Sold my used Venue & got a new Baleno CNG: Thoughts after 1 year

The Baleno is a wonderful car for most people. It is reflected in the sales figures. Had my budget permitted, I would have gone for a Kia Sonet automatic (TC).

BHPian sonmi-451 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I purchased a Suzuki Baleno CNG Zeta in grey colour on 16th November 2022. The odo reads 23,4XX a year later. My usage pattern has been about 50% highway and 50% in and around cities. I used to live in Vjayawada when I purchased the car and was expecting to use it there for a couple of years at least, but had to move to Hyderabad just 6 months after purchase. I believe this change in ownership experience of a CNG car from a Tier-II city to a metro might be helpful for potential owners.


I am 5’11 and another 6-footer can sit behind me easily. I also use a car seat for my daughter and still space is not an issue. Sub-4 m SUVs like the Brezza, Venue and Nexon seem tighter on space than the Baleno.

Easy to Drive:

This is common with Suzuki cars. The clutch and steering are light and the gearbox is smooth. No issues there.

CNG Mileage:

On highways, when I maintain speeds between 90 and 100 km/h, I get 28-30 km/kg as long as the acceleration is not too aggressive. Even when driven with heavy foot it’s easy to get 22-23 km/kg on highways.

In the city, I used to get about 19-20 km/kg when in Vijayawada. In Hyderabad that has dropped to 17-18 km/kg. I was expecting the city FE to be around 22 km/kg when I purchased the car, but after noticing the average speeds (using the Suzuki Connect app) to be ~22-25 km/h in the city, I am not surprised anymore.

With the cost of CNG at Rs. 90-95 per kg, I am looking at Rs. 5-6 per km in the city and Rs. 3-4 per km on the highway. The latter at least helps me feel better for not opting to buy a Tiago EV considering the many reliability issues owners are reporting.

Head Unit:

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are a boon. You will never go back to using a cable once you get used to them. Add a wireless charger and the experience gets even better. The huge plastic area around the 7-inch unit sticks out as a sore thumb.


LED headlights (on Zeta and Alpha) are good, for people with mostly city usage. They may be enough. I added Aozoom FLP 1090 fog lights to improve visibility on highways and also teach some manners to high beam abusers. The low beam lighting has improved drastically, on highways and the high beam has improved a good deal as well, but these fog lamps have a wide spread and are not very focused. I find it odd that the DRLs below the headlights are not always on though!


I am not an audiophile. The stock speakers sound alright as long as the volume is below 70%. Above 70%, some genres of music cause the speakers to crack up. So I keep volume below 60% most of the time.


In the city, the car is easy to drive. The only gripe I have is with the 2nd gear. I wish 2nd gear had more torque lower down to avoid going into 1st gear when tackling potholes or speed breakers. I used to like it better in Vijayawada where the roads were mostly flat. I have been struggling after moving to Hyderabad where the change in elevation is much more frequent and as as a result, the gear changes as well. Add to that the traffic here and it makes me regret not buying an automatic in the first place.

I don’t miss the automatic on highways though. I would have liked a little more power though. On flat roads, when running on CNG, the power seems adequate. It’s on the inclines that the car struggles. I would have happily given up a little FE to gain a little more power, but I am sure engineers at Suzuki know better.

I find the braking to be good for the most part. The car stopped without much drama on a few occasions when I had to brake hard.

Ground clearance is decent at 170 mm, but I feel we need at least 180 to 190 mm to handle our roads without much bother. On some occasions, I used to hit 120 km/h when using my Sunny/Venue, but I don’t feel confident doing that in my Baleno, I stick to speeds between 90 and 100 km/h most of the time. I go to 110 km/h at the most if I have to, even on Hyderabad’s ORR. The car doesn’t feel planted, due to its light weight and soft suspension.


I like the suspension setup on the car, It is soft but not too soft for my liking. Only the big potholes cause it to bottom out. This setup will turn off enthusiasts though (which I am not). I do have fun once in a while but I prefer comfort over it any day. I would have preferred a stiffer suspension If we had better roads.


Not sure if the seating falls under this. I find the seating to be too low. This was almost a deal breaker for me, but considering my budget constraints and the need for a CNG car with a decent feature list, I had to compromise. This does bother me a lot. Even with the seat set to its highest position, the under-thigh support is missing (I am 5’11 and obese). Mind you, the seats in the Baleno, at least to me, seem to have a longer base than the first-gen Brezza. I used to hate the short seat base in the first-gen Brezza. Due to the low seat height, I end up with my bottom on the seat but knees in the air with little under-thigh support. This issue is more pronounced on long trips which I do undertake at least a couple of times a month. I did buy two cushions – one about 2 to 3 inches thick and another about an inch thick. Both didn’t help much. I like how wide the seats are, considering I am an obese person. The cushioning is good even on long drives.

Another major irritant for me is the front windshield. I find it to be way too short. The visibility of the front is hampered. I never had this issue in any of the cars I used before in India (Sunny, Venue, Zest, Ertiga and first-gen Elantra). I find the rear-view mirror to be blocking part of the view as well. I did get used to it for the most part, but it is still in the back of my mind on every drive, unfortunately.

