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Old 20th March 2020, 00:52   #1
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Default Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_140045_opening-shot.png

Likes:
• Superb 1.2L petrol engine, smooth and powerful
• Silent cabin; all-around NVH controlled pretty well
• Fuel efficient nature even in BS VI guise
• Slick-shifting gearbox offers a fun-to-drive experience
• Neutral handling, moderately weighed steering that returns to the center too
• Delta variant made even more VFM with the facelift
• Comfortable ride quality with the 15-inch steel rims
• Ample cabin room with storage spaces aplenty
• LED headlamps look modern; auto-retractable ORVMs are very useful

Dislikes
:
• Flimsy build quality prone to dings and dents without any major reasons
• Doors need extra effort to shut due to being lightweight
• Overall light body weight offers little confidence at high speeds
• New feather-touch music system a pain to operate with no rotary knobs
• Music system reboots every time one restarts the car even when key in ACC position
• Four-speaker setup sounds average at best
• Small-sized, shallow glove compartment should've been bigger
• Absence of armrest and middle headrest at the rear
• Illumination from headlamps could be significantly improved

This is the story of our first brand-new car together as we, me and my wife, started our brand-new life and tied the knot in January 2019.

As someone who is a car buff and also related to the automotive industry in some form, I have been following the lateral upgrade route till now and never, barring the Alto that we have at home, went the new car way hitherto.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200219_104314.jpg

I had a Fiat Linea which was bought pre-worshipped in 2012 and sold in 2017, and then a pre-worshipped and almost nearing its end-of-life Mitsubishi Lancer (2004) Invex 1.8 AT (If you could buyback an ex-car of yours, which would it be?), bought in 2017 and sold in 2019, before finally switching to a new car.

While my usage over the last three years has changed significantly and involves multi-modal transportation with heavy reliance on the Delhi Metro which I feel is simply outstanding in its reach and infrastructure, Uber and lots of walking, the need for a new car arose after we sold the Lancer and faced umpteen situations where there was a dire need for two cars for us and our parents to be able to go to different places at the same time.

Furthermore, missing a good ride over the weekends made matters a lot worse for me to finally contemplate a good set of wheels and convince my wife to go for one.

Circa September 2019

The Lancer went to Cars24 in April, with six months of life on the RC, and till September I had been controlling my horses. Finally, one fine day, I and my better half decided that we will go for a new car, albeit on our first anniversary in January 2020. It still had to be a three-four months’ wait.

Preparing to take on the life ahead with a step-by-step approach, we decided to restrict our budget on a depreciating asset, but a valuable one nonetheless, to a nominal Rs 550,000 at the maximum. And, being a collective effort, both of us agreed to chip in equal amounts of money from our salary savings and a minuscule loan amount to get the CIBIL moving, and keep the car as light an expense on the pocket as possible.

In a nutshell, we were looking at a good-specced entry-level car with this budget and the entire story unfolded in a different manner altogether.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200219_104335.jpg

We started off the initial discussions with the facelift Renault Kwid, which grabbed both me and my wife’s attention due to its features and looks at the price point it came at. The Climber AMT would have fit well within our budget.

However, being an enthusiast, I had multiple thoughts running in my mind and features, including LED lights and a touch screen, obviously took a backseat for me over a good engine-gearbox combination. Wife said: “Common, there are so many around and people are buying the car,” but, I could never let go the ghosts of poor refinement, aftersales and resale value away from my mind.

Still, we pondered on the Kwid and I watched and watched a score of YouTube videos to see real-world reviews and how the car holds up against time and duty. T-BHP ownership reviews were scrutinised thoroughly as well, but eventually, I couldn’t agree to bring another Alto home.

October 2019

In came the S-Presso just around the festive season and while the styling was absurd, I was pleasantly surprised by all the positive reviews for this little car’s engine, power and performance. Yes, it was priced dearer than the Kwid, and I think Maruti could rightfully do so when it’s actually offering a superior product in terms of the fundamentals of the car.

I watched more videos and the S-Presso started making sense. A random picture once flew in on a close-friends’ WhatsApp group and it looked nice. I was all prepared to get a good set of fat rubber and wheels to make it palatable from the sides. But, this was all in the digital world so far.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_134826_resized-front.png

The story unfolds differently. One fine day, wife’s school had deputed her on a competition duty to another school, for which she travelled in the backseat of the new Wagon R. She comes home in the evening and is all gaga about the car, with the sheer amount of space the new one has to its credentials.

I had loathed the design so far and was always pointing it as the ‘Maruti Fortuner’ to her whenever we spotted one on the road. But, she had a point. We are five members in the family and all that space could be quite useful whenever all of us had to go out together. Moreover, with mom and dad already having pain in the joints, having a car to simply walk into, would be a boon and blessing.

I started watching a lot of videos of the Wagon R and started to appreciate its space on offer, but, personally, the front design was never to my liking. Moreover, lack of adjustable headrests front and back compared to the outgoing model, made me raise some concerns. But, we still decided to have a look at one and reached a showroom nearby. My maternal uncle had bought his Dzire from this very outlet seven years ago and I had fond memories of the delivery process.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_135108.jpg

I sit in the driver’s seat in the display car and find the fixed head restraints to be adequate for my height and seating position. The seats are set very high and the amount of space at the front is also quite generous. However, the enthusiast in me wouldn’t agree without a tachometer in the VXi 1.2MT that we were considering, even though it was a slight stretch from the initial budget.

