The Baleno RS is going to be most powerful hatchback ever offered by Maruti Suzuki in India. It also will debut the Boosterjet series of engines – making it the first turbocharged petrol-powered Maruti Suzuki – in the country. A lot is riding on this go-fast version of the Baleno, which is most likely to be launched around the upcoming festive season. Let us see why this hatchback is generating so much anticipation ever since its Indian introduction as a concept at this year’s Indian Auto Expo in February.
Last year Suzuki introduced its first ever downsized turbocharged engine family – Boosterjet – and the debutant motor – 1.0-litre Boosterjet – and these will power the Baleno in India. Though it is available as an option in the stock India-made Baleno globally, it will be christened as the ‘Baleno RS’ in the country.
The Baleno RS will go up against the likes of the Polo GT TSI and the Abarth Punto. Among all these hot hatches, the bonkers Abarth Punto is the fastest one, clocking the 0-100kmph sprint in 8.8 seconds.
The Baleno Boosterjet in the European market clocks 0-100kmph in around 11 seconds. However, the Indian ‘RS’ version is expected to be lighter than the European Baleno powered by 1.0-litre Boosterjet, so it might match the GT TSI's figure of somewhere around 10 seconds.
Speaking of the power-to-weight ratio, the Indian version of the Baleno Boosterjet will likely to have a power-to-weight ratio between 115-120 PS/ton. The Punto offers a figure of 122 PS/ton, while the Polo GT TSI is at 95 PS/ton (all approx).
Besides the new engine, Maruti Suzuki will also improve the braking ability of the Baleno RS. It will be the second hatchback in its segment to come with all-around disc brakes, after the Abarth Punto. Speaking of the transmission, the Baleno RS will most likely to comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
It is expected of Maruti Suzuki to go subtle with the Baleno RS' appearance, like Volkswagen. The Abarth Punto, on the other hand, screams out loud that it is is the fastest one in its segment with its pop colour highlights and Abarth's Scorpion decals.
As seen in the production-ready concept of the Balneo RS from the Auto Expo, the automaker is likely to add body skirts in the RS version, and that probably will be all. Apart from this, the Baleno RS test mule has been spied a lot of times flaunting the ‘midnight black pearl’ shade, which is not available in the stock Baleno as of now. Maruti might be saving this colour for the RS version of the hatchback.
The Baleno RS is most likely to borrow features from the top-spec variant of the stock version. The latter is pretty well-loaded for its segment – and even more than the RS's competitors – with features such as the 7-inch touchscreen supporting navigation and Apple CarPlay, UV-cut glasses, bi-xenon headlamps with daytime running LEDs, among others. Having said this, Maruti might surprise us with sportier leather upholstery with the Baleno RS, which is presently not offered with the Baleno.
Since India is the only manufacturing hub of the Baleno, the localization content is extremely high. However, it will all depend on how localized the new 1.0-litre Boosterjet is in India, and that will play a crucial factor in the pricing of the Baleno RS. Having said this, the RS version is expected to come solely in a single variant, which will be slightly costlier than the top-end petrol version of the Baleno, undercutting both the Polo GT TSI and the Abarth Punto. Stay tuned.