Say hello to the latest member of our long-term fleet, the all-new Maruti Suzuki Baleno. When I drove it first during the media drive in Goa a couple of months ago, I remember coming back impressed with all the changes and updates that this model has received over its predecessor. Back then, I drove the car briefly though. But now that it’s going to be with us for a couple of months, we’ll find out if it’s actually as good as it felt during the first drive, or if what happened in Goa was nothing but a short holiday romance.
We’ve got the AMT version of the Baleno, and while it’s nowhere near as great as the manual version, it’s actually a pretty decent option from the driver’s convenience point of view. Shifts aren’t excessively jerky, and if driven leisurely, it does the job of an automatic car well. However, if you drive it enthusiastically, you’ll find it to be a bit of a downer. The shifts are slow, even in manual mode, and it takes more than a second before the gearbox picks the next cog. In normal driving, it changes gears a little too early, around 3,000 to 3,500rpm, which kind of bogs the car down. It reminds me of the term ‘granny shifting’. However, as I said, the gearbox is okay if you want to drive calmly. I’d, however, always prefer its manual gearbox over the AMT because it is an absolute peach.
There are no complaints about its 1.2-litre petrol motor though. It is virtually flawless. It’s super-refined, peppy, and rev-happy. Plus, it returns phenomenal fuel efficiency. In daily driving, it’s returning close to 18km/l! If not the AMT gearbox, at least these numbers keep me grinning while driving our long-term car.
My absolute favourite bit about the new Baleno is its ride quality. It’s simply stellar. There’s an underlying firmness when it goes over bad roads, but you don’t feel anything inside. The way it absorbs road imperfections is remarkable. It’s so comfortable that sometimes I purposely drive it over bad roads to have fun. Similarly, I also like the steering on the new Baleno. It’s got more heft than before and offers good feedback.
In the next report, I’ll discuss the Baleno’s new features and how they work on a day-to-day basis. So, stay tuned...
When it came: June 2022
Current odo reading: 1,596ms
Mileage this month: 735kms
Fuel efficiency: 18km/l
What’s good: Peppy engine, ride quality
What’s not: AMT is slow