A considerable number of Uber rides for work travel over the last three years had me observe some nitty-gritty’s that are important to me in a car. Good NVH, easy ingress and egress, and a good AC were my basic needs as a passenger. In the driver’s seat, a smooth engine, peppy performance and decent handling were my top asks.

I get into the back and the ingress is fantastic with that 90-degree door opening aperture. Parents would love it, I think to myself. Due to the unavailability of a TD car, we couldn’t see how well it drives, but, the showroom offered us a go in one of the Swifts which also has the K12 motor. I was pretty sure its behaviour in a Wagon R wasn’t supposed to be as thrilling as in a Swift, Dzire or the Baleno.

The showroom was courteous enough to take us out in a Swift ZXi+ AMT after dusk and I was reliving the joy of driving an automatic after the brilliant experience of the smooth four-speed Lancer Invex. That car was a legend.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_134211.jpg

Came back without the drive experience of the Wagon R, but did change our minds to also consider the Swift LXi, which would be on-par with the price of that of the VXi 1.2 MT in the Wagon R. Wife said, the Swift would suit our young personalities, and I couldn’t be more happy to get the dynamics of the Swift over a mass-market tallboy. Point to note – we did sit inside an S-Presso at the showroom and it looked cute yet practical. It would definitely be my pick for a ‘first-time’ car buyer in the entry-level segment, if someone doesn’t want to opt for the Ignis as it is much superior in all aspects.

November 2019

The next few days went in watching YouTube videos of the Swift and also seeing a lot of videos on aftermarket ways to get some equipment into the LXi variant, which came with all the basic safety kit as standard. In my mind, I was always left wanting for a tachometer, electronically adjustable ORVMs, a day-night IRVM, factory-fitted power windows, five-door central locking and black-painted wheels. All YouTube content is of accessory shops who claim they do a better job than the factory at half the price. But, with the budget, I had to contend myself somehow.

With the Swift, also came in the Grand i10 Nios and I walked into a nearby Hyundai showroom to check the car. While it is built heavier than the Swift, it was a downgrade to the outgoing Grand i10, which gives a proper European-car feel. However, I simply loved the interior with its design, space, layout and texture of materials. I asked for a test drive and while the car felt peppier than before, the ride quality was too bouncy and rough.

But, in the Era variant, the Nios offered front power windows, internally adjustable ORVMs and a tachometer. Now, this made sense to me. I could live with this car to an extent and given our budget, it fit the bill. The next few days went in watching videos on the Nios, especially its base variant.

Unlike the Swift, which is amply seen souped up in poor taste in the LXi trim on the roads of Delhi, the Nios wasn’t to be seen, nor were there many videos of people fitting aftermarket accessories in the car. One video which was there, also showed lack of compatibility with the existing central locking systems available in the market with the car at that time.

While these were not deal-breakers for me and we still had a couple of months to get the car, I stuck to the Nios as my top choice. Given the prevailing slowdown in the market, dealers were also ready to negotiate a deal on a fairly new launch. Similar thing was happening with the Swift only after a year-and-a-half into the market.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_134819_resized-suzuki-logo.png


So, while I was hell bent on the Nios now, wife was against a Hyundai as she didn’t see many, or for that matter, any car on the roads, two months into its launch. Moreover, my confidence in a Hyundai wasn’t at its pinnacle basis my hearsay about the problems arising after the third year of ownership including compressor and engine-related issues, and none of the Xcents and Grand i10s running as Ubers had a solid AC performance either, which kind of substantiated my thought process. Lower fuel efficiency and resale compared to the Swift were against the Nios as well.

Also, a lot of reviews putting the 1.2 in the Swift as an overall all-rounder did bring a different perspective to me. In the TD, I had only driven the Nios with the AC off because of the peak winters in Delhi and hence, could have found the engine to be peppy, I thought to myself. So, it was confusion written all over the place.

While my wife was relaxed as the purchase wasn’t happening immediately, it was a big distraction for me during work and otherwise. My free time and what could have been productive went into comparisons and research. I figured out that the enthusiast inside me needs to satiate his hunger and a base variant in this budget wasn’t making things suffice.

We discussed again and I tried convincing my wife to extend our budget by about a lakh rupee to Rs 650,000. The wonderful person that she is, she did consider my point and looked at the finances. The next day she obliged and said that we were running a bit too conservative while we could have taken a leap without much stress. She suggested a way out. So, while she would increase her portion of the down payment slightly, I would need to increase the remainder in the loan amount. I had a pre-approved loan of Rs 300,000 from ICICI Bank where I have my primary account from seven years.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200307_135135_2.jpg

Now, the Nios in the Magna trim was still the top choice for me as it also offered a Variable Standard Warranty, which is christened as ‘Wonder Warranty’ by Hyundai. It suited our needs perfectly as our running would be limited to a maximum of 500km each month, primarily over the weekends and the 5 year/40,000km version would save another Rs 10,000 in getting an extended warranty package as an add-on.

While the Nios was loaded in terms of features to meet everything that I was looking for, but still had compromises in the form of fixed headrests and lack of a rear wiper and defogger. Hyundai should re-work their feature strategy and bring these safety-related features down to the lower variants and not limit to the Asta.

In comes Ignis

So, amidst all the confusion, in comes another contender, the Maruti Suzuki Ignis. It has a 1.2 K-series motor, adjustable headrests all around, rear wash-and-wipe, defogger and 15-inch wheels. If only the looks could be handsome. Now, as I tried convincing myself about the Ignis, its quirky looks and a tacky interior, the Nios came to the mind each and every time.

