Maruti-Suzuki Baleno vs Tata Zest Comparison

Baleno vs Zest Comparison
Overall, the best value-for-money pick in this test is the Baleno diesel, whose Total Cost of Ownership works out to be 1 Lakh rupees cheaper than petrol Baleno and also the manual Zest diesel and has better performance, a lot more features and better after sales service than the Zest. If you are looking for an automatic geared car, the Baleno petrol CVT is the best choice, as its Total Cost of Ownership works out to be same as that of the Zest diesel-automatic, which does not have ‘creep’ functionality.

Pricing & Features: Tata Zest’s most popular variant, the ‘XT’ Diesel retails for 7.39 Lakh, Ex-showroom, Delhi. For just 2000 Rs. more, buyers have the option of buying the Baleno diesel’s ‘Zeta’ variant, costing 7.41 Lakh. (Zest ‘XT’ petrol costs 6.35 Lakh & Baleno ‘Zeta’ petrol costs 6.31 Lakh). The Baleno has a host of additional features over an equivalently priced Zest, worth at least 30,000 Rs. making the Baleno that much cheaper than an equivalent Zest.

Common Features: ABS, Airbags-2, Automatic Climate Control, Power Steering, Power Windows, Central Locking, Keyless Entry, Stereo: FM, USB, Aux, Bluetooth + 4 Speakers, Steering Wheel Switches, Parking Sensors, Electrically Adjustable, Mirrors, Rear Defogger, Alloys, Fog Lamps, Driver’s Seat Height Adjust
Extra Features in Baleno (Zeta): Auto-up Anti-pinch Window, Electrically Folding Mirrors, Colour TFT Instrument Cluster, Auto Headlamps, Auto-dimming IRVM, Reach Adjustable Steering, Push Button Start & Smart Key
Extra Features in Zest (XT): 5” Touch-screen Infotainment Display, LED DRLs

Performance & Drivability:
Petrol: Zest is the first car in the segment to get a turbo-petrol engine. However, the gains from turbo-charging are completely negated by it portly kerb weight. It is a whopping 250 kg heavier than the Baleno. Baleno on the other hand is powered by one of the best naturally aspirated engines in the segment, which coupled to the feather-light kerb weight gives it a significant performance advantage over the Zest throughout the rev range. It is also far superior in terms of refinement and ability to rev freely.

Power (PS@rpm): Baleno – 84.3@6000, Zest – 90@5000
Torque (Nm@rpm): Baleno - 114@4000, Zest - 140@1500-4000
Kerb Weight (kg): Baleno 875, Zest – 1125
Power to Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Baleno – 96, Zest – 80
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Baleno – 131, Zest – 124

Diesel: Both cars are powered by the same Fiat sourced 1250cc Multijet engine. Zest’s upper two variants have the benefit of a Variable Geometry Turbo increasing its power output by 15 PS. However it’s enormous disadvantage in weight results in much inferior performance than the Baleno.

Power (PS@rpm): Baleno – 75@4000, Zest – 75@4000 (XE), 90@4000 (XM & XT)
Torque (Nm@rpm): Baleno - 190@2000, Zest – 190@1750-3000 (XE), 200@1750-3000 (XM & XT)
Kerb Weight (kg): Baleno – 975, Zest – 1160
Power to Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Baleno – 77, Zest – 65 (XE), 78 (XM & XT)
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Baleno – 195, Zest – 164 (XE), 172 (XM & XT)

Fuel Efficiency:
Petrol: In our back-to-back tests, both the manual and automatic geared Balenos was over 2 kmpl more fuel efficient than the Zest.

ARAI Mileage (kmpl): Baleno (manual) – 21.4, Zest (manual) – 17.6, Baleno (automatic) – 21.4
Fuel Cost for 75,000 km (Lakh): Baleno (manual) – 3.45, Zest (manual) – 4.20, Baleno (automatic) – 3.45

Diesel: In our real-world tests, the Baleno was consistently 3 kmpl more efficient than both the manual and automatic geared Zests.

ARAI Mileage (kmpl): Baleno – 27.4 (manual), Zest (manual) – 22.95 (XE), 20.65 (XM & XT), Zest (automatic) – 21.58
Fuel Cost for 75,000 km (Lakh): Baleno – 2.05 (manual), Zest (manual) – 2.70, Zest (automatic) - 2.60

Space & Comfort: Both cars have wonderfully spacious and comfortable cabins. Both cars can comfortably seat three adults on the rear bench. Even boot-space is excellent in both cars with the Baleno having a capacious 339 litre capacity and the Zest even better with 390 litres of storage space.

Length (mm): Baleno - 3995, Zest - 3995
Width (mm): Baleno – 1745, Zest - 1706
Height (mm): Baleno – 1500, Zest - 1570

Ride Quality & Handling: Baleno has decent ride quality, with good bump absorption and stability, but it is no match for the sheer authority with which Zest can tame the Indian roads. Baleno gets caught out by sharp bumps, while the Zest just dismisses them with utter disdain.

Ground Clearance (mm): Baleno – 180, Zest – 165 (diesel), 175 (petrol)
Tyre Size: Baleno - 185/65R15 (Sigma & Delta), 195/55R16 (Zeta & Alpha), Zest – 185/60R15

Reliability and After Sales Service: This is where the Zest loses out big time. Tata’s ailing service network is no match to Maruti’s legendary service empire. First and foremost, the reliability of a Tata vehicle coming out of the factory itself is seriously lacking compared to that of a Suzuki vehicle. Tata’s service centers that are already understaffed, undertrained, and under equipped are then faced with added warranty claims making it a nightmare for customers to get decent service. No wonder then that resale value of Tata vehicles is significantly lower than Maruti-Suzuki’s of similar vintage.

Resale after 5 to 7 years est. (Lakh):
Baleno (Diesel manual) – 4.45, Zest (Diesel manual) – 4.05, Zest (diesel automatic) – 4.30 (XTA)
Baleno (Petrol manual) – 3.65, Zest (Petrol manual) – 3.35, Baleno (petrol automatic) – 3.70

Zest is one of the few cars available in a diesel-automatic option with a starting price of 7.33 lakh for the ‘XMA’ trim and 8.15 Lakh for the ‘XTA’, while Baleno petrol-automatic is available only in the ‘Delta’ trim for 6.76 Lakh. Although there’s one problem with the Zest automatic, which is that it does not have ‘creep’ functionality i.e. it does not move forward on simply releasing the brake pedals, the way all other automatic cars do. This takes away some of the convenience factor of the Zest’s automatic gearbox while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Total Cost of Ownership (in Lakh): (Vehicle Price + Fuel Cost – Resale Value)
Baleno (diesel manual) – 5.01, Zest (diesel manual) – 6.04, Zest (diesel automatic) – 6.45
Baleno (petrol manual) – 6.11, Zest (petrol manual) – 7.20, Baleno (petrol automatic) – 6.51


Verdict: The best value-for-money pick in this test is the Baleno diesel, whose Total Cost of Ownership works out to be 1 Lakh rupees cheaper than petrol Baleno and also the manual Zest diesel and has better performance, a lot more features and better after sales service than the Zest. If you are looking for an automatic geared car, the Baleno petrol CVT is the best choice, as its Total Cost of Ownership works out to be same as that of the Zest diesel-automatic, which does not have ‘creep’ functionality.

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