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Maruti Baleno RS – A streetcar named desire

Maruti Baleno RS – A streetcar named desire

Snapshot: Maruti adds a new 1-litre turbo engine to the Baleno line-up. Rivals should be very worried.

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Not content with being the bestselling car in its segment, Maruti now wants an even larger chunk of the premium hatchback space. The Baleno RS with its keen push towards the enthusiastic driver is a step in that direction. Though the RS might only add a small percentage to overall sales, it shows Maruti’s intent for the future. A future where the company does not want to be recalled as the maker of boring but affordable cars. Well, that’s the plan. So is the Baleno worth a second look? Let us find out.


It looks exactly the same from the outside to the other versions of the car. However, keener observers will notice that the front bumper is all new with a more prominent plastic insert in the front. The fog lamps housing too is slightly different than other versions. The side profile is the same but you now get black alloy wheels in place of the grey ones. The design is the same though as is the tyre size, 195mm-section tyres on 16-inch wheels. The rear is the same as well but you do get a new bumper here as well along with more prominent plastic inserts. Overall, Maruti could have added some more pizazz by maybe lowering the ride height or a new set of alloy wheels. There is a RS sticker on the boot lid which separates this Baleno from the regular fare.


The cabin is exactly the same as well. So you get the same black interior, which looks sporty thanks to generous dose of silver all across. The front seats are phenomenal for comfort and even the longest of journeys won’t be too tiring inside this car. Support for the lower back and thighs is excellent as well.

You get a nice big touchscreen, which has Apple CarPlay. The screen is intuitive to operate and legibility is good as well. The rear has loads of space for both head and leg room all across. The flat floor means you can actually have three sitting abreast here. The 339-litre boot is huge in terms of space as well and more than enough to carry the luggage for a weekend getaway.

Engine, performance and gearbox

The 1-litre, turbo petrol engine has been dubbed ‘Boosterjet’ here. It makes 100bhp of power, which are good figures. The best part is that it doesn’t suffer from any turbo lag and is responsive from the word go. A gentle jab at the accelerator pedal will have the Baleno RS lurching forward. It starts responding from 1,200 rpm and goes all the way to the redline of 6,500rpm without too much fuss and has a nice throaty thrum about it. Acceleration is brisk and the car builds momentum quickly. Its 950kg weight also adds to the light footedness.

The gearbox is a five-speed manual and just like the regular petrol car, it has a slick action and a positive throw. The RS also has a linear and smooth clutch which makes gear-changing a breezy affair. Maruti claims an economy of 21.1kpl for this car.

Ride and handling

Maruti engineers seem to have added a lot more weight on the RS’ steering. It feels well weighted and offers a lot more communication than the one on the regular car. In fact, the regular Baleno’s steering feels overtly light in comparison. The 195mm section tyres offer good levels of grip as well. The RS’ also comes with all four wheel disc brakes, which inspire confidence.

High speed manners are good as well, with the RS offering good stability. The RS also gets a stiffer suspension set-up, which means body lean is at a minimal and always under control. So if you enjoy pushing your car into corners around hilly sections, you can have some fun in the Baleno RS.


Maruti has made performance accessible to a wide audience of buyers with the relatively affordable Baleno RS. While it may visually be similar to the regular Baleno, one drive in it will have you beaming from ear-to-ear and that along with Maruti’s trusted aftersales support makes it a strong buy.

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