all used in school). Power steering is very well-weighted and I especially like the three spoke design (which I think has just been introduced).

Marutis flagship sedan handled the bad Mumbai roads pretty well and ride quality is only second to that of the Mitsubishi Lancer in this segment. It is far superior to what the older Honda city offers, but I don't remember the new City's drive that well to make comparisons between these two. The rear seat in the Baleno is no great shakes.

Interior quality was decent, but the dated design shows all through. There are now some new chrome inserts and a kenwood to spruce up the dash, but the almost decade old design still shows through. Typical suzukiness shows in the way that, if you manually lock the drivers door from inside, all the other doors don't automatically lock. You have to use an ergonomically uncomfortable central locking switch on the drivers door to lock all passenger doors. The good thing about being inside this car is that the air-con was an absolute chiller, inspite to today being a hot afternoon.

After a highly spirited drive on the worli seaface I pulled back into the parking lot of Vitesse. The thoughts that were running through my mind were all around why its not hard to figure out the market failure of this car. It has been a sales disaster in India, but its hasn't exactly performed well in Asia, Europe or the United States either.

Inspite of a powerful engine, it did not come across as being refined. It has good brakes and is well-equipped but I still wouldn't buy a Baleno, not even at this price. First and foremost is that when I pay 7 - 8 lacs for a car, I want it to feel special, luxurious, upmarket and classy. The Baleno is neither of these. Looks are very important to me and the Baleno fails miserably on this count too.

Lastly the depreciation is LIGHTNING fast on this car. In the year 2000 the Baleno was priced more or less in the same range as the Honda City (+/- 5 %). Butttttttttttttt you can get a three year old Baleno for 3 lacs odd, while a year 2000 Honda city 1.5 will fetch you around 4.75 to 5 lacs. For most people in India, a car is the second largest invenstment after a house and the Baleno can, at best, be termed as a stupid investment.

I guess that I am not the only enthusiast to opt out of the Baleno. How many Balenos do you see on the road with a good set of alloys, meaty grippy tyres and a free flow exhaust system? I still haven't seen a single one. Compare that to the endless number of Citys/Lancers/Zens/Esteems etc. and you will know what cars Indian enthusiasts prefer. Also enthusiasts will definitely do more research than the corporate types and will know an exciting car from a boring one.

If Maruti had done what Suzuki had globally i.e. replace the aging Esteem with the new Esteem (a.k.a. Baleno) maybe things would have been different for this car. As things are, its no wonder that Vitesse has a problem selling 5-8 Balenos a month and this is Maruti's best dealer in Bombay!

GTO
Hey like what you wrote ! But performance wise , what would you choose ? A lancer sfxi or a baleno . Am getting a baleno 2002 model and a lancer sfxi 2000 model (both have done about 40k)for 3 lakhs . according to you which one is a better choice?
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Old 18th January 2005, 20:02   #3
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But if they had replaced esteem wid Baleno then the Esteem sales wud have gone down too. In my opinion they shud have introduced all the features of Baleno in the Esteem itself & badged it as the Esteem 1.5(like the City's) & am sure it wud have been a bigger success.

@GTO: Btw keeping in mind that once ur inside the car(i.e. forget the looks), all that matters is performance & control wud it still be a bad buy ??
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Old 18th January 2005, 20:49   #4
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no way......once ur inside its one of the best buys u could make...(especiall if it has thicker tyres......)
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Old 18th January 2005, 22:06   #5
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yeah, I've heard its a hoot to drive........
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Old 18th January 2005, 22:54   #6
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Quote:

@GTO: Btw keeping in mind that once ur inside the car(i.e. forget the looks), all that matters is performance & control wud it still be a bad buy ??
The Baleno is an awesome buy! It also offers the most performance for your buck.

But looks matter too much to me. I'd never be able to see a Baleno parked in my garage.

