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    Thread: Suzuki Baleno Ownership Report - Stock to India's fastest NA Baleno to restoration WIP...

    1. #1
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      Suzuki Baleno Ownership Report - Stock to India's fastest NA Baleno to restoration WIP...

      Dated back to 2005.

      Dad decides to cancel the ZX-6R booking I had made with Joe because some astrologer told him that I would die if I rode bikes. He immediately drives to RNS Motors and books a Suzuki Baleno.

      When I return from college, the conversation goes like this:

      Dad: No SBK for you, too dangerous!
      Me: Its ok, I want a big bike.
      Dad: I will get you a car instead, safer.
      Me: No I want the 6R and its too late now, we have already paid a huge advance and delivery is today,
      Dad: Your life is more important, its ok if I lose the money.
      Me: I am going on a hunger strike if I don't get my bike


      After a few hours of mom and grandmom knocking some sense....

      Me: What car?
      Dad: I booked a Baleno at RNS. Remember you telling me that you liked the car a lot when one of them overtook our Indica while going to Hubli.
      Me: Baleno? NO WAY! Slow car. I want a Zen. And I am going to put Esteem Engine and mod it.
      Dad: Anything other than bike!


      So I go to RNS the same evening and cancel the Baleno booking and buy a Zen. Little did I know.....

      8 months later, just when I had figured out what the G16B was really capable of and had hunted down an engine from a crashed Baleno and a supercharger for it so that we can plonk it into the Zen, a friend totalled the car at KR Puram flyover on Jan 14th 2006.











      You can read more about what happened here..
      Mclaren1885's zen totalled on 14Jan2006, insurance company settles on 30JUN2006 !!!! - Team-BHP

      With the Zen gone and me needing a new car, the options were:

      1. Zen with Honda CRX engine + turbo running at 20 psi for 4L. Friend had built this car. Insane power, would do a standing burnout in 2nd gear. Only problem with the car was that drive shafts would pop out if launched in 1st gear. And after the Zen crash, I did not want to end up with another Zen.

      2. OHC Vtec - Very few well maintained vehicles were available but were ridiculously priced. Lifeless steering, crappy suspension, horrendous seats, no steering adjustment made me think twice before paying 5.5L for an excellent maintained vehicle. Only thing I loved about the car was the engine and the way the OHC looks. Gave OHC Vtec a skip.

      3. Esteem - Was too dated and didn't want to buy an esteem even though it handles beautifully and had an awesome engine, the legendary G13B.

      4. Baleno Altura - Somehow, I loved the Altura more than the Baleno sedan. Looked around the used car market but none were maintained well. With a heavy heart dropped the plans of owning a Altura.

      5. Baleno Sedan - Thanks to v1p3r I had fallen in love with the Baleno. Looked for used examples but fake odometer readings put dad and me off completely. So decided to get a brand new one instead.

      Funny, how dad originally booked a Baleno and I ended up with one in the end.

      PS - This ownership report will include my journey with the Baleno so far. And what an eventful journey it has been....

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      The booking....

      What I needed from a car:

      1. Powerful engine that loves to be revved to redline.
      2. Good handling traits even in stock form.
      3. Good aftermarket support for engine mods.
      4. Height adjustable steering.
      5. Good front seats.
      6. Dead pedal.
      7. Hydraulic Power Steering - Hate EPS.

      I was not a great fan of exterior looks and the Baleno fitted the bill to the T..

      Dated: 28th Feb 2006 - 45 days after the Zen accident.

      Was a day of mixed feelings. Wasn't really sure if I was supposed to be happy for booking a new car or feel sad that I would no longer be driving the Zen, my 1st car, my 1st love.

      Reached RNS.Motors, enquired about the cost of the new LXi and the discounts being offered. The best price i got was 6.8L OTR with a 50k discount. Found it good enough a deal and decided to go in for the new one only. As there was an expected cut in the prices owing to the budget had to wait till 2nd March 2006 to close the deal.

      The final offer that I got was as follows :

      The OTR price was 6.8L as of 28th feb 2006.

      Discounts that I got were :

      1. 22k discount as in free insurance.
      2. 25k gift cheque for accessories etc.
      3. 9k slash with the new prices coming to effect today.
      4. 15k corporate discount.
      5. Negotiated for fog lamps - (Sagar had offered free fog lamps along with body coloured paint for the door handles , mirrors etc). However I was still looking to see if RNS will give me the same deal or better it. First choice was RNS because I was one of their valued customers. I could vouch for them with my eyes closed.
      6. 4k discount as Ii did not want extended warranty.

