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Old 20th March 2017, 18:11   #1
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Default Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

The Maruti Baleno RS has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 8.69 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• 1.0L Boosterjet engine with more power & torque. Minimal turbo lag = good driveability
• Tastefully integrated bodykit gels well with the exterior styling
• All-round disc brakes. Confidence-inspiring braking ability
• User-friendly cabin with loads of space! Accommodating 339 liter boot too
• Comfortable ride quality matched with neutral on-road behaviour
• Kit includes dual airbags, ABS, projector headlamps + DRLs, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay, navigation and more
• Maruti's excellent after-sales service & fuss-free ownership experiences

What you won't:

• Simply overpriced! A whopping 1.5 lakh rupee premium over its 1.2L sibling
• Not really a ‘hot hatch’. Neither its engine nor the handling are sporty
• Inside out, it’s almost identical to the regular Baleno. Differentiation should’ve been more
• 3-cylinder motor – although acceptable - lacks the refinement of the 4-cylinder 1.2L
• Ordinary interior quality is Swift-like. Several budget grade parts in here
• Light build. Lacks the solidity of its rivals
• Rear seat headroom & under-thigh support are limited for tall passengers


Last edited by Aditya : 20th March 2017 at 18:16.
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:12   #2
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Since the Maruti Baleno has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on the Baleno RS variant. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete Baleno road-test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

Interior Design, Space & Features (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

Interior - Rear (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

In-Car Entertainment (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

Engine, Gearbox, Ride and Handling (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

Other Pertinent Points (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)

The Smaller Yet Significant Things (Maruti Baleno : Official Review)


Last edited by Aditya : 20th March 2017 at 18:16.
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:12   #3
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The Maruti Baleno was launched in October 2015 and has emerged as a strong seller in the B2 segment since; it has managed monthly sales of over 10,000 copies on several occasions. Maruti's competitors have been selling more powerful variants of regular hatchbacks, which catered to the needs of driving enthusiasts desiring a higher level of performance. In order to get a share of this profitable segment, Maruti started work on a sportier version of the Baleno. The RS is the company's attempt to take on cars like the VW Polo GT TSI. There is indeed a growing market for such hatchbacks - even VW has been pleasantly surprised with the demand for the Polo GTs.

Maruti-Suzuki had been infamous for performing cosmetic brutalities on their existing models - one such garish contraption was christened the Swift RS in mid-2013:


Obviously, there was nothing "RS" about the Swift, other than visual changes that also included painted wheel caps! But the poor show of the Swift RS did not deter Maruti from introducing a slightly sober RS version of the Ciaz. Admittedly, there were hardly any takers in the market for either model:


However, this new Baleno variant is far from being just a badge-engineered "RS". The car comes with a 1.0L, 3-cylinder, turbocharged "BoosterJet" petrol engine that puts out 101 BHP and 150 Nm of torque, which are 18 BHP and 35 Nm more than the standard car. Along with the additional power, the reputation for bulletproof reliability that Maruti cars enjoy and the company's widespread service network will play an important role in helping the Baleno RS garner customers.

There are very subtle visual differences between the RS and standard Baleno. The body dimensions obviously remain the same and while the RS retains all the colour options that are available in the Baleno range, that black shade spotted on test mules is sadly not being offered. At first glance, the RS looks exactly like the standard car. However, to distinguish it from the regular Baleno, Maruti has given it a tweaked grille, redesigned front + rear bumpers, coupled with a neatly integrated body kit and side skirts. The RS also gets black-painted alloy wheels. Design wise, they are exactly the same as the ones found on the standard car. We wish Maruti had chosen something different.

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There is unanimous agreement that the Baleno RS is overpriced. The on-road price difference from its 1.2L petrol sister runs well over Rs. 1.5 lakhs. That is way too much money for what's on offer. Further, the Polo GT TSI costs only 50k more and gives you an automatic, more power & torque & 4-cylinder refinement for that premium. What's the reason that the usually-VFM Maruti has overpriced this car? Simple - the engine is imported from Japan. Think of how the S-Cross 1.6L (imported motor) was also overpriced compared to its 1.3L variant.

On the weighing scales, the RS gains a whopping 60 kilos over the 1.2L Alpha petrol sibling. Despite the smaller engine size, the RS now weighs almost as much as the diesel Baleno! Still, it continues to remain the lightest car among competitors.

