Before I start my review let me tell you that Baleno is a revelation in the Indian auto industry. It has got impeccable styling, marvellous looks, very smooth ride and handling.
Design - Exterior - The liquid-like design flows from bumper to bumper and looks so classy. The lower part of the bumper has some wonderful cuttings and edges that just adds to the charisma of the car. The front chrome grill is very eye catching and the black curly plastic just above it holds your attention. The best view to see Baleno is from sideways, full marks to the makers to make it look so appealing from the side on. The slanting line from front to back window from the side is designed very well. The rear tail lamp, however, is very average and could have been better. Having said that the design from the rear is also very attractive and gives you a wow feeling when you have its first sight. The long door handles are very well crafted and good looking too. The rear spoiler is a masterstroke and looks a class apart. The wheel covers are nice and match the overall design of the car. However, Maruti could have done better when it comes to the front of the car. It is still good but still there was a scope for improvement. I have a special mention of the premium silver colour that I have bought and it just looks completely fabulous. It's not the same old orthodox silver colour but very different and looks amazing. I might be over generous here but silver of Baleno is comparable to other silvers of Audis and the BMW's. Interior - The interior of the car is as magnificent as the exterior. Forget about the boring baize colour dashboard and interiors, it has the full black design which looks quite elegant. The plastic used is very good quality and the very thin chrome garnish on the borders looks extraordinary. The CD player is very good and matches to the interior dashboard. The AC vents and its electronic display, speedometer and digital gauge are simply outstanding and give a feel of sitting in the premium car. The steering is beautiful and minimalist use of chrome on it is just brilliant. The design on the doors in the interior is very nice, thumbs up for the all black interiors with amazing chrome garnish.
Performance and mileage - The petrol engine is very refined, smooth to drive and turbo lag is very less. The gear shifting is very smooth and easy and can be shifted just by using the two fingers. However, the reverse gear shifting is not so placid and takes some time to get used to it. The ride and handling of the car is excellent and gives you a feel that you are driving on water provided roads are good to drive. It takes about 12-15 seconds to get to 100kmph which I think is pretty good considering it is 1.2-litre engine. The car can be easily manoeuvred in the city as it has a very good clutch which is easy to hold and release and the best part is that it picks up very well even from the third gear with the AC running. It is a pleasure to drive in the city. I haven't tried it driving on the highway yet. If we talk about the mileage that is an important factor for every Indian today with the continuous increase in the fuel prices, the Baleno will bring a smile to your faces economy wise. Being a petrol car, it is currently giving me the mileage of 15 with AC and I am sure it would increase after the first service and the more I drive it. The car is lighter than its rivals which make it front runner when it comes to driving the car and also raises its flag high on the economy factor.
Comfort and space - I think before manufacturing Baleno, Maruti did their homework pretty well and designed a car which must be awarded full marks considering the comfort and space parameter. Kudos to Maruti to generate excellent space both for the front and rear passengers out of a wheelbase of 2520mm which is quite remarkable. I am 6"2 feet tall and still I have enough knee room with the front seat when I sit on the rear seat. The under thigh support is great, headroom is pretty decent. However, for tall guys over 6 feet, the thigh support is not as adequate but that is the most common problem in all hatchbacks. But still, its a job very good done, the seats are very comfortable with soft cushioning and the headrests are also very good. Everyone who has had a ride in my car and sat on the rear seat has been praising about the space and comfort of the car. Well done to the makers in this department. Safety - The most important factor when you buy a car and Baleno is certainly got the parameters covered. The design is crafted as such that it is safe to drive it at high speeds. The front airbags for both driver and passenger, ABS with EBD is standard across all variants which is praiseworthy. It would have been great if the rear camera and rear seat belts could have been offered in the delta version. On safety point of view, it is average but this is what you expect on the lower variants and at this price.
Verdict - With no doubts, this car is a game changer in the Indian market. At this price, with premium features it has in the bag and is a delight to drive.
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