God, it seems was listening as a resident two lanes away bought the first Nios in the new Aqua Teal shade in our locality and we bumped into the young gentleman on a night walk. As helpful as he could be, he took us for a spin in the car (a Sportz variant in petrol manual) and I wanted my wife, who hadn’t yet sat in one, see the space, build quality and features.

Thankfully, she looked convinced. So, the Nios Magna petrol would be our first new car together. While my mind came at peace and I could now concentrate on work, my wife had her apprehensions on the car as she simply couldn’t spot as many as the Swift or even the Ignis for that matter. I, on the other hand, started inquiring bank procedures and documentation required for the loan.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200219_104349_2.jpg

I would have maxed out my pre-approved amount in this case and it was a simple procedure. Another twist in the tale comes. I and wife talk about how it’s always better to stay within one’s limits and be a little cautious with the finances while safeguarding the future.

So, we went back to our initial budget, and now, the Ignis shone at the top as I was confident of negotiating a good deal, owing to the deep bloodbath in the automotive sector for consecutive three quarters and a not-so-good performing model in terms of sales for the company. To top it all off, the Ignis was still a BS IV unlike its siblings.

December 2019

We had to go to Gurgaon on a Sunday to drop my brother at his correspondence place, and stumbled upon a Nexa showroom – Pasco Automobiles Gurgaon - right next door. We went in with the intent of checking out the Ignis. The Relationship Manager, Mr Akhil Jain, was humble and well-informed. The TD was extensive with no restrictions to the driving route, or the number of kilometres. I admired Akhil’s way of selling us an apparently flop model with utmost conviction by listing out all the positive attributes of the Ignis.

Everything else apart, I simply loved the drive. It was fun, peppy and engaging. The engine note was sporty, and all the apprehensions I had in my mind about the NVH possibly being sub-standard were put at rest too. For my wife, however, the interior was a total letdown. It was too plasticky and not up-to-the mark in terms of fit-and-finish either.

As luck would have it, one of my colleagues was also in the same boat of buying a new car around the same time and after looking at the Wagon R and Swift, he had zeroed down on the Baleno Sigma. The Baleno was out of question for me till now as I thought it would be too low in terms of its seating position, and hence, the Nios fared better from this aspect in my mind.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_154331.jpg

We returned to the showroom and asked Akhil if we could drive the Baleno as well. He immediately obliged and this time, we didn’t take a TD as long as the Ignis because it was getting late, but, we drove the car nonetheless. My wife was really appreciative of the much safer feeling inside the cabin and the overall design and texture of materials used compared to the Ignis.

In a short drive, however, I couldn’t tell if it went as fast as the Ignis and felt that there was something missing. My wife, however, was sold by this time. We came back and I asked if we could see a Sigma if they had any. Yes, there was one car which had to be delivered and I quickly went to see the basics. Front adjustable headrests – check, front power windows – check, manual five-door central locking – check, day/night IRVM – check.

With the amount of kit on offer in the base variant being much more than the Swift and Nios both, we also narrowed down to the Baleno. Came home discussing the pros and cons of both the cars, and how the Ignis left us impressed in terms of its drive and dynamics.

So, while the Baleno would have been a perfect fit, I couldn’t again help but digest the fact that the Sigma was barebones and the Delta with all the necessary kit, was an absolute VFM buy. Moreover, without all those additional features, it didn’t look like we were going in for a B+ segment hatchback.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_163733.jpg

Now, I was confused between the Ignis Delta and Baleno. I explained my dilemma to my wife and how the Delta would be future-proof and fare to be a complete package. She approved of my request for once and for all, and now, the Baleno Delta it was.

But, it doesn’t end there, the short TD couldn’t have me entirely convinced about the car and I wanted to compare it with the Swift VXi MT once as I had only driven the Swift AMT till now. The next day we went to a Nexa showroom nearby and an Arena situated next to it to check the cars out. While we negotiated the price on the Baleno, we drove the Swift in its manual form this time around.

The TD of the Swift petrol manual brought everything in proper context for me. The steering has lost on feel and how. While it’s an engaging and easy car to drive, still the quality levels are much better inside the Baleno. So, for the same price, it makes much more sense to go for the Baleno with all the safety features including adjustable headrests front and back, than compromise with the lack of basics with the Swift, even in its mid-spec trim.

Now, the last question was if the Baleno’s seating was too low compared to the Swift and will it be suitable for our parents. Called dad to the showrooms and asked him to sit in both the cars back to back, and surprisingly, he too comes away impressed with the quality, space and features on the Baleno than the Swift. Honestly, I was disappointed with the new Swift in the end as it commands too much of a premium for that brand as to what it actually offers. In that price band, the Baleno is a no-brainer.

Vital life lesson learnt
: always listen to your wife!

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_214539_1_2.jpg

It’s been two days and I was now expecting a call from Akhil to come to a final price agreement. While he had offered me a cash discount of Rs 15,000 in the first meeting itself on top of the Rs 25,000 discount being offered by Maruti as part of its December scheme, I knew there could be more as the business environment wasn’t too conducive in the industry. While there were high chances of the discount continuing in January 2020 as well, we decided to get a 2019 model and register the car in 2020. We were now nearing the Christmas week and had to place the booking before the factory goes on a maintenance shutdown.

