Over a year after its official debut at the 2016 Auto Expo, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is finally set to go on sale in India next month. Slated to be launched on the 3rd of March 2017, the new performance-oriented Baleno RS will mark the Indo-Japanese carmaker's entry into the popular 'Hot Hatch' space and will come bearing a handful of changes as compared to the standard Baleno hatchback. Even though the India-spec Maruti Baleno RS is not as powerful as the global version, it is still powerful enough to rival the likes of Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, Ford Figo 1.5 Ti-VCT and the Fiat Abarth Punto, all of which are above the 100 bhp mark. Read our list of everything you need to know about the Baleno RS for more information.
Now, Maruti has already opened the online booking for the soon-to-be-launched Baleno RS and specifications and features are up on the Nexa website. So is the new Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS equipped enough to compete with its aforementioned rivals? Let's find out.
Engine and Transmission:
Now, when we talk about hot hatches, the most important aspect is all the muscle that the car holds under the hood. In that case, Maruti Suzuki has equipped the Baleno RS with its new 1.0 litre BoosterJet engine that already does duty of Suzuki's global models. The 998 cc turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine is capable of churning out 101 bhp at 5500 rpm and develops a peak torque of 150 Nm from as low as 1700 rpm. The engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. The engine has been detuned for the Indian market, whereas globally the same motor makes 112 bhp. While we can only comment on the performance once we get to drive the car but this slash in power surely makes the Baleno RS the least powerful one in the list.
In comparison, Volkswagen's Polo GT is just a bit more powerful at 104 bhp, produced by the tried and tested 1.2 litre TSI, 4-cylinder petrol engine. Maximum power is achieved at 5000 rpm, while the engine develops a peak torque of 175 Nm at 1500-4100 rpm. Volkswagen only offers the 7-speed DSG gearbox with the petrol-powered Polo GT TSI, while a 5-speed manual gearbox does duty on the diesel variant.
If more power is what you need then the Ford Figo might just be right for you. The car received a generation upgrade back in 2015 along with an all-new 1.5 litre Ti-VCT petrol engine. The 1499 cc 4-cylinder petrol engine is capable of churning out a maximum of 110 bhp at 6300 rpm and develops a peak torque of 136 Nm at 4250 rpm. Like the Polo GT, the Ford Figo Ti-VCT also comes with only an automatic gearbox and in the Figo's case, it's a 6-speed dual clutch transmission.
Finally coming to the most powerful car in the list, the Fiat Abarth Punto is powered by the carmaker's popular 1.4 litre T-Jet petrol engine. The 1368 cc 4-cylinder motor churns out a whopping 145 bhp at 5500 rpm and develops a peak torque of 212 Nm from as low as 2000 rpm. As loved by the enthusiast, the car comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox sending power to the front wheel.
|Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS||Volkswagen Polo GT TSI||Ford Figo||Fiat Abarth Punto|
|Engine||1.0 litre BoosterJet||1.2 litre TSI||1.5 litre Ti-VCT||1.4 litre T-Jet|
|Max Power||101 bhp||104 bhp||110 bhp||145 bhp|
|Max Torque||150 Nm||175 Nm||136 Nm||212 Nm|
|Transmission||5-speed MT||7-Speed DSG AT||6-Speed DCT AT||5-Speed MT|
Features and Equipment:
On the features front, the upcoming Baleno RS is largely similar to the regular Baleno but the styling has been tweaked. The car comes with projector headlamps along with LED daytime running lights and chrome highlight. The car gets new black alloy wheels, chrome door handles, revised LED taillamps, new front and rear bumper and a larger spoiler. The equipment list is also quite decent as the car carry forwards the features of the top-spec Baleno like the SmartPlay infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, navigation, voice command, and steering mounted controls, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and more.
The Volkswagen Polo GT is the oldest model in the list but it still offers some nice features like - Dual-beam halogen headlamps in black finish, cornering lamps, chrome highlights, 15-inch, 'Estrada' alloy wheels and black ORVMs. The cabin on the other has is more loaded with features like - Sporty flat-bottom steering wheel design with controls for audio, Bluetooth and Voice Command, leather wrapped steering and gear lever, aluminium pedal cluster, cooled glove box, GT branded scuff plates, and driver-side dead pedal. The car also comes with equipment like - Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP), hill hold assist, dual front airbags, ABS, and cruise control.
Unlike the other three, the Ford Figo is not a performance-oriented version of the Figo hatchback but just the top-spec version. This means the car employs the same design and styling as the other variant while equipped with features like - chrome grille, body colour bumper and ORVMs, headlamps levelling function and 14-inch alloy wheels. The cabin, on the other hand, comes with features like black interiors, steering mounted controls, 2 line MFD screen along with safety features like - ABS with EBD, dual airbags, keyless entry, ESP + TCS + HLA and optional side and curtain airbags.
As for Fiat's Abarth Punto, the cars gets the Abarth treatment inside out. Available in black or white colour option the Abarth Punto comes with a single racing running with the Scorpion logo on the roof. The car comes with large halogen headlamps with chrome accents around the grille and red accents around the foglamps. The Abarth Punto also offers the best-in-class 16-inch scorpion alloys, red ORVMs and Abarth graphics on the sides. As for the cabin, the Abarth Punto offers sporty bucket seats, with Abarth styling, steering mounted controls, infotainment display with navigation, aluminium foot pedals. Safety equipment includes - all 4 disc brakes, dual airbag, ABS with EBD and more.
|Models||Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)|
|Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS||TBA|
|Volkswagen Polo GT TSI||₹ 8.57 lakh|
|Ford Figo 1.5 Ti-VCT||₹ 7.43 lakh|
|Fiat Abarth Punto||₹ 9.90 lakh|
Considering all these factors it's clear that on papers the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is not the best of the lot and apart from the engine and some minor updates the car is very similar to the regular Baleno. This also means that in terms of pricing, the car will undercut most of its rivals and is suited for those looking for a more peppy and fun to drive entry-level hot hatch rather than an outright performance hatch. Having said that we can further comment on which one of these is the best only after we pit them against each other in real world conditions. So stay tuned for that.