So, what's new on the outside?

Smart-looking front with a new grille pattern & redesigned bumper which sports a wider air-dam:


At the rear, an RS badge and new bumper are the only changes. Lights and other fittings are carried over from the standard car. Exhaust almost hidden from view:


Side profile is identical to the standard Baleno, save for the black-painted rims and side skirts. We're just glad that Maruti refrained from garish decals (link to gawdy Abarth):


It would take an enthusiast to recognise the RS. Many customers would view the RS as a 'tatkaal' edition - if they don't want to spend months waiting for the regular Baleno, they'll pay some more and drive home a Baleno RS sooner:


Front bumper with a neatly integrated chin spoiler in gunmetal finish; this gives the car a slightly more aggressive look:


Foglamp housing is redesigned and the lights appear to stick out now (compared to the recessed units of the regular Baleno):

16" alloy wheels shod with 195/55 section Apollo Alnac 4G tyres are carried over from the regular Baleno. Wheels are now finished in black:


Rear disc brakes are a welcome addition, even though they look small. It's commendable that the Baleno RS didn't suffer from brake fade, especially since all journalists were ripping the car on the track:


Side skirts sport a gunmetal finish and sit flush with the running board:


The standard Baleno gets no variant badging. The RS breaks the trend with a badge on the right side of the hatch. RS stands for 'Road Sport':


Changes to the rear bumper are more visible than the front. Notice the liberal use of black plastic and a gunmetal-finish diffuser. The shape of the number plate housing has changed as well:

Last edited by GTO : 21st March 2017 at 11:02.
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:12   #4
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So, what's new on the inside?

The interior of the Baleno RS is identical to that of the standard car. The dashboard continues to have an all-black theme with silver inserts. Even the steering wheel is identical:


A, B & C pedals are well spaced out. Considering this is a sportier version of the Baleno, at least aluminium pedals should have been provided. Chief competitor - the Polo GT TSI - gives you one pedal less :


Look closely and you'll see that RS-branded floor mats are the only change on the inside:

Last edited by Aditya : 20th March 2017 at 18:17.
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:20   #5
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Driving the 1.0L Boosterjet Petrol

We drove the Baleno RS at the Buddh International Circuit. Here's the car in some of the colours on offer. BIC was a good choice of location, but let's get one thing out of the way - this isn't a hot hatch:


Traditionally, the entire fare from Maruti has been oriented towards dishing out commuter grade engines. In the last couple of years however, some heads at Maruti Suzuki have warmed up to the idea of offering more powerful engines - case in point, the S-Cross 1.6. Now, the Baleno gets more BHP & torque too:


The RS-badged Baleno is powered by a 998 cc, 3-cylinder Boosterjet engine. This motor is fully imported from Suzuki's Sagara Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The Boosterjet series is Suzuki's answer to the small displacement direct-injection turbocharged engines of today. It's based on the familiar K10, which also does duty in the largest selling car of India - the Alto. Maruti claims that the engine underwent 4 lakh km of testing in Indian conditions. We don't doubt that statement, considering how often the Baleno RS was spotted testing.

This engine will surely go mainstream in the future. The Baleno RS is a smart way of getting initial feedback & testing done by owners. This isn’t so much a performance motor as it is Maruti introducing its future-ready engine in India. Expect to see the turbo-petrol in a lot of future Marutis (including the Vitara Brezza petrol). The Boosterjet engine cut open:


Coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission, the small 1.0L engine pumps out 101 BHP @ 5,500 rpm coupled with max torque of 150 Nm @ 1,700 - 4,500 rpm. This gives the Baleno RS a power-to-weight ratio of 106 BHP / ton and a torque-to-weight ratio of 158 Nm / ton. These are substantially higher than the regular Baleno's ratios (96 BHP & 133 Nm respectively) and about average for the faster hatchbacks in the segment. However, it should be noted that in global markets, the same 1.0L produces 110 BHP and 170 Nm of torque. In India, it has been detuned in order to help it cope with our lower octane petrol. Could also be the focus on driveability.

Start the engine and you'll hear a faint ticker from the engine bay filter into the cabin. Try as it may, the 3-cylinder motor just doesn't tick all the boxes on refinement. While at idle, a slight input to the throttle produces a distinct vibration in the front as the revvs climb up and down between 900 - 1,400 rpm. In comparison, the Baleno's 1.2L N/A petrol is silky smooth. That said, NVH levels are good by 3-cylinder standards.

