Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS – What’s Missing?
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is the country’s most affordable hot hatch. While it is an attractive proposition, there are a few gaps in its packaging.
The long-awaited Baleno RS was finally launched last week at Rs 8.69 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. That put it at a price premium of around Rs 1.40 lakh over the regular Baleno Alpha petrol and Rs 25,000 over the equivalent Baleno diesel.
Apart from the new, more powerful Boosterjet engine, it gets a few cosmetic changes, a new manual transmission and rear wheel disc brakes. However, there are a few features that Maruti could have offered with the car to improve its credentials as a hot hatchback.
The Baleno’s cabin, is, no doubt, a good place to be in. There’s oodles of space, a super-detailed instrument cluster and a clean centre console. However, with the RS, Maruti could have offered something to make it more distinctive.
Simple add-ons like some RS insignia on the dashboard, contrast stitching on the seat fabric, RS branded illuminated scuff plates or aluminium floor pedals would make the Baleno RS feel more unique on the inside.
As we discovered in our track test, the seats need better side bolstering to offer more support while cornering. They’ve have been carried forward from the standard Baleno, which means they are comfort-centric and not ideal for spirited driving.
The 16-inch wheels of the Baleno aren’t the most stylish to begin with. Maruti has painted the same wheels black on the RS and it would have been better if the car was offered with a sportier and more aggressively styled set of wheels.
Shorter Gear Throws
The Maruti Baleno RS has a different five-speed manual gearbox than the one offered in the standard car – one that is capable of handling the higher torque output of 150Nm (35Nm more than the 1.2 K-Series unit). However, the throws of the gear lever feel a tad too long and it isn’t as engaging to use as say, the Swift’s.
Slightly Lowered Suspension
The Baleno’s ground clearance of 170mm is adequate for Indian roads, but that’s a part of the standard car’s design, which is focused on comfort and practicality. The Baleno RS’ suspension could have been lowered by 10-15mm, leaving it still usable on Indian roads, but improving its handling and reducing body roll too.
Wishful thinking, but it would have been nice if the Baleno RS had a sportier or more audible exhaust note, to make each drive more enjoyable.
What do you think about the Baleno RS? What do you like/not like about the performance hatch? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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