2017 Maruti Baleno RS review
- Published On: 2 June 2017
- 4 min read
Does Maruti’s most powerful hatch justify the RS badge?
What sets this RS version apart from the standard Baleno? The RS uses the same suspension as the standard petrol car but stiffer by about 10 percent. Its chassis is also stronger, but this has led to a weight increase of 60kg over the Baleno 1.2 petrol. This takes the car’s weight to 950kg, which is quite light and should translate to good performance. Instead of the car’s standard drum brakes at the back, this car comes with disc brakes for more stopping power. Under the hood sits a 998cc, three-cylinder unit from Suzuki’s new Boosterjet range. These direct injection, turbocharged petrol engines are imported here and are quite different from the K10 engines that we are familiar with in cars like the Celerio, WagonR and the Alto K10.
The engine has been designed to be lightweight and compact, and has been engineered to handle our BS-IV fuel. The engine makes 102hp at 5,500rpm and 150Nm at 1,700-4,500rpm. These figures, while more than the standard car, are less than Ford’s 1.0 turbocharged, direct injection EcoBoost engine (125hp and 170Nm) on the EcoSport. The Suzuki Engine on the European version of the Baleno makes 111hp and 170Nm, so why does the Indian version make less power? Maruti had to tweak this engine to handle our lower grade of fuel, which is why it makes less power.
The RS hits 100kph from standstill in a respectable 10.25sec, which is faster than the standard car, which clocks in at 12.6sec. However, it’s slower than the Abarth Punto (9.32sec). But the Baleno RS is quicker than the Abarth when you run through the gears. This can be attributed partly to the Baleno’s weight and also because the boost comes in a lot earlier on this engine. Proper power kicks in at about 1,600rpm, and from there on, you get a linear surge of power, until the limiter cuts it at 6,000rpm. Put your foot down and this car will put a smile on your face, sure it doesn’t yank you back into the seat like in the Abarth but it’s enough to keep you more than content. The engine gets vocal when you push it hard, but it’s a satisfying noise.
The car is extremely driveable, you can drive at a higher gear than warranted by your speed and not have any trouble. The third gear is especially flexible. The car’s five-speed gearbox is slick and easy to handle, and the clutch is quite light.
Externally, the RS sports blacked-out bits to set it apart from the regular Baleno. The cabin, however, is identical to the standard car.
It’s a spacious and practical cabin but the hard plastics don’t feel upmarket enough to justify its price tag – the RS does cost a substantial ₹1.4 lakh more than the top-spec Baleno 1.2 Alpha after all. At ₹8.69 lakh, regular buyers may not be interested in this car, but for the long-ignored enthusiast, it’s a car that can make mundane daily commutes fun. It’s a reasonable attempt at a hot hatch, though but well, it could have been way hotter.