In my mind, I had a reasonable target of Rs 50,000 flat discount and there wasn’t much gap to close now. I requested Akhil to meet me in Delhi to discuss the deal and close it. While we agreed to a time in the afternoon, one of his scheduled vehicle deliveries got delayed and he couldn’t make it that day.

As a result, I went to another dealer in Delhi to negotiate, and encountered an unethical sales experience. The lady RM who had contacted me when I had inquired on one of the lead-generation websites, got her manager to talking to me at the table to close the deal. And, as polite and sweet as he tried to sound in front of me, he must be a rogue behind. The guy wanted me to take a loan from them so that he could save me some 0.xx percent in the rate-of-interest that would bring a substantial difference in the EMI amount. Precisely Rs 50 per month as my wife calculated and texted me while I was negotiating.

Secondly, mere Rs 10,000 discount on top of the company offer of Rs 25,000 for the month. On top of that, lies like the stocks getting depleted due to the December demand went well in doing hara-kiri in front of an informed customer. While we were coming to some agreement, Akhil called and apologised as he couldn’t make it that day.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_160512.jpg

The booking

As I was supposed to travel to Chennai for work the next morning, we went ahead to negotiate the final deal over phone. A final dealer discount of Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000 company offer for December was discussed and I closed the deal then and there.

My wife immediately transferred a booking amount of Rs 5,000 and we were assured to be given a booking receipt the next morning. As I land in Chennai, I have multiple missed calls from Akhil asking for some details and an OTP as he was trying to place the booking. I told him the new OTP and the booking was done on December 19, 2019.

From here on, majorly my coordination with Pasco Automobiles Gurgaon was over text and it was an absolutely smooth process. I immediately took the booking receipt and sent it across to a known senior executive in Maruti, who in turn asked the Regional Sales Manager to take care.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img20191219wa0013_booking-receipt.png

In the evening, I got a call from the GM of Pasco informing me that another Rs 5,000 had been waived off from my final quote, and that he would personally keep a close eye on my purchase. The final OTR including Maruti Insurance (ICICI) and Extended Warranty came up to Rs 680,000. I thanked the senior executive and went to meet Mr Rajeev (GM, Pasco) as I landed in Delhi two days later to thank him, and to discuss my preferences.

Firstly, I was very stern on a PDI at the stockyard and they obliged. Secondly, with the purchase being special as we had planned to take the delivery of our car on January 16, 2020, our first engagement anniversary, I requested them to keep the car at the stockyard for the remaining days. They needed the complete payment from my end to do so, and I obliged there. Last but not the least it had to be a DL registration.

Doing the PDI

They already had a Delta in Magma Grey colour in stock and there was no need of indenting another car. Within a few days, Pasco gave me a call to check the car at their stockyard before making the final payment.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125225.jpg

I scheduled a visit and dropped by at the showroom on my way to the office. Their outlet is right next to the Sikandarpur Metro station in Gurgaon, a prominent station as it’s an interchange point into Gurgaon’s Rapid Metro.

Akhil showed me the VIN number as I reached the showroom and a quick check on T-BHP’s VIN Decoder thread and the car is a BS VI, November 2019 make. He took me to the stockyard which is located on the Gurgaon-Faridabad road, some 10km from the showroom.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125013_2.jpg

So, that’s the first time I see the car. It was kept washed and I inspected it thoroughly, taking many pictures from all around. I even paired my phone and called up my wife to let her know about the proceedings and to also check the call quality.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_124122.jpg

The odometer at this point read 6km.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125613.jpg

We came back to the showroom and Akhil gave me a copy of the invoice, which was to be submitted to the bank and dropped me at my office around 7km from the outlet. Choosing a dealer in Gurgaon was in fact convenient for me as I could coordinate better due to my office being there as well.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125206.jpg

Now, as I approached my bank to process the pre-approved loan, I got a last-minute shock that there’s no pre-approval anymore and that I would need to submit my documents and let the bank do the verification process right from the start. While it wasn’t much of a concern, I suspect the loan agents in the bank to have tweaked the settings as now it wouldn’t show this to me even on my net-banking page.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_130403.jpg

Having said that, the process was largely seamless and I applied for just 25 percent of the invoice value as the loan amount with the remaining down payment being split among my wife, me and dad. Dad also chipped in to help us keep the loan amount minimal so that there’s no unnecessary wastage in interest over the next five years.

The loan also got processed quite seamlessly within two days with an inquiry-agent making a visit to my office and home and ICICI charging a loan processing fee of Rs 4,000. The bank disbursed the amount in Pasco’s name and messaged me the ‘Ladel’ number. Once this was done, I disbursed the balance from my end and got a confirmation against each IMPS transaction from Akhil.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_130649.jpg

We celebrated the New Year and went on a holiday to Udaipur with the new car wait now killing me! Come second week of January, Pasco did the insurance of the car (ICICI Lombard), and on January 15, generated a temporary registration number.

