The Baleno is one of the most popular cars in our office, and while I have just started spending time with it, I've been enjoying every minute. As ironic as it sounds for someone of my profession to be saying this, daily driving has become a turn-off, thanks to the horrendous traffic in Mumbai. I try to stay on two wheels as much as possible, but numerous shoots in the past few weeks have forced me into a car. Still, I'm really thankful for the fact that of all cars, I'm driving the Baleno. This Maruti is supremely comfortable and easy to drive in Mumbai's unending traffic snarls, and the cabin does a great job of isolating outside noise, including clatter from the Multijet engine.
Come to think of it, there's almost nothing I dislike about this car. I'm writing this just after a 500km drive home to Belagavi for a weekend escape. The Baleno was fantastic on the highway, retaining the smooth and comfy feel with just enough power and great high-speed composure. Despite nasty weekend traffic for most of the way, I quite enjoyed the drive. Much of the joy came from watching the fuel needle drop to just below the halfway mark after covering 450km from the pump. The digital fuel efficiency read-out was hovering at about 13kmpl in the city, but after my highway drive it's currently at 17.4kmpl and continues to rise. This despite fairly brisk driving; back it off and this car will be supremely efficient, no doubt thanks to the low 1-tonne kerb weight.
Another interesting thing I noticed on the highway is that the rear windscreen stays splatter free for quite a long time when driving in the rain. I assume the big extruding chrome spoiler creates a pseudo-notchback effect that prevents the car from flinging dirty water on itself like most hatchbacks do. The sharply raked rear windscreen angle probably helps as well. The upside is that you don't have to keep wiping the rear windscreen every few minutes. That said, the stylish rear windscreen is quite small, and I suspect this could be a tedious on lower models that aren't equipped with the reverse camera.
The Baleno has crossed the 19,000km mark now, and despite having changed the brake pads recently the pedal and steering wheel start to judder under hard braking at high speeds. I also accidentally scraped the front bumper on a steep incline and tore out a bit of the protective underbody plastic cladding. It's quite minor but will require replacing. Finally, I think the temperature control on the climate control system needs to be checked -- the vents send out cold air even when set to the 26C. I'm sending the Baleno to the workshop after I'm back in Mumbai to get these things looked at. Hopefully, the fixes will be simple and affordable.
Date acquired: Nov 2015
Total mileage: 19,461km
Last report at: 15,971km
Fuel: 206 litres