For the first time in its 33 year history in India, Maruti Suzuki has tasted success in the premium vehicle segment. Sticking to something that it is well known for (hatchbacks), it launched the Baleno and things have never looked better. Now to further cash in on the success, it will launch a sportier version of the hatchback for the Indian market this festive season. Christened the Baleno RS, it was unveiled and showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo. Ahead of the launch, here are some of the things that we can expect of the hatchback.
Body kit and special alloy wheels
When the Baleno was launched, many praised its feature list, engine options but were critical of its safe and rather bland looks. Now with this new Baleno RS, Maruti Suzuki is expected to introduce a new body kit as well as swankier alloy wheels which will give the Baleno some sporty credibility to match the RS tag.
1.0-litre Booster Jet Engine
Downsizing is the latest mantra among manufacturers and looks like everyone wants to be seen making an effort. Suzuki will be the latest to join this club with its new 1.0-litre Booster Jet engine. A turbocharged three-pot mill, it is good for 110bhp/170Nm of torque. While providing a good output, it is also expected to give a good fuel economy. We believe that Maruti Suzuki will offer this car with both the five-speed manual and the CVT. It will take on the likes of Ford’s EcoBoost engine as well as the Volkswagen 1.2-litre turbocharged mill.
The Baleno RS is expected to be offered as a fully loaded top-of-the-line version. This means touchscreen infotainment system, climate control, automatic projector headlamps and wipers, electrochromatic IRVM, keyless entry and possibly leather seats. This car will also be offered in a special shade of black and blue that is currently not offered with the standard car.
Having spotted the car on test so many times, we can confirm that this car will get rear disc brakes as standard. Since it is expected to be a top-of-the-line variant, dual front airbags and ABS with EBD will be standard item in the feature list.
First Japanese in the 100bhp+ hatchback club
A great man once said “With great demand comes great choices for customers”. Okay that was made up (by me) but it does manage to describe how our change in preferences over the last few years has prompted manufacturers to bring in some really good sporty hatchbacks. The Volkswagen Polo GT started the trend in 2013 and last year Fiat stepped in with the Punto Abarth. Now, the Baleno in this RS guise will join an exclusive club of sporty yet equally practical everyday hatchbacks. For a manufacturer that practically invented the concept of multiple models to boost overall volumes, this is a major step forward.
The standard petrol Alpha manual Baleno is priced at Rs 7.21 lakh while the AT, which is a Zeta variant, is priced at Rs 7.57 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). We believe that the RS variants will be priced Rs 1 lakh more than the equivalent 1.2-litre variants. This means even with this price increase, the car will still undercut the Polo GT as well as the Abarth Punto by a significant margin.