Hot hatches weren't so popular in India like they are today. Now there is a growing market for such hatchbacks. Many manufacturers are now planning to acquire a share of what can be a profitable segment. Earlier this year, Maruti Suzuki too launched their version of a hot hatch - the Baleno RS. This more powerful trim of the Baleno was recently welcomed in our long term fleet, where it will sit for three months.
Thanks to this Baleno RS, Maruti Suzuki has managed to change the negative impression that it had acquired earlier in the case of hot hatches. The impression is that this carmaker offers only badge-engineered RS variants for the Indian market. Case in point being the Swift RS that featured just cosmetic updates. However, this Baleno RS packs some additional power over the regular Baleno. This is courtesy a 1.0-litre 'BoosterJet' petrol mill imported from Japan. This three-cylinder turbo-charged engine churns out 101bhp of power and 150Nm of torque. This is a respectable bump of 18bhp and 35Nm of torque compared to the standard Baleno. We are looking forward to a good driveability in the coming months.
Cosmetically, this Baleno RS doesn't show any stark differences over the design of the current Baleno. A closer look reveals that it gets a neatly integrated body kit with side skirts. This gels well with the overall styling of the car. Differentiation from the regular Baleno could have been more, but the RS isn't thankfully overdone either. The cabin is the same, save for the RS badged mats in this one. So can we expect a spacious and comfortable experience in this one too? We will find out.
We've already had a short stint with the Baleno RS at a race track earlier this year. However, now we will be able to see how it performs out on the road in daily driving conditions. Our next monthly report will focus on how the car performs in the city.
Pictures by: Ninad Ambre