Maruti Suzuki has finally launched a proper RS version of something that is more than a body kit. At least, that was the feeling when they first announced that they’d be bringing in the Baleno RS with a turbo-petrol engine. The engine in question isn’t necessarily a bad one, it’s Suzuki’s 1.0-litre Boosterjet three-cylinder engine which internationally has a listed output of 110bhp. The issue being that RS in India has come with the power detuned to 101bhp and a torque output of 150Nm.
Not to say that it’s a slouch but it does take the shine off of it a bit. The power of the engine is helped by how light the car is in the first place, which does make for peppy and quick performance. The interiors of this five-door ‘hot’ hatch remain the same as the top trim variant, so it gets all the features like climate control and touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay. Exterior styling changes are also quite subtle and downplayed. The gearbox, fittingly, is a 5-speed manual only. There aren’t any other mechanical tweaks apart from a stiffer suspension, which means it’s still a practical daily driver.
The trouble is, with its pricing, for not a whole lot more, you could have a Polo GT TSI with DSG and overall better driving dynamics. If there’s one thing that gives the Baleno RS an edge, is the reliability and service trust that comes with the Maruti badge in India. It’ll help the sales, but it’s still a long way from being as good a driver’s car as the German or the Fiat Abarth Punto (which has a whopping 140bhp by the way).