The Baleno certainly feels like its a 2 step upgrade from the Ignis. The interiors are really upmarket!
BHPian neil.jericho recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
A few days ago, we brought home a new Maruti Baleno AGS Zeta. We went with the Zeta version as it came with 6 air bags (non-negotiable for us). The Alpha variant had features which were nice to have and not necessarily must haves, at least for our usage. The Baleno was a logical upgrade from my Mom’s Maruti Ignis, which was a car that I really detested driving, on account of its comically non centering steering. Thankfully, the Baleno doesnt seem to have this problem.
With a budget of around Rs 10 L (including the exchange value of the Ignis), there were 2 cars which I had shortlisted – the new Maruti Baleno AGS and the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios. IIRC we were comparing the mid variant of the Baleno, with the top end variant of the Grand i10 Nios. Between the two, the interiors of the Baleno felt significantly more premium, though my Mom preferred the compact size of the Grand i10 Nios. The Hyundai was cheaper by around Rs 50K, as well.
Two of the main reasons for sticking with Maruti were the good resale value and peace of mind when it came to service. The Maruti service center is situated very close to my Mom’s place of work. The service advisors come and collect the car keys, get the vehicle serviced and return the keys, without any fuss. Prior to the Ignis, my Mom owned a Hyundai i10. Every visit to the Hyundai SVC involved a prolonged battle with the service advisor to knock off all the unnecessary items that were sqeezed into the inflated bills. Dr Crazy_Driver’s mammoth thread on Hyundai also played a key role in swaying our decision towards the Baleno.
That said, the “supposedly premium” Nexa sales experience nearly pushed us to cancel our booking and go with the Grand i10 Nios, instead. The irony is that both dealerships are under the Popular group, but they couldnt be more different from each other. One is a well run, professional setup. The other is staffed with amateurs, barring one gentleman.
Popular Hyundai sales experience
On my first visit to the showroom, I was promptly attended to by an executive, who also offered me some refreshments. She took my details down, as well. I was quickly assigned a sales executive, who suggested the Grand i10 Nios or the i20. After a thorough walkthrough of both cars, he immediately arranged for a demo car to take me to their stockyard to see the different colours that were available. The sales executive also followed up frequently to arrange the test drive for my parents. The only sour point with the Hyundai sales experience was the abysmal resale that they offered for our low run Ignis. Later on, when they got to know what Maruti quoted, they tried to match it, as best they could. Overall, this was a very good sales experience.
Popular Nexa sales experience
On my first visit to the showroom, I was promptly attended to by an executive, who didnt take down my details. The showroom only had one Grand Vitara and 2 Ignis cars. When I asked the sales executive about the Baleno, its variants, colours etc, he told me that I had to go to the stockyard if I wanted to see the car. He didnt bother to take my details or provide any information on the car. I even asked him if he was interested in selling me a car but he wasnt even bothered to feign the effort.
After I sent an email to Maruti’s customer care, the showroom’s sales manager got in touch with me and assigned another sales executive. On the morning of the scheduled test drive at my home, there was no update from him. More than 45 minutes later, without even an apology, he called me to say that he was still in the showroom. A few days later, he was supposed to bring the car to my parents place for a test drive. Instead of calling me to say that the car was not available, despite confirming the appointment several days in advance, he dropped me a brief voice note on Whatsapp.
Thankfully, the showroom’s sales manager realized that the experience was going rapidly downhill and took time out of his personal schedule, on a Sunday, to bring the car for a test drive.
While I was test driving the Baleno, the sales executive had contacted his counterpart at True Value and quoted a ballpark figure of Rs 5.3L for the exchange of our Ignis. When the same True Value executive came to inspect the car, he pointed out one small sensor issue, which we fixed promptly at their SVC. However, despite the issue getting rectified, for some strange reason, he kept lowballing us on the exchange price. After a lot of back and forth, the sales manager came back to us saying that they were taking back their quote of Rs 5.3L and could only offer Rs 5.1L, and that too after so many approvals etc. It was almost as though he had moved heaven and earth to give us Rs 20K less than what they had initially quoted. He was flummoxed when I told him that the Hyundai team had also quoted Rs 5.1L.
To compensate for the missing Rs 20K, the sales manager offered to switch the existing Rs 5K loyalty bonus to a Rs 6K accessories bonus. The measely Rs 1K increment was not what we were expecting to get. Though the exchange value fiasco nearly ruined the sales experience, we decided to let it go, as we were happy with the Baleno and wanted the car before April 1st, which is when the state tax was going up.
