Parting with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class wasn't easy, it was my longterm car for almost six months after all. It's been some time now since the car left but I finally have a new partner, the all-new Baleno. The new premium hatchback king looks great and I'm glad our car is finished in blue! There are quite a few Balenos already on the road and it truly is an attention magnet. The Baleno is going to be with us for quite some time. But we didn't wait to head out on a 1,000+km drive as soon as the car entered the OD garage.
The Baleno's diesel engine may be similar to the Swift but the car immediately feels a lot more eager on the move. The cabin is better insulated too so engine clatter isn't as audible. The drive from Mumbai to Goa and back was effortless. Ride quality and high-speed dynamics are impressive thanks to a suspension setting that offers a good balance. The Baleno is the largest car in its segment but actually weighs less than a tonne. To our surprise, the car is quite planted on the highway despite the low kerb weight and actually makes for a great tourer.
The car feels premium from the inside too. I like the all-black interior and silver contrast highlights. There is ample room for four passengers and luggage. Lijo, who is six feet and seven inches tall found the rear seat quite roomy and comfortable even after the nine-hour drive. Rear shoulder room is impressive too. The front seats are quite large but lumbar support could have been better, the side support is too soft and the padding is already giving way.
Music while driving is very important to me. The Apple CarPlay feature makes the experience better. My music from the iPhone is just a USB connection away. Apple music features like podcasts and live radio can also be streamed directly. Phone calls can also be made and answered without having to connect via Bluetooth, very handy indeed. The touchscreen display offers a high-resolution, so features like reverse camera output and navigation are quite clear.
I only wish the car offered better top end performance and featured better-looking wheels. I think there is a fix - you'll read about it very soon.