      Total discount = INR 75k without the fog lamps .. With the fog lamps it was around 88.5k. I think its quite a good deal.

      Car colour chosen was Pearl Silver. My 1st choice was Silky Silver but as I couldnt wait for another 6 days for the delivery of the silky silver. So decided to go in for the pearl silver itself. Car was bought on a loan from ICICI. DP made was 1.25L, loan was taken for a period of 5yrs at 8% reducing at 85% funding. That gives me a good budget to work on my car for speedrun 2006 hopefully.

      Accessories : As usual the basic accessories like mud flaps , foot mat , idol etc were given by the company itself. Apart from this I had placed an order for the MGA spoiler at 8k. Dad wanted to know if it was possible to get the seat height adjuster from the VXi onto the LXi version. If not, we planned to buy the VXi seats and put them in our car. This would help dad and mom if and when they drive the car as they are not that tall.

      Why LXi and not VXi friends asked. What was extra on VXi.

      1. Crappy ICE - I still had the ICE from my Zen lying around.
      2. Rear de-fogger - Not much use in a city like Bangalore.
      3. Rear motorized antenna - Looks ugly as hell.
      4. Rear spoiler - Had planned to order one for the LXi anyway.
      5. Height adjustable seats - Was hoping to put them on the LXi.
      6. 14'' alloys and 185 rubber - I wanted to upgrade to 15" alloys with good rubber so didn't make sense.

      The VXi IIRC was around 1.4L pricier than the LXi. Hence decided to go for the LXi as most of the features on the VXi really didn't appeal to me.

      Oh RNS waived off the parking and towing charges for the Zen. So that took the discount upto 94k. It had turned out into a sweet deal.

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      The Run-In and 1st service in TWO days flat.

      Dated: March 2nd 2006, car booked. My first preference for the colour was blue, followed by black, followed by silky silver. As RNS did not have any of the colours in stock other than pearl silver, I decided to make do with pearl silver.

      Did an initial PDI and gave thumbs up to the car. All the documentation etc were processed.

      It was a Thursday, supposedly a good day. So I took the delivery of the car with temporary registration after signing all the delivery papers etc. Took it to our local Ganesha and Hanuman temples and did the customary pooja. Went back in time to get the registration formalities completed and number plate fixed.

      After that, dropped folks home and headed straight to show my friends the new car. Went to v1p3r's house and the first thing he did was to touch the front bumper of my Baleno wit the rear bumper of his blue Baleno. Some sign of bonding that!

      Here is a pic of the two beauties together.
      Name:  baleno6.jpg
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      Day 1 - Got back home in time for dinner. Odometer reading 104kms.

      Initial plan was to do a to and fro drive to Hubli and back. Over dinner mom tells me that she prayed that she would come and offer prayers at Mantralaya if I had managed to get out of the Zen accident without any injuries.

      So now you know how long back my impromptu trips date back to. We started our journey to Hindupur at around 10pm and reached my aunt's place at around 2am with one stop for dinner at Lepakshi.

      Day 2 - Picked up my granny who was staying over at my aunt's place and began our journey to Mantralaya at 11am, reached the temple at 6pm, finished darshan by 8pm and after a quick dinner break started our journey back to Hindupur. We reached my aunt's place at 3am, slept for a couple of hours, started back to Bangalore by 5am and got home by 9am.

      4th March 2006: 10 pm I am on my way to RNS. Call up the SA.

      Me: This is Rahul, I need to book an appointment for 1st service on my Baleno.
      SA: Sir did you not take delivery of the vehicle just yesterday?
      Me: Yes, I took delivery on Thursday.
      SA: Sir, 1st service is not up until 1000kms or 1 month (whichever is earlier).
      Me: I know, I have already done 1000kms.
      SA: Sir, I will call you back in a minute.. (hangs up).


      A minute later I get a call from the GM of RNS:


      GM: Rahul, I hear you wanted to drop your car for 1st service?
      Me: Yes Sir, I am on my way to the showroom now.
      GM: But 1st service is not until 1000kms Rahul...
      Me: I know Sir, I have already finished 1000kms
      GM: (in a surprised tone) You are crazy, you know that right?
      Me: I know, see you in your office in about 5 mins..


