It’s been a long time coming, but after years of waiting there’s finally a Maruti with an engine that an enthusiast would consider. Or at least that’s what it says on the brochure of the Baleno RS.
Based on the standard car, this model comes with a new turbocharged, direct injection petrol engine that makes more power, along with a slightly stiffer suspension setup and rear disc brakes. On paper, this new hot hatch’s 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine generates 100bhp @ 5,500 rpm and 150Nm between 1,700-4,500 rpm. A five-speed manual gearbox does the job of channelling that power to the front wheels.
Initial acceleration is linear, but from the moment you reach 1,700rpm the turbocharger comes into play and acceleration is more brisk. But, apart from this, power delivery is very linear – and, as you get into the higher reaches of the rev band, you realize that this car has a fair amount of punch over its naturally aspirated counterpart. 0 to 100km/h is dismissed in 10.17 seconds (the Baleno 1.2 does it in 12.58 seconds), and the car only keeps getting faster as you go further into triple-digit territory. Keep the throttle pinned, and the car will do an indicated 190km/h. So, while the Baleno RS is worthy of the hot hatch badge, a sportier engine note would have really sealed the deal. And while we’re on the subject of downsides, it would have been even better if the car had a little more power to really get your juices flowing – especially at the track. That apart, as an everyday road car that’s fun to drive, the RS has enough firepower to get you smiling when behind the wheel. Moreover, the inherent chassis balance of this platform really shines at the limit.
The Baleno RS does a great job of carrying speed through the corners, and it allows you to manhandle it if you so choose. All of this helped it put up a very respectable lap time on the board. So, the RS badge here isn’t in vain – this is a Maruti that enthusiasts can really sink their teeth into.