If you’re looking for a full blown review of individual features and a strict comparison, you must try some professional auto review forums, portals or blogs. What’s mentioned here is strictly my personal experiences from test driving the automatic variants of these two cars. Two very good friends gave me the opportunity to test drive the automatic variants of both these cars.
Jazz emerges the winner for me on multiple fronts and even at the price point in terms of comparative offerings.
Ride Quality, Suspension : With the Baleno, one could feel the bad roads very clearly both at the driver seat as well as the rear seats. Riding over small speed breakers not a pleasant feeling. Even with enough braking the landing back on to the road after the speed breaker felt very bumpy. Nexa’s test drive was limited to poor service roads as they did not encourage to take the car on main road.
Jazz clearly was more forgiving with speed breakers and pot holes and absorbed much of the shock giving a very comfortable ride.
Transmission and Power Delivery: While both have a CVT, power delivery was much more smooth and refined in the Jazz in comparison to Baleno. The gear lever was much more slicker in Honda compared to the Suzuki. Jazz has a Drive and Sports mode in forward gear and paddle shift to run through the 7 gears. Driving in sports mode with paddle shift was really fun and the responses and engine growl makes it totally a fun thing to do, especially if you happen to get some open roads escaping the city traffic. Great for overtaking and taking the car quickly to cruise speeds, which usually is a pain in automatics. Will surely drink a lot more fuel in sports mode, but great driving fun. No Paddle shift for Baleno! Even the RS doesn’t get one.
Steering and Navigation : Jazz wins again. Smallish steering wheel. Very light, effortless and responsive with well integrated controls. Baleno’s steering was heavier in comparison with lot more direct feedback coming back from the road. Not bad to drive, but Jazz agains scores higher in comparison for comfort and handling.
Braking : ABS with EBD in the Honda gives brilliant stopping power and smooth stopping even on hard braking conditions. ABS is present for Baleno too, but braking in the Baleno does feel bumpy and it does affect the passenger comfort. Hard braking can bring the rear passengers to the front seat!
In cabin creature comforts
- Air Conditioning : Baleno’s A/c did not attain the set cabin temperature even by the end of the test drive. Honda’s a/c does the job well and in quick time. Touch controls for A/C in Honda vs. switches in the Baleno.
- Dashboards and Gauges : Dashboard plastic quality in Baleno is very mediocre for a car of this price. Finer details like printing on the switches etc. lacks finish and gives the impression that very high demand has made the focus shift from quality in the production.
- Seating : Lack of headroom is very evident in the Baleno and tall passengers will feel claustrophobic inside the cabin. Those who love being tucked inside a cocoon will love the rear seat of Baleno. Jazz’s tallboy stance gives it a good spacious cabin and open seating postures.
Visibility : This aspect needs specific attention as there’s a marked difference between the two models on this front. Both the cars have height adjustable seats and adjustable steerings. Driver’s field of view in Baleno for a tall person is obstructed by the top roof to an extent. Jazz’s tall boy design gives
Boot Space : While there’s nothing much to choose between the two cars in this aspect, Baleno’s boot is deeper and will need some effort to lift out the luggage compared to the Jazz.
The reason to write this post is that I had set the expectations quite high about the New Baleno, primarily because Maruti Suzuki stuck to that name and gave the impression that they wanted to bring back the legacy of the older Baleno. I’ve been and still am driving the Old Baleno Lxi 2005 (pics elsewhere in this blog) for good dozen years and still love the car for it’s character and performance. Shame that the new one didn’t come out anywhere close to it’s namesake big brother. Excellent looks and exteriors for a premium hatchback, the New Baleno falls short in so many vital aspects to get picked at the hefty price tag it comes with. Still sells like hotcakes!
My friends are awaiting the delivery of the Jazz automatic, which too is much quicker (~10 days) than the 5 months (!!) waiting time for the Baleno.