A big shout out to Atul Maheshwari for sharing this detailed ownership review of his Maruti Suzuki Baleno Zeta Diesel with us. You too can share your user review, travelogue etc. on Autosite India by submitting it here.
When I entered the new car market to look for a replacement of my Hyundai i10, it was clear that I wanted a premium hatchback. I am someone who doesn’t like the concept of sedans. Being a corporate employee, my cars are generally used for daily office commute, which means the extra trunk isn’t needed. I do like SUVs, but the hassles of using one in a crowded city like Delhi easily overcome my desires to bring it in the garage. As a result, the only segment I was looking for was the premium hatchbacks.
And finally I came down to the Maruti Baleno. I will talk about the entire story and the cause of my final decision a bit later. Firstly, let me list down a few plus and minus points about the car.
+ Looks fresh and contemporary. It still has a novel edge, though it will soon be a normal sight on our roads due to huge monthly sales figures
+ For a hatchback, the Baleno offers really good space inside the cabin. Both front and rear seats can accommodate 6-footers with ease
+ Revv happy, trusted, peppy and refined 1.2-litre engine. Offers satisfactory mileage as well
+ Nexa experience is surely a lot more premium that regular Maruti dealerships
– Hard suspension tuning. Though it is good for having fun in corners, it gets a bit unsettling in city speeds and on long straight highways
– The brilliantly designed projector headlamps and DRLs are available only on the top end Alpha variant. The lower trims can’t even opt for them as external accessories
– Rear visibility isn’t great, especially for average height drivers (I am 5’4″)
Why I bought the Maruti Baleno?
So as I mentioned earlier, I was looking for a replacement of my Hyundai i10 in the premium hatchback segment. I considered 4 models in this marketplace. Let me explain each of them in detail:
Hyundai Grand i10
I had my previous i10 for 8 years. And it has been a very pleasant journey with Hyundai. As a result, my first stop to find a replacement car was the Korean automaker. The Grand i10 is certainly a well packaged product. Good design, good quality interiors, well laden with features and satisfactory engine options. I was looking for a diesel as my monthly running is over 3,000 km. But since the Grand i10 has been in the market for a fairly long time, I was pretty sure that the car will soon get a facelift. And since I keep my cars for a longer period of time, it was wise enough to not buy a car that is about to end its lifespan. As a result, the Grand was dropped from my bucket list.
Hyundai Elite i20
The Elite is a good looking car, there is no doubt about it. However, it isn’t that good to drive. The i10 has always been a peppy car, and I am used to it. On the other hand, the Elite was a bit heavy on its feet. It just didn’t give the same throttle response that I was habitual of. This was a major downer for the and I decided to let go of the i20 as well.
I have no experience on a Honda vehicle, though have read various ownership review about it. From what I could gather from these user reviews, Honda has a very high reputation for its refinement. As a result, when I went to test drive the Jazz Diesel, I had the same preset belief in my mind. And boy oh boy, I was in for a shock. The 1.5-litre diesel can in no way be termed anything near to be refinement. The ignition itself sends numerous vibrations inside the cabin. Moreover, it just doesn’t feel insulated from the outside. This was a major factor in me disliking the Jazz. Though if not for the Baleno, I would have definitely bought the Jazz instead.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
The Baleno was launched just a year ago, and I had seen it on roads for a couple of times. It was a good design; matured, curvy, modern. However, I didn’t really like the front of the car that much. But anyways, it was a Maruti so I needed to go have a look at it. Moreover, since I haven’t owned a Maruti ever, it was mystery to me as why the company had so many fans for its reliability and customer service. I didn’t go with very high hopes from the Baleno, but it did impress me a lot. Frankly, the Baleno doesn’t have any major USPs, but it has been packaged brilliantly. It comes with a lively 1.3-litre DDiS engine that is fun to drive, a styling that will appeal to a lot of people and the reliable brand name of Maruti Suzuki. The interiors are nice to be in, there is every feature on offer that you would need for day to day chores and the price to value ratio is totally worth. In fact, the VFM proportions of the Baleno are the car’s only major selling factor. It offers a lot of car for your money. Moreover, since it is sold through the NEXA chain, the Baleno won’t become as common a sight on our roads as the Swift. These were the main reasons behind me choosing my first ever Maruti car.
Design – Exterior and Interior
The Baleno gets a contemporary design. It clearly has the family look of Maruti cars, with the headlights, A and B pillars taking inspiration from the Swift and the Dzire. The front gets a y-shaped grille, which is personally my least favorite part of the car’s looks. The top-end model gets projectors and DRLs, while the lower trims like my Zeta get basic halogen units. The side profile is really funky, giving the car a bulky look. The roof slopes down smoothly to end in an integrated rear spoiler. The tail lights are the most beautiful part of the car. The alloy wheels coming with the Baleno don’t really appeal to me. They look more like wheel caps. Maruti could surely have enhanced the car’s stance by providing a better set of alloys.
Moving to the inside, my favourite thing about the car’s cabin is that it gets an all black layout. While most Indian consider beige to be a luxury, I find an all black cabin to be more attractive and sporty. The quality is nice for the most part, though there are a few poorly integrated pieces, like the power window buttons and the silver highlight around the automatic climate control. The Baleno is a spacious car, more spacious than the Elite i20. The boot space is also healthy enough, and there is even the 40:60 split available.
Ownership Experience & Review
I really like the Baleno. It is spacious enough to take for weekend trips, while compact enough to maneuver around tight Delhi roads. Moreover, it is fairly economical as well. In bumper to bumper cty traffic, I easily get a mileage of 15 km/l. Highway trips extract anything around 20 km/l. Everything else about the car is great, except a few points.
The door are light! And when I mean light, I actually mean it. The front passenger door feels a bit loose from the entire car’s frame when you operate it. There is no reassuring sound when you shut the door. Instead, it just clanks itself to place. My car hasn’t yet got any rattling sound, though I think I will get it in the near future.
Then there is the suspension. It is a bit hard to my liking. While those who like to corner fast will love it since it doesn’t result in any major body roll, but the car’s daily running gets affected due to this setup. The rear gets bouncy, especially when you drive over potholes at relatively higher speeds with no one in the back.
These two are my major concerns with the car. Everything else with my Baleno Zeta Diesel is absolutely lovable.
I have taken the car for two services. The first one was absolutely free as it was basic check up. The second service saw a minor bill of 176 rupees. It remains to be seen how much it costs to service the Baleno once the first three free services are lapsed. There have been no issues with the car yet, and I hope it continues to be the same in the future as well.