The D-Day

The next day was the D-Day and I had spoken with Akhil in advance and kept the delivery time to be 3:30pm.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_161210.jpg

I had only opted for the carpet mats (quite useless) and mud flaps to be installed in the car and they were already paid for in the final amount. A small request to get an anniversary cake and a bouquet was made to Akhil to which he happily obliged.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_175445.jpg

Next day, I went to the office and took a short leave to reach Pasco by 3:30pm. The car was ready and documentation in place. I just needed to do a few signatures here and there. Dad wanted to get the chrome boot lip installed and I got it done for some Rs 600-odd while waiting at the showroom. Due to the slowdown in the automotive industry, Pasco, however, was reconstructing its showroom as it had decided to give up a portion of it to manage fixed costs. The work was underway, but, it wasn’t much intrusive.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_161544.jpg

My wife and parents had to come from Delhi and they could only leave by 3’O clock as my wife couldn’t get a short leave from her school. I called up my brother who also works in Gurgaon and it was a family time for us and a nice way to celebrate our first anniversary. The delivery process was smooth with cake cutting, congratulatory wishes and a lot of pictures.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_175541_2.jpg

We were handed over a bouquet and I had taken tokens for Akhil and his team leader Deepak for their wonderful service. I tipped the car cleaner there and said thank you and goodbye to Akhil, Deepak and Rajeev san. The car was delivered at 18km on the odometer.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_162141.jpg

Yes, we’d finally bought what was in the pipeline for over three months and we had made the right choice! The Baleno is absolutely spacious and supremely comfortable as a five seater and the interior with the blue lighting looks very elegant to me.

First thing was a tank-full at the next IOCL pump and deflating the tyres to the right pressure. While it’s mentioned 29 in the placard on the door, I kept it at 30 and am maintaining the same so far.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_183103.jpg

We traversed through a gridlocked Gurgaon-Delhi highway and finally reached our locality and took the car straight to the temple. With God’s blessings, we bring our first brand-new car home, together.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200116_211442_2.jpg

Initial impressions

As I write this ownership log, the car has clocked almost 1,500km and it’s been a thrilling experience so far.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200318_183559.jpg


Contd...

Last edited by forester : 23rd March 2020 at 19:02.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 19:14   #2
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Default re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Engine and drive-ability

I am a lover of torque and had it not been the NGT or the newer emission norms forcing us to petrol, diesel would have been my first choice – a Ford 1.5 TDCI in the Freestyle in this case. So, from the onset, I had my eyes on the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder Suzuki K-series engine, which is punchy, refined and extremely fuel efficient.

The engine has ample power and while one might stall the car during the initial few days due to the sharp biting point of the clutch, the learning curve is not that steep.

It settles into a sweet murmur after start-up with hardly any vibrations felt inside the cabin, or noise outside due to the sufficient use of sound-deadening material under the bonnet. In fact, I’ve always appreciated Balenos passing by without their engines creating a ruckus. I think this would be a natural progression for me to an EV.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125322.jpg

The low-end torque is very good and one can easily drive in dense traffic conditions in the second gear as the gearing is quite tall. The torque delivery above 1,500 rpm is simply fantastic and being an enthusiast, I enjoy the engine pulling cleanly, building revs and gaining quick momentum. While I haven't really stretched its legs to its red line in the 6,000 rpm band till now, it's very revv-happy till the 3,500 rpm mark. And, the engine has been smooth from Day 1. The easily available power in the lower rpm range makes driving in city traffic at 50-60kph a breeze.

While I haven't ventured out on the highway properly yet, I did take the car on the Greater Noida Expressway where one can drive at 100kph, and the engine doesn't fail to impress with its abundance power and torque. Overtakes can be done in the fifth gear and build-up of speed after slowing down momentarily for cross traffic is fairly quick too. While cruising, the engine feels fairly relaxed, which means ample power on tap whenever required, and low engine noise inside the cabin.

The gear shifts are slick and the clutch action supremely light to the extent it feels effortless. The pedals are adequately spaced and the presence of a dead pedal is a boon to the overall ergonomics of the driver.

One can comfortably cruise both within city and on the highway without needing to shift gears quite often. In fact, not having to shift gears frequently prompted me to go for the official front armrest from the Nexa accessory pack. More on that in future posts. I also like the gear-shift indicator on the MID and love playing around with it!

Space, ride and handling

In terms of space, the car is lengthy, wide enough and spacious. There is good shoulder room at the front and three average-built passengers are not a squeeze at the rear either.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125057.jpg

While the presence of four adjustable headrests is a big plus from the aspect of safety, a fifth one for the middle rear passenger would have been welcome. The headroom is good as well and with the seats being not too low set and the door opening aperture being wide, ingress and egress are quite easy. Legroom is quite generous too, and in my driving position (5’8), the rear occupants can enjoy plentiful knee-room.

As regards ride quality, the Delta with its 185-section tyres and 15-inch wheels offers a very pliant ride. The long wheelbase also, to an extent, helps keep the shocks at bay from the occupants and I seldom slow down for a rough patch on Delhi’s roads. The suspension works silently and there is good sound dampening all around including in the wheel wells.

I am pleasantly surprised by the nature of the stock MRFs which don't create much noise, even when moving along a median, and can hardly be heard inside the cabin. Wind noise till 80kph is quite well contained too and overall NVH, with all the windows rolled up is impressive. Remember, good NVH was one of my choosing criteria from the beginning.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125144.jpg

The comfort-oriented suspension setup doesn’t really take a toll on the handling either. The car can corner with manageable body roll and offering decent control to the driver.

While the steering is nowhere close to being precise, it’s still well weighed. I love its light nature at low speeds which makes it quite a breeze to manoeuvre inside city and doesn’t end up tiring one at the end of a journey. Unlike the Swift, this one, however, returns to the center and U-turns with the short turning radius are fun. As the speed builds up, it does weigh up adequately, but being an EPS, one can feel the artificial feedback.