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Old 19th January 2005, 11:02   #7
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The baleno with wider rubber (185 should do) is an awesome car to drive. powerful, lovely handling, stable. i took some 1000 odd km to get used to the petra's handling, whereas in the Baleno i was comfortable in under 5km!!!

cribs: lousy interiors and switchgear quality, slab like rear

only suggestion is that if you upgrade the rubber, also upsize the rim from 13" to 14"

i got my dad to upgrade his tyres but the dealer did not have any 14" rims and he could not upsize the rims. i have driven about 200km in that and i found it very very good. only the steering response is a little 'slow' (??) due to the wider rubber, i think. that should fix itself with 14"rims....
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Old 19th January 2005, 11:30   #8
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put a wider tyre and its an excellent car, trust me its a hooter on those long high way trips and much better compared to the City, wrt rugged build and ride. its a tough car and altura is even better in this front.

if i were a family man with 2 kids, i wud have a black altura parked in my garage for sure
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Old 20th January 2005, 11:41   #9
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Thx guys coz even i have driven it & found the engine really nice & peppy & even did 120 on a test drive
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Old 21st January 2005, 15:23   #10
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The Baleno Is One Hell Of A Machine That You Can Buy At This Price, No Wonder The Baleno Is Increasing In The Speed Run And Our Roads.....which Other Car Offers Such Performance At This Price.. Give It Thumbs Up.
And The Flat Back Gives It A Certain Kind Of All Muscle No Fat Character.
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Old 23rd January 2005, 13:14   #11
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Baleno is an amazing machine.But it still lags behind its prime competitor,the Vtec.
All Maruti needs to do is launch the Baleno with a new and an improvised look.It will certainly sell like hot cakes thereafter!!!
Now only if a Maruti executive is a member of this site!!!

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Old 23rd January 2005, 13:22   #12
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Quote:
Baleno is an amazing machine.But it still lags behind its prime competitor,the Vtec.
All Maruti needs to do is launch the Baleno with a new and an improvised look.It will certainly sell like hot cakes thereafter!!!
Now only if a Maruti executive is a member of this site!!!
How can the Vtec be the Baleno's prime competitor? It's not even in production now.

I don't see why the Baleno shouldn't sell like hot cakes even now, considering that it's price tag has been reduced by 4 lakhs. Ofcourse you can get a 2nd hand Vtec for less than that, but i don't think, that has been the key factor in the Baleno not selling in large numbers.

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Old 2nd February 2005, 22:08   #13
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I recently took a test drive of the baleno as well...

Like everyone else is saying...the car is really good to drive...
the engine revvs pretty easily to the redline, and yes it could have been a little less noisier but it sounds good to me.
the steering feel is good even at speeds of above 120.
One thing i didnt like was that the tilt steering was limited only to 2 definate positions.

The car begs for more rubber...proof of this brakes locking up quiet frequently and getting 2nd gear wheel spins with great regularity during the test drive. Handling is pretty decent too...but this is bound to get better with better tyres.
Fatter tyres are the first upgrade you should invest in when you buy this car,

the interiors are better than before, the vxi gets the silver finish center console which brightens up the interior to some extent. The lxi trim gets an all black console which really looks dull.
The power window switches (except the driver sides) look really cheap.
However the electric controls for airflow direction was one feature i really liked and the AC is just superb.

The backseat is really very comfortable with decent legroom...the ride was excellent but this was probably due to the fact it was riding on high profile stock tyres. I really liked the backseat...it was much better than that of the accent.

This car is offering good performance at a very reasonable price...yeah it looks dated...but i saw a black baleno with a bodykit and fatter rubber...all that stuff really changed the look of the car. If i were in the market for the new car with a budget of about 6 lakhs, i would seriously consider the baleno.

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Old 4th February 2005, 17:01   #14
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hey guys
what is better
a new NHC or a baleno0 lxi ith better tyres, spoiler, chrome console
it would be used for city use and i think my dads planning to get one after selling off my cars.
its meant to be a surprise so im not meant to know anything about it but since i do i have been praising the baleno alot lately
butmy dad wants something small - his driver told me the options are esteem,santro,NHC so i will go for the NHC but only if its shorter then the baleno and from its looks it is
can any one clarify
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Old 4th February 2005, 19:35   #15
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see if u are lookin for FE the nhc would be better...but drivablity and if u r saying you are going to put better tyres and stuff it will be much better than stock...to make it a little more peppier all u need is a peroformance k&n filter...
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