Maruti’s big hatchback ticks all the right boxes for a good city car. But, how good is it to live with on a day-to-day basis?
Published on Mar 12, 2016 06:00:00 AM
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Good illumination from projector headlamps makes night driving stress-free.
In less than two months of its launch, the Baleno already boasts more than 40,000 bookings. It is easy to see why – the Baleno is arguably the best-looking hatchback Maruti has ever made, not to mention the most spacious, fastest and most feature-loaded. Luckily for us, sitting in our garage for long-term testing was a petrol manual variant.
I jumped at the opportunity to grab the Baleno’s keys. The very next day, I took it for a 330-odd-km trip. Now, taking a petrol car for long journeys usually has a very prominent downside – the additional spend. And if you have a heavy right foot, like I admittedly do, things can get a bit too dear. But the Baleno dismissed all these notions. Much to my amazement, despite sinfully indulging in some air-splitting acceleration, it returned a very green 13.92kpl. The 1.2-litre K-Series motor, apart from being surprisingly efficient, felt lively and willing, more so than the Swift’s. On the broken sections of NH17, en-route Kashid, the good ride kept me and my co-passenger comfortable. The 170mm ground clearance ensured that not on a single instance did we scrape the underbody – not even on large speedbreakers. I also found the car to be very stable at high speeds – a confidence booster, for sure.
The projector headlamps on the Baleno are one of the best in a budget car yet, and visibility was greatly enhanced at night. The LED daytime running lights were a nice touch too, turning many heads. The top-spec Alpha variant has Apple CarPlay. I couldn’t quite use it this time around, what with me being an Android user, but word on the street is that an Android Auto integration might be in the pipeline. I was quite impressed by the 7-inch display, which was crisp, clear and well-placed and made reversing and parking easy.
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