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Old 12th April 2005, 18:16   #1
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Post Baleno Lxi Test Drive

Today I test drove the Baleno Lxi. After couple of schedule confusion, they finally landed at my home with the test car. Surprise, surprise, it was not stock. The Lxi which should be riding on steel rim and 165/80R13 was instead riding on 175/70R13 with Alloys. Smart chaps!

I kept reminding myself not to compare this engine with the 3.2 VTEC beast I used to own. After driving in some really bad traffic, I choose Jayadev flyover as my test track. I stayed in 2nd and ripped it. By the time I reached the end of the flyover, the maruti salesperson claimed I had hit 100KMPH after the peak point. May be, I don't know since I was watching the road. Anyway, there was a stopped vehicle at the flyover exit and I had to come to complete halt. I was quite surprised how easily I could bring it to a stop on the slope in that speed, being in 2nd gear may have helped. After that I drove on some bad (almost mud) roads to test the ride comfort. My wife sat in the back to test the rear seat comfort. She was pleasantly surprised at the smooth ride, much better than the NHC ride on a better road.

Pros:
Great engine, at no time it felt underpowered. It kept on giving while I climbed the flyover incline.
Braking was excellent.
Amazing AC.
Surprisingly great low end torque.
Rear seats are extremely comfortable, great thigh support. Leg room was adequete.
Front bucket seats were great too. However, my wife had some issues with the front head rest. We are going to try that again with some seat adjustments.
I mentioned many mods I require and the sales guy was fine with all of them and said everything will be covered by warranty.
Seat covers were good although grey.
Car felt quite solid and rigid unlike my former Maruti cars. Rode the humps and potholes without a squeek. Felt quite safe.
Very good ride comfort. I intentionally didn't avoid any potholes and rode fast over humps and not a squeek from my wife in the back either...

Cons:
Very dull looking dash and interiors, needs to be souped up. This can be fixed I hope.
The gear shift is not very smooth unlike the NHC.
Tiny side mirrors when compared to Santro.
The head rest for front passengers is not very good, this is big issue for my wife.
There may be other cons, but wasn't apparent to me.

The Baleno Lxi on road in Bangalore will come to Rs. 6.5L before any mods. I think that is an excellent value, only Rs. 1L more than Fiat Petra on road. Now if you consider the A.S.S and service network, that one lakh premium suddenly feels worth it.

Anyway, I was planning to test drive Petra too, therefore I decided to give a call to Sundaram. But, where is their number? Fiat has no website, so you can forget that route. So I googled for sundaram motor bangalore fiat and got these two links as first two hits.

http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Pal...l)-53324-1.html (one year old review)
http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Pal...l)-71115-1.html (one month old review)

Reading these two links suddenly put things into perspective. I really liked the Baleno performance, even impressed. Now if I test drive the Petra, it is possible I'll be impressed even more, say by 10%. Based on feedbacks from BHPians, I don't think Petra will be head and shoulders above Baleno, the differences will be marginal. Such difference will not make up for the A.S.S and peace of mind you get from Maruti. Besides, with Fiat I might lose warranty on many parts due to mods. Finally I don't think I have the stomach to deal with Sundaram. In my company I blacklist any vendor who behaves unprofessionally. Therefore how can I consider a car dealer who is certifiably incompetent and unprofessional. With all these thoughts I have to say NO to Fiat Petra with a heavy heart and Heck NO to Sundaram Motors with relief and glee.
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Old 12th April 2005, 18:34   #2
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another baleno lover...wow!!!
well samurai what you have said is 100% true.
i am trying to put up pics of my ride...check it out.
done the interiors up a bit.
the biggest problem is that they NEED bigger/wider rubber.
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Old 12th April 2005, 18:39   #3
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What cash discount they're offering? Who's the dealer? If you get a substantial discount consider this... after your purchase, drive it down straight to the shop and go for 195 tyres. You'll get a good exchange price on your OE wheels especially if they're 175 size. I would change the rims also but it's up to you there.
Lot of people will have negetive comments about 'Hot Tracks' but I think he's the best in terms of offering and choice. I know him well enough to say this.

By the way your car puja can happen after that
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Old 12th April 2005, 18:42   #4
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you should drive out in baleno from the showroom for around 6.0lacs dont know after VAT.
even i agree that hot tracks has good choice and offering. you pay for the exclusivity.
i know because i did.
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Old 12th April 2005, 18:44   #5
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hey samurai,

175/70 r13 is not the right upsize for a baleno.maybe the dealer has put 175/70r13 from the esteem.actually 185/70r13 is the enxt correct upsize.
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:02   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman91
the biggest problem is that they NEED bigger/wider rubber.
That's not a problem, I call it is an opportunity... I am thinking 195/55R15 Potenza GIII with yet to be decided alloys. What should be the rim size for this, 5.5 or 6?
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:06   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedsatya
175/70 r13 is not the right upsize for a baleno.maybe the dealer has put 175/70r13 from the esteem.actually 185/70r13 is the enxt correct upsize.
I know it is not. I was commending them on not sending it out on 165/80. I am only looking at 195/55 and 15".
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:13   #8
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for recommended rim sizes on the GIII,
see this

http://www.tongseng.com.hk/Page/Product/G3.html

Quote:
I am only looking at 195/55 and 15".
wow.15 inch rims wud look cool on a baleno
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:29   #9
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Aha samurai you cheater!!!!!!!!!! you turned down your first luv fiat (petra) for a maruti(baleno) . what did you see in her , looks or her structure or money behind it??
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:33   #10
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Yup, 195/55 R15 should do fine. GIII is a good choice. However, go in for 6" rims (width).

