Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Engine & First Drive

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Overview

The race track is both the best and the worst place to test cars. Before you can begin to test a car on the tarmac, the track is already testing your ego. So, even if you get on to the track with a honed instinct to understand the car at hand, you have subliminally let that take a back seat by the time you are tackling the first corner. Often, it is a fight to keep the challenge going even as you weigh both your and the machine’s limitations. Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS On road price starts from 8,50,328/-. Check for price details of Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS in CarzPrice.

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That is exactly how it seemed when I was peering through the windscreen of the new Baleno Rs. I was at the Buddh International Circuit, the F1 circuit in Greater Noida just a few hours after the official launch of the Baleno Rs. Maruti Suzuki’s first honest attempt at a hot hatch is barely track ready, but the race track doesn’t discriminate. It is up to the driver to avoid getting distracted and focus on the task at hand. I was shaken out of that distraction when I was into my third lap. By that time it was already clear that the Baleno Rs. is not really meant for the track, but it was such good fun nonetheless.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Exteriors & Interiors

The Baleno Rs. (Road Sport, not rally sport, according to Maruti) is the car market leader’s first attempt at creating what is closest to a hot hatch. In the Indian context, this belongs to the performance category, while elsewhere in the world, this is just one more engine variant of the Baleno; and in most cases meant to help meet more stringent emission norms. But, what is in a name… or should we say an appendage. The numbers should still excite petrol-heads. How does 102 hp of power and 150 Nm of torque sound to you? Not bad for a sub-one-litre engine in a sub-tonne hatch, right?

But, before we get carried away by the new Boosterjet engine and its prowess, let us get past the Baleno RS’s design identity. From a distance, the new sportier version of the Baleno could pass off as the existing model, except maybe from the rear and if you had a keen eye. Maruti Suzuki has chosen to keep the unique features on the RS’s exterior to a fair minimum. It has got a new bonnet grille with a grey metallic chrome surround and a new bumper at the front with what looks like a large airdam and aggressive profile. Faux skirts in the same grey metallic chrome finish run along the sides and under the front fender. The rear features a considerably altered fender compared to the regular Baleno’s. There is also the rear spoiler at the roof and the mid-tail gate chrome half spoiler with the reversing camera in the middle. The only place where the Rs. appendage is visible is at the rear with the badge in blue. The most unique and good looking feature of the new Rs. variant are the black alloy wheels.

The changes to the Baleno RS’s cabin are similarly minimal. The interior is offered in an all-black avatar, in keeping with a very sophisticated, European flavour. The touchscreen infotainment screen and the coloured multi-information display in the instrument cluster with the helpful power and torque delivery identified in a real-time circular chart format have both been carried forward from the current Baleno’s cabin. The RS’s cabin is otherwise identical and doesn’t sport any Rs. identifiers. But the Baleno’s cabin was already a good jump in fit and finish quality

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Performance

Under the hood, the Baleno RS gets a 1 litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. Now since Maruti Suzuki has never done forced induction petrol engines in the past, the Baleno Boosterjet engine is completely new technology for it. The engine makes a substantial 101 bhp and 150 Nm. Despite being turbocharged, the max power and peak torque output is well spread out across the rev range and the engine almost feels like it is naturally aspirated, with very little turbo lag. Of course what everyone really wants to know is how the car’s outright performance is! And on that front too, the Baleno RS does not disappoint

Power delivery is very linear and the RS accelerates well on its way to three digit speeds. On the back straight at the BIC, we hit speeds of just over 160 kmph in fourth gear with the car still eager to accelerate more. Another point to note is that Maruti has not gone for an automatic gearbox like some of its competition and stuck to a 5-speed manual gearbox only. The gearbox isn’t as short and slick as that on the Swift but still feels very rewarding when shifting extremely quickly. Now if you are wondering why the Indian spec Baleno RS is almost 10 bhp down on power as compared to its global counterpart – blame it on the quality of fuel that our country has to offer. When BS VI fuel comes in, the Baleno RS will have the potential to match its international counterpart’s output at 110 bhp.

Baleno RS does get a slightly retuned suspension as compared to the standard car as it is slightly heavier. But a lower ride height and stiffer suspension setup should have been standard given the car’s sporty claim. That would have definitely differentiated the RS from its competition – and also more substantially from the regular Baleno too. So unfortunately the RS has a lot of body roll, especially when we took it to its limit on the track. The RS does get disc brakes all around – which is a good thing – 14 inch up front and 13 inch at the rear. As a result, the braking on the car has improved by leaps and bounds. On the safety side, ABS and two airbags come as standard – in keeping with Nexa portfolio products.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Driving

On the track, the Baleno Rs. feels much quicker than the regular Baleno. There is no turbolag and power is delivered quick… well, for a hatch in the mass market segment. The comparison can’t be with real performance cars and that is also the reason why Maruti isn’t offering a 0 to 100 kmph time for the Baleno Rs. But, getting to three-digit speeds is quick and on the long back straight in the circuit, I could reach 160 kmph or thereabouts before having to brake hard to take the fourth turn. Speaking of braking, the Rs. gets discs on all four wheels, and the brakes offer decent bite and consistent stopping force. The steering is typical hatchback style with not much feedback, though, putting the Rs. on the desired spot on tarmac isn’t so much a problem. However, the stock tyres we drove on weren’t that helpful at high speed cornering; they squealed and slipped quite a bit after a few lap. View offers & discounts on Hyundai Cars from Hyundai dealers in India/Hyderabad at Autozhop

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Safety

The Baleno RS has been launched as a single variant (Alpha). It is equipped with dual airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, disc brakes in all wheels, ABS with EBD, and has ISOFIX child-seat restrain anchorages. Driver seatbelt reminder buzzer with lamp and rear parking sensors with camera are among the other safety features

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Cost

Maruti Suzuki Baleno Rs Ex-Showroom Price in India ranges from 8,50,328/- (Baleno RS 1.0L) to 8,50,328/- (Baleno RS 1.0L). Get best offers for Maruti Suzuki Baleno Rs from Maruti Suzuki Dealers in India

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Verdict

If you are looking for a quicker family hatchback, the Baleno RS won’t disappoint. With better acceleration, steering and brakes, the performance is an improvement over the standard petrol version. But this comes at a price. The Baleno RS commands a Rs 1.4 lakh premium over the standard petrol car and does not have any additional kit. Yes, along with the more powerful engine and rear disc brakes, you also get a stiffer chassis, improved steering and suspension. However, our sources tell us that all Balenos will get the stiffer chassis soon, anyway. That being the case, the Rs 1.4 lakh premium does seem like a lot. But performance has never come cheap. So, does the car do justice to its RS badge? Yes it’s quick, but out here on the F1 track it didn’t seem a quick hot hatch. Then again, this circuit has made many a sportscar look slow. Guess it’s time to put the Baleno back to back with the Abarth Punto and the Polo GT to find out.

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