Living with the Best
Last month, we conducted our annual, mega track-test at the BIC to decide on which are the best cars and bikes of 2015. In this issue, you might have seen that the Maruti Suzuki Baleno was one of the winners of our ‘Best of 2015’ award – and so it’s with great excitement that we add a brand new Baleno to the AutoX garage. The Baleno really is a great car, and we’ve had high-praise for it every time we’ve gotten to drive it. But, now that we’ve got the car for a long period of time we can see if the Baleno really lives up to its initial promise.
So far, it’s been great to drive – and the local commute back and forth from home to office has been very enjoyable in the Baleno. The overall quality of the car is very good – not just the build quality, but the cabin is also very comfortable. It looks and feels good. The fit-and-finish of the dash, the ergonomics, and, of course, the awesome infotainment system with Apple CarPlay really makes your driving experience enjoyable.
The overall comfort for all passengers is also very good, and when I’m alone and stuck in traffic, I’m fairly relaxed thanks to the well-insulated cabin. There’s a lot of head-room as well, which is a good thing – and there’s also plenty of storage space in the boot. Overall, the car is very spacious and inviting on the inside. On the outside too, the car certainly attracts a lot of attention and turns a lot of heads!
We have the petrol variant with us, and it gets the 1,197cc engine with 84bhp and 114Nm of torque. The power rating is quite decent on paper, but after driving it for a couple of days now, it does seem to be a little underpowered in the mid-range – which is when its diesel equivalent would offer a nice little punch. The car we drove at the track for last month’s test was a diesel, and it certainly felt a lot punchier in the mid-range. With that said, the petrol motor is extremely free revving and smooth – so you don’t mind reaching for the redline if need be. But, apart from that, the overall driving experience of the petrol Baleno is extremely good because the ride quality and handling are brilliant. The suspension setup is perfect for Indian road conditions, and it can take on bumpy roads without tossing you around in the cabin. The brakes also work very well when needed.
As a total package, so far the Baleno has been very good to drive on a daily basis. It might not be very quick off the line, but it still drives remarkably well and is very comfortable. We’ve done only 160 kilometers this month, but we hope to cover more distance and give you some more feedback next time.