Maruti Suzuki has launched a new performance version of their successful premium hatchback – the Baleno. After pushing it to dominates all the volume segments, Maruti has now slowly started to get into the niches and the Baleno RS is a testimony to this. The performance hatch segment, where it wants to establish itself, is dominated by the VW Polo GT, the Abarth Punto and the underdog – the Ford Figo AT. Here is how the Baleno RS performs when compared to the competition.
This Fiat Punto comes with an Abarth badge which means it come to you all-blown out. The Abarth Punto is fired by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 145bhp of power. The power figures along with the stiff-suspension make it a hot hatch like none other. The Baleno RS is rather ponied by the Abarth until you factor in the practicality. The Baleno RS can be your everyday hot hatch that you could get serviced anywhere in the country unlike the Abarth, for which you will have to make sure you have a tow-truck on speed dial.
Volkswagen Polo GT TSI
The Polo GT TSI rekindled the performance hatch fire in the hearts of car enthusiasts that had almost died after the demise of the Fiat Palio GTX. With its dual clutch automatic gearbox, a peppy turbocharged petrol engine (one of the first ones amongst small cars) and the classy German dynamics, it still holds sway. But for the pure enthusiast, a manual is more fun to drive even if it not might be faster than the DSG. And then Baleno RS is lighter than the Polo and delivers 110bhp of power, six more than the 104bhp of the VW. A tough choice to make isn’t it?
Well, Ford might not have badged this little car differently like the competition has done, but this 1.5-litre petrol engine Figo hatch is no less a performance hatch. It displaces the most amongst the four (1500cc) and is the only naturally aspirated mill, the linearity of which could hardly be matched by any forced induction motor. The dual clutch gearbox is a bit groggy but the handling of the blue oval compensates for everything. The Baleno RS though, is a bigger car and has the Maruti advantage to it.