      Car goes in for service, I hang around at a friends place and take delivery of the car post lunch and drive back home and start packing my clothes and the tool kit.

      It was time for yet another trip. Any guesses to where?

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      mclaren1885 how do you know for sure yours is the fastest NA Baleno in India? Even if you have some quarter mile drag or track timings..
      I don't know what's gonna happen man but I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames

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      Quote Originally Posted by Gilead View Post
      mclaren1885 how do you know for sure yours is the fastest NA Baleno in India? Even if you have some quarter mile drag or track timings.
      16.287 quarter mile timing at 2007 Speed Run. Still unbeaten by any NA Baleno till date

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      mclaren1885 I still envy the sound of your car...Its just awesome....Would surely like to get a ride on it someday....I'm still cursing my friends who changed my mind on getting a diesel car....
      I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.

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      First Impressions...

      First impressions from what I posted elsewhere...

      My take on the baleno:

      Looks : Well, looks as they say are very subjective. So let me try not to get into that detail a lot. From my POV i love the profile view of the baleno (ala jag ishtyle) , the front end of the car has an understated look to it. The less said about the rear the better. The drab looking tail lamps are an eyesore, but with the pros from the other ends any baleno owner can live with it me thinks. Also v1p3r had promised to do something about the tail lamps really soon.

      Handling & Comfort : Well did i mention that im still running on the pathetic stock rubber? Bridgestone 248's it is, 165/80/R13. The car surely handles pretty neat, however body roll was slightly evident. Not to that extent, but one could certainly feel it. Didn't gun the car as it had hardly clocked a 150 kms before I decided to take on the crazy trip of finishing the initial 1k kms run-in in less than two days. Speeds kept varying from 80-100 km/hr.

      It took a rather long time to get to Hindupur but the journey never seemed tired at all (atleast for the one who drove the car). Thanks to the brilliant front seats which grip u tight. The front seats are a class apart from the rest of the cars in the similar segment. Cant say the same about the rear seats, mom found them pretty uncomfortable and was continuously complaining of back ache. I thought she might be joking but later on realised just as well that the back seats indeed weren't that cozy as it was made out to be. I am thinking it could be becuase of the seats being rather hard as they are new. Leg room was quite sufficient for my family atleast. So no complaints.

      The car handled brilliantly over bad roads, soaks up the bumps pretty darn well. Mom even said it glides over the potholes with such ease. This coming from my mom certainly means quite a lot. However, thats not just it. Over a few potholes got that "khatak" sound that a few owners are complaining about. I got this sound atleast 5-6 times. At a particular instant dad did ask if the sound was due to the mud flap hitting the ground thus making the "khatak" sound. I have driven quite a few cars, not many handle well at high speeds and have good ride quality on bad roads. The Fiats were always masters at this, then the Polo. Apart from these, I rarely remember a car that handled well and had good ride quality as well.

      Apart from this thing there were plenty other things that did come to me as quite a surprise , at speeds over 90 km/hr I could consistently hear a whistling sound coming from the right front. Initially i thought this was "tyre noise" but on lending a close ear figured out that it wasn't. The driver side window beading was slightly misaligned.

      Apart from these while shifting from 2nd-3rd and from 4th-5th the clutch kind of kicks back pretty hard from a few inches away from the point of release which I found a little annoying.

      But the most heart wrenching issue for me was the bottoming out on speed bumps. Don't know if the GC is not good enough for our elephant - ant sized speedbumps that we seem to have here. But there were atleast two occasions when the cars underbelly was scraping so badly that i had stop mid-way on the bump and yell to my folks to get out of the car. Apart from this dad managed to scrape over a few bumps marginally too. This has certainly got me worrying.

      The tyre noise too was very evident, but i guess I'll have to live with it until my mods are carried out. Only then will I be in a position to decide the tyre/rim size. Due to the undersized tyres on the LXi more than 3 times the brakes locked up on some hard braking to prevent a few animals from being run over.

      Performance : This is one topic that i could go on and on for ever and any baleno owner would certainly agree with me. In the cities the baleno is a joy to drive owning to the brilliant torquey 1.6L mill. Unlike other cars in this category, the G16B has a ton of low end torque and is extremely rev happy all the way till the redline. Even on the highways the car was pure bliss. No need to downshift into lower gears at all. Just floor the pedal and you get that instant surge be it any gear. Couldn't test the max speed as the engine is brand new (almost actually). The max I hit is around a 100, with revs under 3k for majority of the journey.

