Popularly known as 'SRK', Indian Autos Blog's in-house artist, Shoeb R Kalania, shares his ownership review of the Maruti Baleno. Its been exactly two months since Shoeb started driving his Baleno petrol. Following are his impressions -
I got my Maruti Baleno Alpha 1.2 in Pearl Arctic White shade delivered on the 5th of February 2016. The decision was made after a lot of research and with help from my friends at Indian Autos Blog.
As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. To me the Baleno is one of the best designs from Suzuki designers in recent times. It would have been great if Maruti could have given us better designed alloys or at least the ones available on the European-spec one.
The interior is quite spacious and it was one of the reasons I decided to get the Baleno. I would say it is average as compared to my first choice the Hyundai Elite i20, which wins hands down in terms of fit and finish. Maruti has used many parts from their existing cars, which is good in terms of keeping the cost low but the quality of the material should have been improved, given that they call it a premium offering, quite a few panels flex when applied pressure.
I have the Alpha variant which gets a nice-looking MID screen that has loads of settings and information displayed but the stalks to control them feel very flimsy. The car also comes with Suzuki’s SmartPlay infotainment system which along with playing media files from various sources also gets navigation functionality from HERE Maps. I actually prefer using Google Maps over this.
The screen also acts as a reverse camera monitor, which I think is a must have feature on the Baleno for parking in tight spaces. My car also has HID projector lamps and DRLs, which along with being functional also enhance the looks. This variant also gets a different set of taillamps as compared to other models.
I haven’t been able to spend much time driving my car but from whatever little experience I have had it has been pleasurable. Handling is good enough but I do feel the ride is a bit bouncy and this is something Maruti has to look into immediately. The petrol motor which powers my car is refined and is silent most of the times. You do hear it once it crosses 3,000 RPM mark. It is fun to drive in the city and can also perform highway duty with ease. I also felt that the Baleno had a better steering feel as compared to the Elite i20 that I drove.
As for the NEXA experience, I would say it doesn’t have much to talk about. Most of the promises of the so-called “Premium Experience” have not been met. Even servicing happens at the regular Maruti stations and hence the feel of owning something premium is not there. Though I would like to say that Maruti does listen to customers and has been able to solve any problems that arise, and this is the reason it tops customer satisfaction charts.