My Red Apple - Maruti Baleno
Blame it on a few irresistible features that this car had to offer, I chose to book the Honda City in March 2006. From then, till Feb 2016, it has been a truly remarkable journey with my companion spanning across multiple destinations for which she has taken all abuses while passing over some of the most non-motorable stretches and even surprising me with her spendid performance over the highways. After driving for 143000 KMS 9 years I would certainly beg to differ over the misunderstood aspect that this is only a City Car. Most of my ODO clocking has happened on the Highways with full load and I would be a fool to venture out with her if she was unstable, nervous or anything else that many would say. I have usually driven with speeds between 90-120kmph and I do agree that this car has to be driven the way it is supposed to. One must realise that this is a sedan when it comes to cornering abilities, though most of the instances I have maneuvered sharp corners between 70-90kmph safely! Till date, with about 70% AC usage, I have manage a FE of 14-15Kmpl depending on traffic and stop lights in city traffic. With similar usage of AC, I achieve 18-19kmpl on highways with speeds between 90-120kmph (4 passengers in all). Now with heavy traffic in the city, driving a sedan is challenge, both for the shortage of roads and the length of the vehicle is stop start traffic. I was looking for a hatchback, and had almost finalized the i20. Now to add a twist, Baleno was launched in India. With Maruti, I have owned other cars earlier, so without hestitation, visited the Nexa Dealership. While service was pathetic, I managed to get a booking coupon and a assurance to get the car delivered once launched in 2 months time. Standard Maruti procedure. When the car reached the showroom, I was surprised, to get a call from the Nexa Dealership, asking me to visit and check in person. The Baleno follows Maruti's "Liquid Flow" design language. Its body is curvy all over with no sharp edges. I found it rather conservative & feel that the Baleno lacks the flair of the Elite i20. Still, it does look contemporary and many will like the styling. Thanks to its dimensions, the Baleno has got good presence too. The front end looks like an evolution of the Swift's. It has large sweptback HID projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights. In the middle is a V-shaped honeycomb mesh grille with a chrome strip running along its lower edge. This strip appears to extend into the headlamps, running towards the side of the car. Since the grille is V-shaped, there are blank areas on either side. A larger grille could make it more interesting, but admittedly more Swift-like. The simple bumper houses a large black air dam with round foglamps. Maruti has done a brilliant job in masking the small dimensions with aggressive elements, bringing a butch look that belies the actual size of the vehicle. After the wait,finally got the car delivered on July 2016. Full 4 months after booking. This has been my observation over the past drivings The overall package is impressive. The cost, the extra gizmos and the most important thing vehicle engine itself. The looks, exterior, interior can easily impress anyone. It sure is a head turner. I was initially not so sure about the chrome overdone on face. But over the past three weeks, It did not bother me much. The small things in its interior such as coin holder, chiller, upholstery are nice little finishing touches. The paint on the exterior as well as plastic finish is good compared to my old car. I do not have anyone to wash the car but take it to service station myself once a week or two. There is always some amount of dust where I park my car and even with that dust, it doesn't look bad. The point I'm making is - the vibrant red colour isn't too hard to maintain. The overall build quality seems very good. The soft thud of doors closing is pleasant experience. The weight of the car probably makes all the difference too in terms of overall stability and sturdiness. There is no major rattling sound. But if you closely observe, row assembly on really bad road keeps making some sound. The tyres are wide and reasonable. The NVH levels are acceptable. The tyres on my Baleno were initially not perceived as very good ones but last 200Kms of driving, this opinion has changed. I have driven on the highway as well as city roads so far and I don't see much of an issue. I get 15kmpl in traffic and 21 kmpl on highways. I use a tank to tank method which is still old school, but very accurate to determine the mileage of the car. The ODO mileage, somehow I feel is not correct. It shows 23 on the ODO, when I did a Bangalore - Hyderabad and back, with speeds of 90-120, which I think is too much at that speed. Let me know, if you have any questions about the car performance, I will try to provide my response soon.
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