      Dad was so floored by the performance of the car that he made it a rule that we both would take alternative turns at driving the car, with dad driving during the daytime and me during the nights. We were on a very tight schedule and as such couldnt avoid the night journeys. More than 600 kms of the of the 1100 kms were done in the night by me .. But must admit not once did I feel tired.

      Gear shifts are a bit vague , but i guess that it will free with some miles under the hood. Its not that bad , but it takes a while to get used to.

      The HPS is one of the best this side of 10L. Today when I come to think of it, the only steerings that I felt had better feedback are the Ford Ikon, Fiesta, Punto and Polo 1.6. Back in 2006, I would rate it as the best steering to have. Never been a fan of EPS.

      Fuel Efficiency : We clocked 429 kms before refilling at the reliance petrol pump at mantralaya. 24.7 ltrs of petrol went in, which gives an average of 17.36 kms/ltr with a car that has hardly clocked anything. That is brilliant yet again with about 20 % AC usage. Now coming to the AC did you know that it is indeed better than the E-class? For once the advertising guys really stated the facts.

      All in all this was one helluva driving experience. Loved every km I clocked on the baleno.. And with all the mods that i have in store it can only get better. Until then the car will be have to do with the stock tyres and track day. All in all , this car is worth every penny that I spent on.

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      Few Milestones and Day 10 sees the car on the Race Track...

      1000kms in 2 days.
      2600kms in 8 days.
      4000kms in 13 days.

      Day 10 - 12th March 2006.

      Ok, here is something I haven't mentioned till now. The reason why I was in a hurry to pick up the car instead of waiting to get my favourite colour was that a track day was organized the next weekend and I wanted to drive my own car on track and with a modded engine.

      But since the planning for the mods had not worked out as per schedule, I was left with no choice but to drive a stock car

      March 12, 2006.
      Location: MMST.


      I had finally made it to the track with my Baleno having covered ~3000kms.

      The guys at track asked me quite a few questions that went like:

      "Are you crazy to take a brand new car to track"?
      "How old is the car again, 10 days"?
      "What about running-in and all that"?
      "Dude, its a 10 day old car, you haven't even done 1st service yet and you want to drive on track"?
      "Awesome way to run-in a brand new engine, rest assured your car will be faster than most other stock Balenos" said someone.

      By the end of the day, I had lost count on the number of laps I had done. The stock tyres were crappy on track, but the amount of fun, listening to the tyres squeal in protest, the smell of burning rubber is unparalleled.

      A couple of friends drove the car on track as well and lets just say they too contributed in every possible way that I would change to fatter tyres very soon

      What impressed me most was the way the car took to corners. Main straight saw speeds of 140kmph on a very hot Sunday afternoon. Managed to clock a 1:32 on the short loop on the crappy 165s.

      Switched to driving the LGBs while the regular cars were asked to take a break, in the process injuring myself quite badly.

      Next day morning, we switched the front tyres to 195s and the lap times dropped to 1:28. A whopping 3.8 seconds difference, just by changing the 165s to 195s on the fronts. Running 165s at the rear still meant the car was extremely rear end happy

      Unfortunately, these were the days that I never carried a camera, so no pics from the 1st track day my car had been to

      The best 10000 bucks (fuel+stay+track charges) I have spent on a stock car EVER.

      Looking at the way I was clocking kms day after day, a friend quoted....
      At this rate u'll do 1000kms in 2days, 15000 a month and 1,80,000kms a year!
      And I was trying hard to not let him down

    9. #9

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      mclaren1885-This is one thread that I have eagerly been wanting to read. The experiences you have had with your Baleno, good and bad, will surely help us.

      Keep it coming!
      Low-end torque is great, but a screaming top end is magical.

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      1st Free Service Details at 1104kms on 4/3/2006.

      Parts:

      1. Oil filter - 63.01.
      2. Engine Oil (MGO Servo) - 3.3ltrs @ 120 = 396.

      Labour
      :

      1st Free Service - 160 (not charged).

      Total - 520.

      Can't seem to find the 2nd service details done at 5000kms.

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