Surprisingly for a fixed-geometry turbo petrol, there is minimal lag under acceleration! On the flip side, that much loved turbo kick is missing as well. There is zero drama when the turbo pumps in 1.8 Bars of boost into the engine. The power delivery is linear in nature. For enthusiasts, the engine doesn't evoke any emotions and appears rather standard-fare. That also means driveability is satisfactory, making it a practical engine to live with.

At city driving speeds, the Boosterjet motor feels reasonably refined. It responds neutrally to throttle inputs up to 2,000 rpm after which, the power begins to surge in a straight, progressive manner. While attempts have been made to keep the cabin quiet, as the revvs climb, you can clearly hear the short port intake at work. It's a likeable throaty sound. Acceleration is healthy, yet nowhere as 'explosive' as the Polo GT TSI. There is decent mid-range delivery to facilitate quick overtaking manoeuvres as you work through the long spaced gearbox. The driver will enjoy this mid-range torque & the car should offer good highway driveability. You could push 1st gear all the way up to 50 km/h, while 2nd takes you beyond 80 km/h and 3rd will see you doing around 135 km/h. Top speed is likely to be achieved in 4th gear as 5th gear serves as an overdrive. I hit her top speed of 170 km/h on the Buddh's long straight in 4th; she didn't struggle to get there. Cruiseability? 100 km/h is seen at 2,500 rpm (same as the 1.2L sibling).

The small motor revs freely up to its conservative 6,000 rpm limit, but most of the beef is delivered only up to 5,000 rpm. At high rpm, that typical 3-cylinder thrum is well controlled, but it’s very much there. What you won't enjoy is the sudden jerk and cut-off from the ECU as you bounce off the revv limiter. In comparison, the Baleno 1.2L revs to ~6,300 rpm and sounds nicer at high revs too.

The ARAI certified fuel economy is 21.1 km/l, which is 0.3 km/l lesser than the regular 1.2's.

The clutch is light and the 5-speed manual gearbox is smooth to operate with well-defined gates. It feels exactly the same as the Baleno 1.2's.

Not much has been done on the suspension front. Yes, it has been firmed up a bit, although that's because of the additional weight (and not any sporty aspirations of Maruti engineers). The weightlessness of the body, coupled with a typical Maruti suspension means it behaves just like a regular family hatchback (nope, it's no Abarth). Fast cornering on the Buddh saw too much body roll. The 195/55 R16 OEM Apollo tyres scream for traction as well - they easily squeal! While the tyre size is satisfactory, you'd do well in upgrading to grippier rubber in the after-market.

The Baleno RS shines in the braking department. The car is equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels, which make braking sharp & confidence inspiring. Triple-digit speeds are shed in no time. There is a wee bit of a nose dive though as the rear is substantially lighter and tends to twitch a little under hard braking.

To reduce friction, the 1.0L comes with a low width timing chain instead of a timing belt. Lack of a timing belt = longer change interval:


Exhaust headers are a part of the head assembly, leaving no opportunity for custom headers. If you want a free-flow exhaust, it'll have to start after this (i.e. pipes only):


Small volume leaves a lot of empty space in the engine bay. Maintenance will be easier:


A rather large engine cover for a tiny 3-cylinder motor:


ECU remains exposed in the engine bay:


Small IHI turbo pumps in 1.8 Bars of boost at full clip. Remember the idling rule with this car - related thread. Turbo means remaps will soon be available:


Intercooler is vertically mounted, next to the radiator assembly:


A closer look at the intercooler from the front air dam:


Air filter sits under the engine cover. Maruti recommends 0W-20 oil for the Baleno petrol. We've noticed this change in trend from Maruti to use thinner viscosity oil at operating temperatures for better fuel economy:


Another look at the engine without the cover:


Intake plumbing draws air from the front of the engine bay:


A small engine warrants a small battery:


Disclaimer: Maruti invited Team-BHP for the Baleno RS test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 20th March 2017 at 23:09. Reason: Adding clarity where we speak of the regular Baleno's ratios
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:40   #6
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th March 2017, 18:44   #7
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Finally the review is on!!. This review covers everything what an enthusiast or a layman needs to know and then some. Terrific attention to detail.