At 80kph, the car is stable, but the steering is not communicating what is exactly happening under the tyres, like in a Fiat, Lancer or the EcoSport for that matter. I think an upgrade to 195-section tyres should improve things a bit. But, it’s still not terribly bad and I wouldn’t shy away from taking the car on highways, just that, there is no rock steadiness as the cross-winds tend to hamper the car’s stability in a straight line too.

The ground clearance off the brochure is 170mm and I have had no issues with it so far. I had to once get off the main road in a semi-urban area near Gurgaon, and it handled the 5km rough patch with aplomb. However, an engine sump guard like in the Fiats would be useful for our uncanny roads.

Exterior and interior

When it comes to the design, I did love the Baleno when it was launched back in 2015, and I continue to do so. The subtle changes in the facelift have only made it better. I like the new LED projector headlamps on the Delta as well as the revised front grille and bumper, which make it look sharper.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125028.jpg

The only grouse is that I had high hopes from an LED setup but the illumination fails to impress me. For the initial few days, I was seen toggling between the low- and- high-beam every now and then. I reported this during the first service, and the only way out it seems was setting the headlight leveler to ‘zero’. I am still not convinced with the throw and intensity of the light and any resolution suggestions would be welcome.

The new Magma Grey colour in the facelift is slightly on the lighter side when compared to the original Grey, and I like this one now. It looks more of a shade of brown.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125042.jpg

The paint quality, however, is mediocre, as I have seen cars losing their sheen very quickly if not taken well care of. Even two-month-old Balenos can be seen with swirls and rough paint surfaces, exactly the reason why we chose against the new Maroon, which looks great, but would have been a pain to maintain. Also, a darker, near-solid colour would always heat up faster during summers.

On the inside, I like the new dark-blue interior theme. The seat fabric in black and blue along with blue inserts on door pads looks very elegant.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125009.jpg

The door-pad fabric inserts are a neat touch!

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125004.jpg

The front seats are well bolstered and I find them very comfortable for my average built and height.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125124.jpg

The other constraint here is that the seat belts are not of height-adjustable type in the Delta and my wife who is 5’2 feels them cutting across her neck as she keeps the co-passenger seat in quite a forward-set position to be able to access the infotainment system.

The blue ambient lighting on the speedometer console and the new feather-touch infotainment system give a calm vibe as the colour belongs in the cool zone of the temperature spectrum compared to amber, which would have also looked dated.

In-car entertainment

While the new system gives a very upmarket look to the interior, it doesn’t really fare that well when it comes to operation.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_130652.jpg

The unit is complex in its menus, and the absence of a rotary knob, at least for volume control, is a big miss. It becomes hugely inconvenient to lower or increase the volume while on the go, for the co-passenger. While the driver has the steering-mounted control switches, my wife gets irritated to operate the volume slider every time. I would have loved a volume knob as well, given it is much faster to operate than multiple presses of the buttons on the steering.

The response, to the feather touch, however, is very smooth and quick. Off the factory, the system would beep at every touch, but thankfully we were able to mute it from the settings. Another glitch that I have noticed is that the system reboots even if you turn off the engine and restart the car at a signal, when the key was still in ACC (accessory) position. There is a five-six second loss of audio, and it is a bigger irritant especially when you’re on a call over Bluetooth. Now, I think twice before turning the car off at a signal as I don’t want to miss out on that song or the ongoing call. Maruti, please rectify this with a software update.

The infotainment system does come with a remote control though! But, we've never used it till now.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125110.jpg

The sound quality with the four coaxial speakers is average, and while it improves with higher quality song files, it’s adequate for non-audiophiles with decent clarity and bass. I plan to upgrade the speakers with OE-tweeter pod garnishes for the A pillar from the higher variants.

The fold-able grab handles are good to use too and the presence of coat hooks at the back is a nifty touch, and is used by me quite often. What is also quite usable is the hook in the boot to hang shopping bags and I often use it to hang light grocery bags, so that they don’t wander around in the decently-sized boot. Airport runs with a couple of large-sized bags is an easy task in the Baleno, but, the loading lip of the boot is a bit too high. On the other hand, the glove compartment is very shallow and can't even store the leather document pouch given by Nexa itself.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_125104.jpg

Some smaller points - the dual map lights at the front and a dome light in the center of the cabin make it easy for everyone to have access to a light on the inside, while also offering sufficient illumination. Also, I love the auto-retractable and auto-unfolding ORVMs that have now made their way into the Delta. They've proved to be an absolute necessity for me.

Safety

Like most cars now, the Baleno also comes with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and BA as standard. While I am not against the light build and I am quite certain that it clears all the frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests mandatory for all cars to be sold in India, but there is a concern from day-to-day usage’s perspective. I can already spot a few dings here and there with no major reasons behind them. So, even if you happen to nudge the door very softly against another car in a parking lot, be prepared to see a ding.

I don’t doubt the car’s crash worthiness or the crumple zones or bumper doing their intended job on an impact. I also really like how the tail gate requires minimal effort to close, and coming from the Linea, it’s a day and night’s difference. On a day-to-day basis, I would prefer convenience over discomfort every time I access the boot.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20191227_130727.jpg

Coming to the braking, while it is decent, I feel it could be a little sharper as the initial brake bite is less and there is substantial nosedive under hard-braking due to the light weight. The seat-belt warning chimes and rear-parking sensors are things to thank the government and the industry for, for their continuous research and making improvements in products.

