This month, our long term report of the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS focuses on city driving. We will talk about four major aspects - driver comfort, city performance, fuel efficiency and parking niggles.
As we had discussed earlier in our introduction report, the interior of the RS isn't different from the regular Baleno except for the RS badged floor mats. This layout is anyway a good thing as the low dashboard provides a good frontal visibility. I could find a comfortable driving position thanks to the numerous adjustments available for the seat and the steering wheel. The seat has a soft padding and side bolsters to provide adequate support. The centre arm rest adds to the comfort and can also house something as large as your precious wallet.
The Baleno RS comes powered by a smaller yet more powerful 101bhp 1.0-litre BoosterJet engine unlike the conventional 1.2-litre one. This new three-cylinder engine isn't as smooth as the four-cylinder one, but is still refined. Unless you rev it above 2,000rpm, you won't hear the throaty sound. This is also when you will experience its healthy acceleration. There's a fixed-geometry turbo-charger, but Maruti has done a fantastic job in reducing the turbo lag. So what you have is a nice linear power delivery. This combined with a smooth five-speed gearbox and light clutch ensured that I didn't have a tiring drive even on crowded roads of Mumbai. There's 150Nm of torque available from 2,500rpm, meaning I could drive the RS easily at slower speeds in higher gears too. A downshift only provided me an excellent pickup to go past cars in a jiffy.Furthermore, the light steering makes it enjoyable to drive the car.
The Baleno RS weighs just 970kg making it a lightweight car in its segment. With such great drivability, we weren't really expecting a high fuel efficiency. But, by offering 13.8kmpl in bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions, the Baleno RS has left me amazed. I have very rarely managed to get anywhere close to these figures in my Jazz or Amaze under the same conditions.
Now that I am used to the great rear visibility of my Jazz, the rear windshield of the Baleno RS feels very small. But then, the rear view camera and sensors come to the rescue while reversing. The guidelines on the screen also do a good job in helping me reverse the car in a tight parking spot. So living with the Baleno RS in the city turned out to be more of a delightful experience. Let's see how it copes with our highways when I take it out for a long drive in the coming month.
Pictures by Kapil Angane