Any idea if the 1.4L boosterjet is also scheduled for Indian S Cross??

Regards,
Shashi

Last edited by Leoshashi : 20th March 2017 at 18:53.
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:14   #8
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Fabulously reviewed and in quick time too

Engine and driving part have been superbly elaborated and it really provides ample details. Notwithstanding the beauty of engine, I think it will be at least 1.2 L Boosterjet which can lure an enthusiast. Thanks a lot for this!
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:23   #9
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Good review. Really astonished by the attention to detail (the RS branding on mats). Normal reviews would've just said one line : Interiors are the same as the regular Baleno.

Coming back to car, basically this is Maruti's version of a sporty 'kitna deti hai' car. Good to see them moving away from that tagline.

Hope this is a success. Because then I'll get to buy a manual Polo TSI with rear disc brakes.

Last edited by The Brutailer : 20th March 2017 at 19:26.
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:27   #10
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Very detailed review and I liked the attention to detail of what's under hood .

1.8 Bar boost is interesting for a tiny 3 cylinder engine. Yes, a remap can extract more juice.. Any idea about ECU make?

Last edited by Akshay1234 : 20th March 2017 at 20:50. Reason: editing typo
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:32   #11
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

As usual a well written review from T-bhp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
These figures are substantially higher than the regular Baleno's (96 BHP & 133 Nm respectively).
The regular Baleno makes 83 BHP & 115 NM. I think the figures quoted above are those of the old Baleno.

EDIT: Just noted that those values are power to weight and torque to weight.

Last edited by deerhunter : 20th March 2017 at 19:49.
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:39   #12
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Thanks for the precise review of the RS. If I am not wrong, even in the European market the Baleno 1.0 isnt marketed as a hot hatch but a decently powered practical hatch with focus on FE and features. The proper hot hatch from the Suzuki's stable is none other than the Swift Sports that comes with a 1.6 136 bhp NA engine which does 0-100 in 8.xx seconds.

IMO Maruti should have brought the Swift Sports instead and reserved the Boosterjet 1.4 for the S-Cross.

Last edited by Waspune : 20th March 2017 at 19:47.
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:43   #13
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post

The regular Baleno makes 83 BHP & 115 NM. I think the figures quoted above are those of the old Baleno.
96bhp and 133Nm are power to weight and torque to weight ratio figures.
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Old 20th March 2017, 19:55   #14
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Thanks for the detailed review!

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
This engine will surely go mainstream in the future. The Baleno RS is a smart way of getting initial feedback & testing done by owners. This isn’t so much a performance motor as it is Maruti introducing its future-ready engine in India. Expect to see the turbo-petrol in a lot of future Marutis (including the Vitara Brezza petrol). The Boosterjet engine cut open:
I hope it does. Waiting for this engine to come out in the Ignis with a CVT! Btw that AC compressor belt seems to be really wide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
Small IHI turbo pumps in 1.8 Bars of boost at full clip. Remember the idling rule with this car - related thread. Turbo means remaps will soon be available:
1.8bar or 26PSI would be the absolute boost. Actual boost minus atmospheric would be around 11PSI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
Intercooler is vertically mounted, next to the radiator assembly:


A closer look at the intercooler from the front air dam:
Looks similar to Baleno Diesel's intercooler. May not be the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
The standard Baleno gets no variant badging. The RS breaks the trend with a badge on the right side of the hatch. RS stands for 'Road Sport'
I used to call their cosmetic only RS variants "Really Stupid"

Last edited by GTO : 21st March 2017 at 09:41. Reason: Reducing the size of image thumbnails
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Old 20th March 2017, 20:08   #15
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Default Re: Maruti Baleno RS : Official Review

Thanks for the quick review. Although general feedback is that it is nowhere close to what a hot hatch should be, good to see Maruti trying to do something in the sportier car space. First the S-Cross 1.6 and now this. Hope they continue on this path and bring in more such variants and options. Whatever the Market Leader does, the others have to respond. So maybe this can force Honda to plonk in the 1.5 into the Jazz or VW to offer the TSI in manual guise at a price cheaper than the Baleno or Ford to bring in the Ecoboost into the Figo.

Coincidently, I overheard a couple of folks in my office talking in the lift, one of them had switched to the RS since the regular Baleno had a longer waiting period. So it will definitely be a 'tatkal' route to a Baleno for those who can afford it.
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