Closing remarks

To summarise, the Baleno is a very well-rounded package and would suit the needs of most family buyers, with enough to keep the enthusiasts entertained. I am just enjoying the engine, refinement, NVH and the fuel economy too!

As Delhi has seen its most chilling winters in a long time, the car has been giving upwards of 17kpl with 10 percent AC usage and an 80:20 city-highway mix, as I can tell from the MID. I have read that the AC is quite effective, but I’ll only be able to give an actual assessment when the summers hit Delhi.

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200318_183609.jpg

I have kept two different micro-fibre cloths for my car cleaner to use on the car and so far, I am trying my best to keep the swirls away. It’s been going strong; just itching to head out on the first proper highway trip!

Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift-img_20200215_134738_2.jpg

Next up would be some updates on the first service and things I have got done so far. Thanks for your patient reading.

ENDS

Last edited by forester : 23rd March 2020 at 19:31.
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Old 24th March 2020, 08:08   #3
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!

Congrats on the Baleno, buddy! Your car is going to our homepage today
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Old 24th March 2020, 09:19   #4
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Congratulations on your purchase! Having been an owner of one for the past 4.3 years and with around 60k kms on the odo, I can assure you that the ownership is going to be a very hassle free one.
Just steer clear of all the gimmicks that the workshop guys to add when you go for your services and you should be fine.

I agree that it is very easy to dent a Baleno which means that the driver has to be very cautious of the surroundings. But once you get a hang of it, should be fine.

Enjoy the ownership!
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Old 24th March 2020, 10:34   #5
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Congrats on the new acquisition mate! The Baleno Petrol is a solid all rounder and the Delta variant even more so. The combination of that K12 engine and features, make this car a very practical buy. Wish you a happy ownership!
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Old 24th March 2020, 10:34   #6
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

The Baleno is an adequate car for almost all needs. The wafer thin sheet metal has been a constant grouse raised by many, but to no avail. From a creature comfort hatchback perspective it actually ticks all the boxes; and being a MS hassle free ownership is expected.

BTW the pics in and around Lodhi Road are great...makes me feel nostalgic of my school days

Last edited by docprashant : 24th March 2020 at 10:35. Reason: grammar
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Old 24th March 2020, 11:08   #7
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Congratulations forester ! I'm also a new owner (2 months old) of Baleno and intend to write a long term review after few months. Your lovely write-up will surely help and guide me in penning down my own experiences. Thank you very much.

Enjoy the ride. It is indeed a lovely car.
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Old 24th March 2020, 11:26   #8
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Suzuki had knocked it out of the park with the Baleno, except when it comes to safety and quality. Nevertheless, the Baleno is a good buy in the segment, and the 1.2 K-Series petrol is still the best! Wishing you loads and loads of happy miles with your new ride!
Since your wife is a school teacher, this has given me nostalgia, as I just got over with my 12th boards. I hope your wife is not teaching any senior kids, because we are a lot to handle!
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Old 24th March 2020, 13:56   #9
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Congrats on the purchase!
I went to my car accessories guy in Jodhpur(Rajasthan) last month to get something for my Creta.
He had a freshly removed brand new head unit of Baleno Alpha in his stock as the owner of the Baleno got an Adroid head unit. The one with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. If you want i can check the availability for you and if need be, i could ship it to you. It'd be plug and play and would enhance the experience of the car to a great degree!
The best part is it's price. He quoted just 5k for it!
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Old 24th March 2020, 14:55   #10
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Thanks for a good review and Crisp pictures. Baleno reviews are rare.

Everyone agrees that Baleno can get dents easily, and i have had some in my almost 4 years of ownership, since i have Ray blue colour they are not easily visible so i dont care. I am really happy and satisfied by this product till now.

I have never driven a Delta Baleno ( Mine is Zeta ), so cant relate to how the handling and comfort is.
Dont rush to upgrade to 195/16 unless you actually get to drive a zeta/alpha.Compare and let us know.

I have had multiple people telling about light build and how unsafe most Maruti's are. I also like you tell them about Euro Ncap scores.
Baleno overall has been such a fuss free product, checkout our Baleno thread and you will rarely find any one complaining about niggles/issues there.

Maruti has handled this so called Premium product well - replaced my entire suspension @ 12k ( Initial batch had suspension issues ).
Baleno's prices overlap with Ignis, Dzire, Swift over various variants, but i feel Baleno is the most VFM buy in all of them.

Wishing you a happy married life and many happy miles with Baleno

Last edited by silverado : 24th March 2020 at 15:04.
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Old 24th March 2020, 15:01   #11
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Very well written Forester, enjoyed reading through it with some really good photo's to up the experience. For the thought that has gone behind your short listing and purchase, I'm sure you are all the more going to enjoy your new ride and here is wishing you Many Many Miles of safe and memorable ride
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Old 24th March 2020, 15:17   #12
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Quote:
Originally Posted by forester View Post
This is the story of our first brand-new car together as we, me and my wife, started our brand-new life and tied the knot in January 2019.
Congratulations on the Baleno @forester. Wish you & your family unlimited safe & happy miles with the spacious sedan. Loved your detailed & patiently written thread. Shows how much heart went into the car selection decision making & how much you love your cars. Keep this fantastic thread updated. If I were you - I'd surely pounce on the opportunity mentioned by @DeepakS below. At 5K - the stock smartPlay unit with android auto & apple car plan is a steal deal. Absolutely worth the money (and some!).