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Old 12th April 2005, 19:36   #11
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he he vulken cant stop laughing dude...
great sense of humor. Me thinks... well dont wanna end up in trouble here

go ahead buy the baleno you cant go wrong with that one. interestingly MUL gives the dealers about 65k to deck up the baleno. My friend who owns the MUL dealership in coimbatore has got a baleno for testdrive which has got side shirts, 14" HR alloys and 195 profile tires. even their Wagon r has got alloys. He said the company provides for the cost.
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Old 12th April 2005, 19:41   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vulken Auto
Aha samurai you cheater!!!!!!!!!! you turned down your first luv fiat (petra) for a maruti(baleno) . what did you see in her , looks or her structure or money behind it??
But I didn't touch, only ogled... You can't call that cheating.
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Old 12th April 2005, 21:24   #13
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Well, your review of the Baleno is spot on with my assessment - I guess I agree with everything - 2 more things I didn't like were the lack of height adjustment in the seats in the Lxi and that after putting PU seat covers the seats aren't that tight - I'm no longer sitting in them as much ia i was - i'm sitting on them - but they still have a very sporty feel as compared to other cars.

The interiors are dull - maybe a different shift knob, and those faux aluminium inserts the Vxi has might help (I'm planning on these as well), With the addition of 14" awith 195/60 Michelins, 5 spoke alloys, medium tint and Black Seat covers - my car looks good (to me at least but now I wish I'd gone in for 15" with 195's only)So think of those options as well.

Yup - the gears aren't that smooth - no where near the slick Honda City gearbox but with that torque to crawl along in the city , that can be forgiven. It's amazing how I can just flow slow as molasses in 2nd or even third along with without th engine sputtering.

Btw what all are you getting free ?

We got

Onroad it was coming for 6.2 but we got it reduced as we got a certain percentage of the financed amount back.

1 years insurance
16000 discount for taking a Euro II
A Nippon Audiotronix MP3 CD Player - I find it just right and don't need anything fancier
A 'mini fridge' - it's a small cooler box with chills / warms food/bottles etc
Floor Mats came with the car
I ordered Bridgestones since the trade in value is higher than the JK's

See if you can get the mirrors and door handles body painted - and I wish the chrome on the grille and around the windows could be removed - I want a plain Black mesh grille.
but beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

And I'd recommend the Michelin MXF Sports to you over the GIII's - quite noise sometimes but good grip - I finally opened up the car a bit and have come to love them.

so you finally made up your mind to join the Baleno Club !

btw folks, what all mods are okay without voiding the warranty - a stock air filter is fine - I'm being offer one for 'around 3500' by performance auto here - might get that - but anything further ?
Is it possible to go for a stiffer suspension, strut brace, sump guard (i guess an exhaust is out) or any handling/perf mods which won't void the warranty and stil clear scrutiny at the Maruti Autccrosses/ RdH etc.

zaphod
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Old 12th April 2005, 22:45   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
didn't like were the lack of height adjustment in the seats in the Lxi and that after putting PU seat covers the seats aren't that tight
That was one feature I worried about, didn't want to buy Vxi just for that feature. However, once I sat in the seat it fit me perfectly, so no worries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
that torque to crawl along in the city , that can be forgiven. It's amazing how I can just flow slow as molasses in 2nd or even third along with without th engine sputtering.
Oh boy, I did most of my test drive in 2nd gear. I mean, I could crawl at 15kmph or rip at 100kmph all in 2nd gear. What a range...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
Btw what all are you getting free ?
Don't know, didn't get that far. I hadn't finalized on Baleno then. Anyway, I am planning to call them tomorrow and discuss the rest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
Onroad it was coming for 6.2 but we got it reduced as we got a certain percentage of the financed amount back.
I wonder how mine came to 6.5L, got to check the details tomorrow. It did include free insurance and 3rd year extended warranty. I am taking Euro III. Maruti was offering MP3 player until March end, not anymore. I'll ask anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
And I'd recommend the Michelin MXF Sports to you over the GIII's - quite noise sometimes but good grip
Does that mean less ride comfort than GIII, ride is important to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
so you finally made up your mind to join the Baleno Club !
Yes, where do I register...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod
Is it possible to go for a stiffer suspension, strut brace, sump guard (i guess an exhaust is out) or any handling/perf mods which won't void the warranty and stil clear scrutiny at the Maruti Autccrosses/ RdH etc.
I am planning to go for K&N Filter, Strut brace, 195/55R15 GIIIs and MP3 player for now.

Last edited by Samurai : 12th April 2005 at 22:47.
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Old 12th April 2005, 22:56   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen
What cash discount they're offering? Who's the dealer? If you get a substantial discount consider this... after your purchase, drive it down straight to the shop and go for 195 tyres.
Is it a good idea to get the new set of wheels/tyres from the dealer because Bimal guys do offer tyre/wheel/filter upgrades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen
Lot of people will have negetive comments about 'Hot Tracks' but I think he's the best in terms of offering and choice. I know him well enough to say this.
Yeah, I need some good choice in alloys, still wondering which one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen
By the way your car puja can happen after that
My four US cars never received any puja, only the Indian ones got that honour
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