998cc, 3 cylinder,
100.5bhp @ 5500rpm
150Nm @ 1700 - 4500rpm
Rear: Torsion Beam
Fuel Tank Capacity
Rs. 8.69 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
Maruti Suzuki may be the No.1 car
manufacturer in the country and their cars may be the best when it comes to
utilitarian advantages. But driving a stock car from Maruti Suzuki on an
international high speed race circuit could seem a bit farfetched a proposition.
Well in all honesty, I entered the BIC (Buddh International Circuit) with the
thought that this was just another day at work, with me behind the wheel of yet
another car with a fancy name. But what was to come next would simply baffle my
Yes, I knew there were a few changes in the
output figures, no. of cylinders, kerb weight, chassis and suspension. But how
well would all of these changes fit on Maruti's latest baby? Settling in behind
the wheel, I gently nudged the accelerator, an almost instant throttle response
added a little glee to my expression. As I began pushing the RS a little
harder, I was stupefied at how effortlessly this hatchback responded to my
demands. Its little 1.0 litre, turbocharged, petrol engine is not humble in the
least, I would rather describe it as the Looney Toons character 'Taz'. Like an
over eager kid in a candy store, I began redlining the Baleno RS on every gear.
Mated to a 5 speed transmission, the 1.0L,
Boosterjet engine turns 150Nm of torque from 1700-4500rpm and a neat 100.5bhp
at 5500rpm. The revs build up in a linear fashion right upto the 6000rpm mark.
Despite being turbo charged, the RS has been tuned to deliver power to the
front wheels in a seamless manner. Pushing this hot hatch hard on the back
straight of the BIC, I was able to achieve a top speed of 172kmph and ran out
of road before I could up-shift to 5th gear. The RS is quick through the first
two gears, the 3rd and 4th gears have long legs, giving this hatch ample of
capability to rev and stretch its legs. Even the gear shifts are smooth and
easy to slot, though I would have loved it if the gear box had shorter throws
to improve the sporty appeal of the Baleno RS.
Maruti has also included disc brakes on all
four wheels, the brakes are progressive and immensely capable and can easily
bring this hatch to a halt in minutes. The suspension leans marginally on the
stiffer side and feels sporty. Maruti has not dropped the ride height of the
Baleno RS. Even the chassis felt a little rigid thus giving the driver more
control, especially while taking corners and speeding out of them. What
delighted me most about the Baleno RS was its tail happy nature. It will bring
out its rear on sharp corners, but even the gentlest of taps on the accelerator
pedal will bring it back in line. There is minimal intrusion from driver aides
and its more about the man at the wheel than the technology behind it, thus
making it better than competitors and a true driver’s car.
Along with performance, Maruti has also
included some safety aspects on the Baleno RS. Launched in the single Alpha
variant, the Baleno RS complies with pedestrian safety norms, side and frontal
offset impact norms, well before the deadline. Maruti has also slapped on
ISOFIX mounts along with dual airbags, seatbelts with pretensioners and force
limiters, ABS & EBD and an extensive use of high strength steel in
The Baleno RS features most of the kit that
one gets on the regular version of the car along with the addition of a
sportier body kit which includes skirting all around, black alloys (same design
as standard Baleno), a re-designed front bumper and grille as well as a
re-designed rear bumper. To look at there is no stark difference but simple and
subtle cues. On the inside the Baleno RS does not feature any updates and the
additions of some sportier seats along with mildly tweaked upholstery could
have gone a long way with pleasing the customer even more. That being said, if
you are behind the wheel of the RS, it won't really matter because the Baleno
RS has the tenacity of drawing your attention to the road ahead.
Boiling things down to the price, the RS
will cost Rs. 8.69 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). In my opinion this hatch deserves
it! Yes it gets a 1.0L, 3 cylinder engine with a power figure of 100bhp but the
Baleno RS has a good power to weight ratio, weighing in at just 950kgs. The
hatch has also got an ARAI certified fuel average of 21.1kms to a litre, which
is quite impressive. All these things combined with Maruti's service network,
economical cost of service and availability of parts, makes the Baleno RS one
juicy bet for any petrol head.
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