An Apple a Day
There’s a serious problem with the Baleno – it keeps getting nicked by the unlikeliest people!
For starters, I nicked it from Kapil, who was meant to be the rightful owner (albeit temporarily). Then it got whacked by a friend of mine who’s VW Passat was in the shop. He liked the car so much that he refused to give it back even when his Passat was returned to him a few days later (with a massive repair bill no doubt). Once I finally got the Baleno back, it got nicked again – this time by my dad. The odd-even scheme got him (and many others) thinking about what could be a politically correct, fairly efficient, compact car that could be used on a daily basis without sacrificing comfort, refinement and reliability.
Well, the Baleno ticks all the boxes – so-much-so that he wants to buy one. The trouble is he wants an automatic transmission, and the auto in the Baleno (which is a CVT) comes stripped of its leather steering wheel, HID & daytime running lights, alloy wheels, and, most importantly, touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay. And, at least for me, that’s a deal-breaker.
Fortunately, at the forthcoming Auto Expo, Maruti is expected to launch a couple more interesting versions of the Baleno. For starters, it’ll come with the highly anticipated, brand new, 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine – named the Boosterjet. Now, that’s a car that I’m really looking forward to driving – because, no matter how much I like caning the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated motor, I would certainly prefer more power. My only complaint with the Baleno, after all, is a slight lack in grunt.
In the process of cars shifting hands so often, we requested Maruti to send us the CVT as well for a couple of days so that we could try it – and, apart from the missing items mentioned above, I found the steering setup in the car to be different from all the manual gearbox Balenos I’ve driven so far. Now I can’t imagine why Maruti would engineer the EPS differently for the two transmissions, but I found the feedback from the steering in the automatic Baleno to be rubbery and strange when compared with the direct and clean feedback of our long-term car (and all the others we’ve tested). Perhaps it was that particular car for some reason!
That apart, I continue to genuinely love the Baleno for daily use. And I think I’m going to find it very hard to drive any car without CarPlay from now on…