New Delhi: It's no longer a secret now, is it? India's largest automaker, is all set to enter the hot hatch segment this Diwali. The weapon of choice is Nexa's posterboy, the Baleno. Dubbed the 'RS', the hatchback was spotted testing yet again in the suburbs of Mumbai.
What's interesting, is that Maruti Suzuki haven't bothered with camouflaging the mule. What gives away the fact that the car is indeed the go-fast RS version is the colour and the wheels. The standard Baleno isn't offered in a shade of black and the alloy wheels are straight off the Euro-spec version. We have to say the wheels do look pretty nice, especially when compared to the rather wheelcap-ish design of the standard hatchback.
If this hasn't been mentioned enough already, let's revisit the specs one more time. The RS will pack a 1.0-litre, turbocharged petrol motor under the hood. The three-cylinder unit develops 110PS of power and 170Nm of torque; that puts it squarely into the Polo GT TSiterritory. What will make an enthusiast grin, is that the Maruti will get a good ol', honest-to-god five-speed manual transmission compared to the dual-clutch automatic wizardry of the Volkswagen. The Boosterjet petrol motor itself might find its way into other Marutis as well. The hot-selling Vitara Brezza, among others is in line for the Boosterjet treatment.
The Baleno has been commanding massive waiting periods that span over nine months in certain regions. However, the automaker does have a concrete plan to tackle the rising demand. Production for the Nexa hatchback has been ramped up already, and come 2017, Maruti's manufacturing facility in Gujarat will add to the production volumes.
The Boosterjet is a welcome move. With a conscious demand shift from diesel back to petrol, having a hot hatchback in the lineup makes a lot of sense. We expect the Baleno RS to be substantially more expensive than the standard, petrol Baleno. Expect prices to start around the Rs 8 lakh mark.