Other than these, I don’t have any complaints. I do like the physical buttons for the air-con.

Purchase and After-sales:

The on-road price was Rs. 11.20 lakhs, along with a Rs. 15K discount in the form of accessories (only because we knew some higher-ups at Varun Nexa). The purchase experience was smooth. I was probably among the first few hundred customers to get delivery of a Baleno CNG when it was just launched back then.

The after-sales service and support have been good except for a couple of issues I shall touch upon a little later in the post. No surprises with service costs so far. It is due for the next service at around 27K km. Here are the previous service costs. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the details but I did opt for teflon coating during either the 3rd or 4th service. I did get some discount for 4th service on labour costs:

  • 1st free service at 1,000 km – Rs. 248
  • 2nd free service at 5,223 km – Rs. 248
  • 3rd free service at 9,173 km – Rs. 4,631 (Rs. 1,710 – parts & Rs. 2,920 – labour)
  • 4th paid service at 17,686 km – Rs. 5,752 (Rs. 3,777 – parts & Rs. 1,975 – labour)

I got the 4th service done very early at 17.6K km as I had moved to Hyderabad by then, but was in Vijayawada for a trip. I wanted to get it done at the service centre which I knew very well. I was not sure how the experience and costs would be in Hyderabad.

I wanted to list the observations above first for people who prefer a short read (although it doesn’t appear short now). I shall delve into a few more details below.

Vehicle history in India: Please skip to the next section if you are interested only in the Baleno.

Back in late 2019, after my daughter was born, I purchased my own first car in India – a 2014/15 TATA Zest AMT with 75,000 km on the odo, from a family friend. He had a relative in Tata Motors, so he had got it serviced at the dealership regularly. The car didn’t have any major issues as such, but we did know some expenses would be needed in the next 1 or 2 years. I was guessing this would be Rs. 30-40K at the most.

I loved the seating comfort and suspension of the Zest but the AMT was horrendous. I was willing to live with it though. In the couple of months that I had it, I was only getting 13-14 km/l of mileage even on highways. On top of that, the service centre told me I might have to spend close to 80K for on various things like clutch for the AMT, suspension components, etc. The low mileage combined with the expenses due made me sell the car within just 2 months. Initially, my plan was to keep this car for 3-4 years or until a good enough and affordable EV was launched. In hindsight, I regret the decision to sell it instead of getting it fixed. I did get back the same amount I paid for it though.

Next, I purchased a 2012 Nissan Sunny XL with ~78,000 km on the odo for Rs. 3.2 lakhs. Loved the diesel engine in this car a lot. Even though the seating was low, I didn’t feel uncomfortable even on long trips. Maybe because the seat base was long enough? I spent close to Rs. 1 lakh on it to fix part of the suspension, new seat covers, new paint (it had many scratches but no dents) and a few more things I don’t recall now. I was happy with the car, but due to Covid, I only put 22K km on the car in the couple of years that I had the car. Once Covid came to an end and I knew we would be travelling more, the itch to upgrade to something newer and with a higher seating position led to me selling the Sunny. Also, the car required constant upkeep and even though the amount was not too high, it did seem a little too frequent for my liking. I sold it and purchased yet another used car.

Next came a 2020 Hyundai Venue S Plus with 59,000 km on the odo in white colour. The first owner put 59K km in just 18 months or so. The car was in great condition. I got it checked by a senior Hyundai service head and got a go-ahead after the service history was checked too. I purchased it for Rs. 8.75 lakhs. The only gripe I had with this car was the space at the back, but we were a family of 3 (myself, my wife and 2-year-old daughter) so it was manageable. Loved the refined diesel engine and the FE was decent too. I was looking forward to my first 6-speed gearbox experience in India, but that enthusiasm was cut short as it required more frequent gear changes compared to the Sunny, which was far better in this regard. The clutch was not light either, maybe because it was old. With the increased usage, I put close to 5K km on the odometer in a span of 3 to 4 months. I started to feel pain in my left foot when stuck in traffic in the city. The car asking for frequent gear changes also didn’t help. I started to contemplate selling the car and getting an automatic this time.

That’s when I had a shock. The car’s engine started spewing smoke and oil when the dipstick was removed. This clearly didn’t happen when I got the car checked at the time of purchase. Since the car was still under factory warranty the Hyundai service centre agreed to get it fixed under warranty. They didn’t agree to replace the engine, but to fix it. I was not at all happy with this. I ended up selling the car for a loss of Rs. 1.8 lakhs within 3 to 4 months of purchasing it.

My family had had enough of me wasting money on used cars. I was given a strong warning that the next car had to be a new car. I couldn’t argue either considering how my impulsive nature had cost us a lot of money with used cars so far – money which was taken as loans .

Buying a new car:

I had decided that my budget would be 10 lakhs, but was willing to stretch to 12 at the most if it meant I could get a car I liked in most aspects and hence keep it for a long term (5 to 7 years).