Meanwhile, it was such a chore to get the sales executive to share the correct final breakup of the payment to be made. Either he would forget to add line items or he would add the numbers up incorrectly and so on. This back and forth took several days.
After completing the payment formalities (ex-showroom + insurance + accessories etc), we purchased the car insurance from our agent. Till then, we had not brought up the topic of taking insurance with the dealership. I sent across the insurance policy to the sales executive and asked him to close the registration formalities. The next day, I received multiple calls from the sales executive and his manager. The shocked manager claimed that I wasnt allowed to take insurance from outside and that he was going to withdraw the accessories bonus, because he assumed we will take Maruti’s insurance. Despite politely reminding him that the topic of insurance was never discussed and that, as a customer, there was no link between the accessories bonus and showroom insurance, he adamantly stuck to his guns.
In parallel, my email complaints to Maruti had been redirected to the CRM at the showroom. In all my interactions with the Nexa dealership, this was the only person who was a true professional. Later on, I found out that he had served in the armed forces for a long time. He swiftly addressed all my prior concerns with the sales process, as well as the sales manager’s hilarious threat to withdraw all the offers, despite all the payments being made.
After the registration and paperwork was done, I received no further communication from the sales executive or his manager to inform me about the delivery date and next steps. They just vanished right into thin air! I had to follow up with the CRM to coordinate the delivery date and time.
Though the registration formalities and number plate installation were done a few days before the end of the FY, we took delivery on the 1st of April, for personal reasons. The delivery was scheduled for 4 PM. In the afternoon, the CRM called to inform us that his team had not yet installed the fog lights and that the delivery would be slightly delayed. To his credit, he ensured that it was done ASAP. Finally, we were given a time of 4:30 PM.
When we got there, the lady receptionist directed us to the waiting lounge and we were served refreshments. Though no other customers were in the showroom, nobody attended to us for the next 20 minutes. All the executives were chilling out inside a conference room. Neither did our sales executive make an appearance, nor did his manager. As I said, vanished right into thin air!
One sales executive came to tell us that our car would take another 15-20 minutes to arrive, when we could see the car parked 15 feet away, in the showroom itself!!!
As soon as the CRM arrived, he helped us install the various mobile applications, gifted us a pair of complimentary coffee cups and conducted the key handover. The uninterested sales executives were magnanimous enough to step out of their conference room, if only to clap and take a photograph of the handover. Their expressions were as though they were teenagers being given lectures on old school morality by their strict parents.
I have never seen a more uninterested, non-supportive set of showroom executives in my life. Not one of them lifted a finger to facilitate the car delivery.
The CRM had to remove all the seat covers and give us a walkthrough of the infotainment system. Im sure none of this is in his job description but it was clear that nobody else in the showroom was going to conduct the car delivery, either.
As a token of our thanks, we gifted him a pen. Had it not been for him, I would have still been waiting to hear from my sales executive on when I could take delivery of my car …..
This was a downright embarrassing sales and delivery experience from Popular Nexa. My parents were quite unhappy with the entire experience. There is a basic courtesy which has to be extended to customers, which was certainly lacking from the Popular Nexa team. Barring the excellent CRM, who continuously went above and beyond his line of duty, everyone else in the Nexa chain seems to be treating it as a government job, where the customer has to be grateful to spend Rs 10L to buy a car from them. I really dont know why Hyundai’s sales executives have to work hard, when the Nexa showroom which is down the road, helps convert Hyundai’s potential leads into actual sales.
I really hope that someone from Maruti is aware of how mis-managed the entire pre-sales and delivery process is, in this showroom. I had sent an email to Maruti, asking for their area sales manager to get in touch with me, but that never happened. I can only suggest that Cochin based TBHPians buy their Nexa products from other dealerships. The hours of unnecessary headache, just to upgrade to another car in the Nexa suite, is hard to justify.
And finally, the car …
I have to admit, the Baleno certainly feels like its a 2 step upgrade from the Ignis. The interiors are really upmarket! I drove it back to my parents home and though there was a lot of traffic, the return journey was a joy. The engine seems to be nicely mated to the gearbox. The Ignis’s gearbox made us feel like we were in a boat, with its constant head bobbing. That isnt the case with the Baleno AGS. Overall, this feels like a premium, well rounded hatchback. I will share my driving experiences with the Baleno, as I get some more time with the car.
Its a shame that for a car this nice, the sales experience had to be so rotten ….
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