Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Overview
The race track is both the best and the worst place to test cars. Before you can begin to test a car on the tarmac, the track is already testing your ego. So, even if you get on to the track with a honed instinct to understand the car at hand, you have subliminally let that take a back seat by the time you are tackling the first corner. Often, it is a fight to keep the challenge going even as you weigh both your and the machine’s limitations.
That is exactly how it seemed when I was peering through the windscreen of the new Baleno Rs. I was at the Buddh International Circuit, the F1 circuit in Greater Noida just a few hours after the official launch of the Baleno Rs. Maruti Suzuki’s first honest attempt at a hot hatch is barely track ready, but the race track doesn’t discriminate. It is up to the driver to avoid getting distracted and focus on the task at hand. I was shaken out of that distraction when I was into my third lap. By that time it was already clear that the Baleno Rs. is not really meant for the track, but it was such good fun nonetheless. Check for Maruti car dealers in India
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Exteriors
The Baleno Rs. (Road Sport, not rally sport, according to Maruti) is the car market leader’s first attempt at creating what is closest to a hot hatch. In the Indian context, this belongs to the performance category, while elsewhere in the world, this is just one more engine variant of the Baleno; and in most cases meant to help meet more stringent emission norms. But, what is in a name… or should we say an appendage. The numbers should still excite petrol-heads. How does 102 hp of power and 150 Nm of torque sound to you? Not bad for a sub-one-litre engine in a sub-tonne hatch, right?
But, before we get carried away by the new Boosterjet engine and its prowess, let us get past the Baleno RS’s design identity. From a distance, the new sportier version of the Baleno could pass off as the existing model, except maybe from the rear and if you had a keen eye. Maruti Suzuki has chosen to keep the unique features on the RS’s exterior to a fair minimum. It has got a new bonnet grille with a grey metallic chrome surround and a new bumper at the front with what looks like a large airdam and aggressive profile. Faux skirts in the same grey metallic chrome finish run along the sides and under the front fender. The rear features a considerably altered fender compared to the regular Baleno’s. There is also the rear spoiler at the roof and the mid-tail gate chrome half spoiler with the reversing camera in the middle. The only place where the Rs. appendage is visible is at the rear with the badge in blue. The most unique and good looking feature of the new Rs. variant are the black alloy wheels.
The changes to the Baleno RS’s cabin are similarly minimal. The interior is offered in an all-black avatar, in keeping with a very sophisticated, European flavour. The touchscreen infotainment screen and the coloured multi-information display in the instrument cluster with the helpful power and torque delivery identified in a real-time circular chart format have both been carried forward from the current Baleno’s cabin. The RS’s cabin is otherwise identical and doesn’t sport any Rs. identifiers. But the Baleno’s cabin was already a good jump in fit and finish quality
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Interiors
Inside the Baleno RS cabin, there is no change compared to the standard car. We were fairly impressed with the interior of the Baleno, and that is not simply restricted to the way the dashboard or the instrument cluster looks. The all-black look continues to charm, while the materials used and the fit & finish are good for the segment it will play in. The only doubt we have here is whether the consumers would expect some sporty elements in the interiors to go with the RS badge
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Performance
The Boosterjet 1.0 is one of the two engines Suzuki produces in the Boosterjet series, the other being the more powerful 1.4 l unit. The 998 cc, three-cylinder engine on the Baleno RS is a direct injection turbo engine that produces around 100 hp of peak power and 150 Nm of torque. The Boosterjet 1 l engine is claimed to deliver 20 % more power and 30 % more torque compared to a regular 1.2 l naturally aspirated petrol engine.
There are technical advances that enhance the performance quotient on the Boosterjet engine – at the core of the engine lie the direct injection system that delivers fuel at pressures of about 200 bar into the cylinders, giving the engine very efficient combustible air-fuel mixture that help reduce fuel consumption as well as emissions. In a DI engine, to quickly create an air fuel mixture inside the cylinder, the fuel to be injected must be atomised. Additionally, the shape of the intake ports and the pistons are optimised to generate a stronger tumble flow.
The turbocharger, on the other hand, utilises the energy of the exhaust gases to drive the turbines and force feed the compressed air into the cylinders. The result is not only output equivalent to an engine of much greater displacement, but also high torque at low revs. The turbine runs at around 200,000 rpm and this result in an output that is equivalent to the output of a much larger engine, , explained CV Raman, Executive Director (Engineering), MSIL
Some of the other highlights of the compact and lightweight engine include reduced friction timing chain, short port intake manifold, roller rocker follower with hydraulic lash adjustor, a dual relief oil pump, and integrated exhaust manifold. From a performance perspective, the first thing we noticed was the ease at which the engine builds power. There is no visible lag, as the engine revs quickly through to the peak rpm limit. We could push the car to a maximum speed of around 162 km/h on the back straight at BIC, and at all times NVH levels on the engine was refined, albeit with a constant humming, yet not-so-unpleasant noise. Transmission on the Baleno RS is the same 5-speed manual unit found on the regular Baleno hatchback.
Now, the Boosterjet engine that is available globally delivers around 170 Nm of torque and 85 kW, or approximately 14 hp of additional power compared to the one launched in India. The engine has actually been detuned to cope with the poor quality of fuel available in our country at the moment. Most vehicles in India today run on petrol with octane rating of 91, while the European-spec Boosterjet needs to run on 95 octane rating petrol. One of the key parameters for petrol is the octane number, which essentially is a measure of its resistance to knock.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Driving
On the track, the Baleno Rs. feels much quicker than the regular Baleno. There is no turbolag and power is delivered quick… well, for a hatch in the mass market segment. The comparison can’t be with real performance cars and that is also the reason why Maruti isn’t offering a 0 to 100 kmph time for the Baleno Rs. But, getting to three-digit speeds is quick and on the long back straight in the circuit, I could reach 160 kmph or thereabouts before having to brake hard to take the fourth turn. Speaking of braking, the Rs. gets discs on all four wheels, and the brakes offer decent bite and consistent stopping force. The steering is typical hatchback style with not much feedback, though, putting the Rs. on the desired spot on tarmac isn’t so much a problem. However, the stock tyres we drove on weren’t that helpful at high speed cornering; they squealed and slipped quite a bit after a few lap
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Safety
The Baleno RS has been launched as a single variant (Alpha). It is equipped with dual airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, disc brakes in all wheels, ABS with EBD, and has ISOFIX child-seat restrain anchorages. Driver seatbelt reminder buzzer with lamp and rear parking sensors with camera are among the other safety features
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Price
Maruti Suzuki Baleno Rs Ex-Showroom Price in Chennai ranges from 8,40,274/- (Baleno RS 1.0L) to 8,40,274/- (Baleno RS 1.0L). Get best offers for Maruti Suzuki Baleno Rs from Maruti Suzuki Dealers in Chennai. Check for Baleno RS in Chennai
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS Bottomline
There is a lot to like about the Baleno RS. It’s powerful, hugely spacious and by all means, a genuinely affordable performance hatch. The fact that it’s fairly efficient and backed by the most trusted brand in the business also helps its cause. However, it’s somewhat disappointing that Maruti hasn’t worked on the interior one bit and done little to spruce up the exterior look.
So if you are after the boy racer looks and want your performance hatch to stand out, perhaps the Fiat Abarth Punto is a better choice but be prepared to fork out at least Rs 80,000 extra for it. As it stands, the Baleno RS is an understated performance hatch but in the larger scheme of things, an accomplished all-rounder, indeed.