Additionally - I'd highly recommend doing a DIY swap of the IRVM to Maruti's genuine spares sourced auto-dimming IRVM from Baleno/Ciaz. Its a very simple DIY and lots of value addition to driving experience. Have a look at the DIY subforum & you'll find a suitable thread to match your car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepakS View Post
The best part is it's price. He quoted just 5k for it!
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Old 24th March 2020, 16:17   #13
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Crisp write up buddy.
Baleno is just an all-rounder and would take you miles. Your thread is itching me to go for a new car.

Happy & Safe Motoring.
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Old 24th March 2020, 17:36   #14
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Congrats on the Baleno, buddy! Your car is going to our homepage today
Thank you for the lovely gesture, GTO!

Quote:
Originally Posted by puneetakhouri View Post
Just steer clear of all the gimmicks that the workshop guys add when you go for your services and you should be fine.
Indeed, being stern is the key and I will be upfront about my preferences during services, apart from the regular work that needs to be done. Will keep updating the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AYP View Post
Congrats on the new acquisition mate! The Baleno Petrol is a solid all rounder and the Delta variant even more so. The combination of that K12 engine and features, make this car a very practical buy. Wish you a happy ownership!
Agree, thank you for your wishes, AYP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by docprashant View Post
BTW the pics in and around Lodhi Road are great...makes me feel nostalgic of my school days
Thank you, @docprashant. Are you an Air Force Bal Bharti alumnus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sachin V.W. View Post
Congratulations forester ! I'm also a new owner (2 months old) of Baleno and intend to write a long term review after few months. Enjoy the ride. It is indeed a lovely car.
Thank you, @Sachin. Many congratulations to you too! Yes, enjoy the car and do bring up that ownership log. Would love to read and share more!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BZ25 View Post
Wishing you loads and loads of happy miles with your new ride!
OT: Since your wife is a school teacher, this has given me nostalgia, as I just got over with my 12th boards. I hope your wife is not teaching any senior kids, because we are a lot to handle!
Thank you, @BZ25! Yes, my wife does teach Computer Science and IP to higher secondary classes. And, she knows how to nab naughty kids like you from their collar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepakS View Post
I went to my car accessories guy in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) last month to get something for my Creta. He had a freshly removed brand new head unit of Baleno Alpha. If you want, I can check the availability for you and if need be, I could ship it to you.
An upgrade is on my mind, @DeepakS. Thank you for letting me know about this and the sweet gesture. Let me ponder and connect over DM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverado View Post
Thanks for a good review and Crisp pictures. Baleno reviews are rare. I am really happy and satisfied by this product till now.

I have never driven a Delta Baleno (mine is Zeta), so can't relate to how the handling and comfort is. Don't rush to upgrade to 195/16 unless you actually get to drive a zeta/alpha. Compare and let us know.

I have had multiple people telling about light build and how unsafe most Maruti's are. I also like you tell them about Euro Ncap scores.

Baleno overall has been such a fuss-free product, checkout our Baleno thread and you will rarely find any one complaining about niggles/issues there.

Maruti has handled this so called Premium product well - replaced my entire suspension @ 12k ( Initial batch had suspension issues ).

Wishing you a happy married life and many happy miles with Baleno
Thank you for your wishes, @silverado! Good to know that the car is serving you well and the positive feedback on the company's service. For this very reason, I have opted for the extended warranty. I will definitely look up your ownership log and stay connected.

I have no immediate intentions of upgrading the tyres. I did experience the ride on the 16-inch rims in the TD car which was an Alpha. It was a little jittery in comparison. I believe a 195-section with 15-inches should offer more grip while keeping the ride plush.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gops2009 View Post
Very well written Forester, enjoyed reading through it with some really good photos to up the experience. I'm sure you are all the more going to enjoy your new ride and here is wishing you Many Many Miles of safe and memorable ride
Thank you, @gops2009 for your wishes! Yes, I am enjoying the car!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
Congratulations on the Baleno @forester. Wish you & your family unlimited safe & happy miles with the spacious sedan. Loved your detailed & patiently written thread. Shows how much heart went into the car selection decision making & how much you love your cars.

Keep this fantastic thread updated. If I were you - I'd surely pounce on the opportunity mentioned by @DeepakS

Additionally - I'd highly recommend doing a DIY swap of the IRVM to Maruti's genuine spares sourced auto-dimming IRVM from Baleno/Ciaz.
Thank you for your wishes, @Reinhard! Yes, I do love my cars!

Yes, that's a great suggestion by DeepakS. Let me put some thought into it. That updated touchscreen is quite slick. Sure, that's another great suggestion. Will take into consideration. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ash22 View Post
Crisp write up buddy.
Baleno is just an all-rounder and would take you miles. Your thread is itching me to go for a new car.
Thank you, @ash22! Yes, it ticks the right boxes for me. If you really have the need, do plan to go for one, otherwise, sticking to your existing car for the maximum amount of time is the best idea.
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Old 24th March 2020, 19:58   #15
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Default Re: Calling 911 - Our beloved Maruti Baleno Delta 1.2 MT Facelift

I really love the innate honesty of your post and your narrative. You are a natural storyteller, and it shines through in this post. Every car purchase is a balance between what your heart wants and what your wallet allows you. I am delighted you are at peace with your choice. I remember buying my first car 12 years ago. I started with the budget for an Alto and ended up with a silver Ritz since it provided excellent value for money. In all honesty, it had almost everything my new XUV 300 has because that's all I really needed.
I hope you enjoy your car and have some fantastic trips.
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