When I started looking for a new car back in August/September 2022, I wanted something which was convenient (read automatic) and had a lower cost of running (CNG/EV/Diesel). I knew the Tata Tiago EV was around the corner I even booked it. During the waiting period, the more I thought about it, it became clear that with a range of just 180-200 km on a single charge, the Tiago EV as the only car would not do for me as we did go on long trips relatively often. Diesel options were limited to the sub-4 m SUVs mostly. I did like the Nexon a lot after test drives. Since the clutch in most diesels is not light and diesel AMT SUVs like the Nexon and XUV300 cost Rs. 14-15 lakhs to start with, I had to drop the idea. Even though I had a bad experience with the Hyundai/Kia 1.5 Diesel, I really wished for the Kia Sonet base version to be available with the iMT, but it was only available in the mid variants which were, again, way out of my budget. The on-road prices of diesel cars (except Altroz D) were out of my budget and I was not getting diesel automatics as well even if I stretched it to Rs. 12 or 13 lakhs. Though I liked the Altroz, the cost analysis (both upfront and running costs) favoured CNG cars. The only problem was that all CNG 5/4 seater cars were of at least a segment lower compared to the Altroz.

I almost decided to go with Tata Tigor CNG. That’s when I came to know that the Baleno CNG could be available soon. It seemed like the best possible compromise at that time. So I paid the booking amount and waited for it only after confirming that the Zeta CNG would come with 6 airbags and the Team-BHP official review also mentioned that the second-gen Baleno seemed better built than other Heartect platform-based cars. I cancelled the Tiago EV booking and booked the Baleno CNG Zeta.

The on-road price was Rs. 11.2 lakhs which included insurance through Suzuki. The insurance was more expensive by Rs. 10K or so compared to offers from Acko, but I wanted to have the hassle-free experience of having Suzuki insurance. I did get a few cosmetic/body-related accessories because I had to use that 15K discount/coupon I was offered for accessories. I chose not to go with seat covers as my back gets sweaty during summer on long trips. I never felt comfortable with seat covers in Indian weather conditions. Maybe high-end ones might be different. I did purchase the extended warranty package as well (Rs. 16K covering up to 5 years). Other accessories I got were as follows:

Fog Lamps – Aozoom FLP 1090 – Rs. 16K (local shop)

The accessories shop guy said he wouldn’t need to cut any wires but ended up doing it anyway . I am afraid this will spoil my warranty (extended to 5 years now). Fog lamps are linked to the high beam switch, so they go to high beam mode along with the headlight. I make sure to use the high beams when there is no oncoming traffic unless the oncoming 4-wheelers have high beams ON and don’t respond to my dipping. I am extra careful with oncoming 2-wheelers though.

DashCam – 70mai Pro Plus A500S – Rs. 11K (Amazon)

This is the model with dual cams. I am satisfied with the performance so far. It’s been close to 8 months since I got this. The front one (2k resolution) is good enough to read number plates in most light conditions. The one at the back (1080 p) struggles with number plates in most conditions unless the vehicle is very close and moving slowly.

TPMS – JK Treel – ~Rs.2.5 or 3K for 4

I purchased this going by the opinions of other Team-BHP members. I got it from Kunal ji, who is very professional. I also purchased another set for my father’s car from him as well. Performance has been good, but lately looks like one of the tyres is losing air very slowly. I am not sure if it is the TPMS that’s causing this. Need to get it investigated soon.

Rear Bumper Guard – M-tek – ~Rs. 5K

Just like the powerful fog lamps, I understand this accessory is also illegal in India, but with the number of idiots on our roads, I couldn’t resist. It has already saved my rear bumper on at least two occasions I know of from bikers. One of those incidents was bad enough to bend the guard substantially.

Other observations and final thoughts:

I would have been a much happier owner if I had continued staying in a Tier-II city like Vijayawada. CNG was available much more freely there and the car required much fewer gear changes too. In Hyderabad, I find a minimum of 5 to 6 cars (half an hour wait time) waiting in line. The only time the number is less is during early morning (before 7.30 AM or so). Also, find things “Out of Stock” way more often here. I usually don’t wait if I see any more than 5 cars waiting in line. Combined with that, the issue with heavier traffic and steep roads in many places has made my experience a lot worse once I moved to Hyderabad. If I had known these issues with CNG in metro cities in advance, I would have bitten the bullet and gone for an automatic. I would have most likely gone with Ignis AMT.

The Baleno is a wonderful car for most people. It is reflected in the sales figures. Had my budget permitted, I would have gone for a Kia Sonet automatic (TC). For the price I paid and the running costs I am seeing, I am satisfied with the Baleno. My current project/client lets me work from home permanently. If I were to start going to my office daily in my car, I don’t see myself being able to drive this car every day for 20-40 km daily. I may end up getting an automated clutch for this car or replace it with an automatic car.

I would like to close this post by thanking the Team-BHP admins for granting me membership in the first place and also a piece of advice for anyone who is not in great financial shape to be careful with their car purchases, please. I have made many mistakes (I made a few while in the US too – post for another day) and lost lakhs of rupees due to my impulsive nature. Cars are depreciating assets and wrong decisions can result in a substantial burden, as I have learned the hard way.

I shall post reviews of the second-gen Ertiga CNG (father’s car) and Tiago EV (brother’s car) later on.

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