So I did a test drive of the Baleno CVT (Delta) trim the other day, just on a bit of a whim, since I had some time to spare. My dad had remarked that the Baleno looks good in terms of interior space when it was displayed at a Mall in Pune, so I thought, it is a good chance to really feel the car a bit. So here i was at the Nexa Baner showroom, which was, as usual buzzing about with grey clad salesmen and eager families with kids.
I was made to wait for few minutes while the SA was dealing with other people, meanwhile I checked out the car.
Note:-My comparison is largely with the Micra CVT which I own currently. Both cars have a 1.2 litre petrol engine, although Baleno is slightly higher on power/torque (83 vs 77 bhp, 115nm vs 104). Micra is a 3-pot motor. Walk Around Impressions Positives
- Exterior- good, if not great, design, like the headlamp style on the top-end models.
Interior- good driver's seat, bolstering in the right places, plenty of leg room at the rear after adjusting for my height, which for reference, IS 5ft 10in
Very good boot space, inspite of the higher loading point. Negatives-
*you do feel a bit hemmed in because of the black interior, even compared to the Micra. Also, the door panels flex and the plastic-quality doesnt feel durable enough.
*I also observed a number of weld spots around the boot area which were not well finished.
* Lastly, no engine underbody protection for petrol variants.
* Ingress-egress could be a challenge for the elderly
* Rear seat squab is not good enough.
Test Drive Car Condition:
I was provided a Delta CVT version that was poorly maintained or perhaps recently damaged, because the driver side door creaked and groaned like a Jurassic Park dinosaur! A major negative for the so-called Nexa premium experience!
Next, I asked the SA about the Zeta CVT, he told me flatly, there is NO Zeta CVT offered by Maruti!- I asked him to call up right there and confirm. He did so, and then apologized, with the typical excuse- "I have just recently joined". A Major negative for the Nexa Premium experience again!
Before starting off, I was adjusting the ORVMs and realized that the rearview mirror was missing! Upon enquiry, he remarked that the car had been damaged in an accident, so they had not yet installed the rearview mirror, and then another standard excuse- "today is a Sunday" so maintenance cannot be done.
I was fuming by now, and could have chosen to walk away right there, and perhaps haul up the head of that dealership, but then I did want to get a feel of the car, albeit in a slightly degraded safety condition. The Drive-
I felt the Baleno CVT responded in a pretty similar manner to my Micra CVT, except that the acceleration felt a bit more linear during the light pedal inputs. The application of the "sport" mode yielded pretty much similar results, more noise than action initially, and then a burst of acceleration.Again, it felt a bit more linear. On the negative side, the engine was noisier than the Micra, and in general, the sound insulation of the cabin was poor.
The steering was quick and the car was agile to respond, which was expected of the platform, perhaps a tad better than the Micra. The road undulations also seemed to be filtered through better, again attributed to the longer wheelbase of the Baleno vis-a-vis the Micra. Overall reaction:
- As I expected, the car performed par-for the course, nothing overtly exciting, and exactly like a typical Maruti Suzuki product. And in the same vein, it seems to have its share of negatives as mentioned above.
Lastly, the shabby quality of dealership experience continues- poorly maintained car, ignorant salesmen
wooing regular customers with afforable prices and touting huge waiting lists as if it were a privilege to own a car! No amounts of "tea, coffee, water and grey suits" is going to change this.
14 years and 6 cars in India- I am fed up of complaining about this now, frankly.