3 year review of a Maruti Baleno RS

In the end, it’s good to see MS experiment with an “RS badge” and I hope they continue to and come up with some actually inspiring engine specs that appeal to people like me. They have a huge market share and I think they should be able to play around comfortably.

BHPian Gaboonviper04 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.


  • Easy to drive whether the driver is an enthusiast or not. Probably the biggest advantage of the car.
  • Right size for city use, easy to park especially with the great reversing camera. I’m glad MS provided a camera of useful resolution as compared to what I’ve seen on the Venue.
  • Neutral to slightly sporty design, the lack of sharp lines works for some people.
  • Steering is correctly weighted for city and highway driving (with a caveat, see dislikes).
  • Comfortable driver and front passenger seats. Easy to find a comfortable driving position.
  • Amazing legroom. I’m 6’4” and I have a bit of a laid-back driving position, yet a tall person can easily sit behind the driver’s seat. There won’t be too many cars in this segment where I can say this.
  • Really like the auto-dimming IRVM. UV resistant windows make driving at night/day painless.
  • Easy to overtake both in cities and highways. The turbocharger really helps here.
  • Good headlights. Haven’t had to modify them in any way.
  • No major blindspots. Although being tall, my visibility from inside the car isn’t ideal even at the lowest seat position. The IRVM does block my view a little and I find myself ducking to keep an eye on traffic lights, etc. But this is less of a problem on highways.
  • Hassle-free service experience with Nexa. Zero problems thus far, and they’ve been very friendly too. The car gets cleaned thoroughly during service.
  • Very usable boot.
  • Very good AC.
  • Good ICE and touchscreen even if a bit slow to respond.


  • Overall build quality- both exterior and interior.
  • The plastic on top of the dashboard can be quite reflective, especially on a sunny day.
  • Lack of lumbar support.
  • One of my biggest problems with the RS is the handling, specifically, steering stability at speeds above 110 kph.
  • Lack of any sort of underbody protection.
  • Car not built for an enthusiast.
  • The suspension, while decent, isn’t as good or soft as an i10/i20 in my experience.
  • NVH, while alright in the city, is not great at highway speeds.
  • I’m not a big fan of the curvy design of the RS. I like sharp lines. The rear looks good, but I don’t like the front end design.
  • Miss auto-sensing wipers.
  • Mostly useless driver center armrest unless you're tall and sitting far back.

Our Baleno RS is a 2018 model, we’ve driven about 16,000 km since (only, yes!). Engine spec: 998 CC, variant RS. And here’s my ownership review. Hoping this is still relevant to someone.

All the alternatives that were considered, and why you zeroed in on this particular car

Well, this car was gifted to us post wedding, and we weren’t party to the decision, unfortunately. So, I don’t have useful points to make here. Although, I was, and still am excited about the Abarth Punto and the VW GTI. These would have been my considerations given that at that point in life, I was looking for a hatchback. I must admit that a Maruti was never on any list, personally for me. No Maruti hate here, I don’t really care about brands all that much. I consider myself an enthusiast and MS has never had a car that crossed my mind in terms of performance or looks. I might have ignored the scandals and gone with a VW after all. But I don’t dislike the RS, given that it’s a car everyone around me is happy to drive too.

The good and bad about its features

I’ve mentioned the features that are good about the RS, and I believe those convey what I like sufficiently even in summary form. I’d like to expand on a few dislikes if I may:

Build quality - both exterior and interior. We’ve done several long trips and we’ve picked up quite a few small but noticeable dents due to stones off the road. No, these are not because we were tailing a laden truck. Our highways are littered with debris, unfortunately.

The exterior sheet metal is easy to bend in certain areas with minimal hand pressure (roof, doors, bonnet). You can feel this even while wiping the car after a wash. I have a slightly noticeable dent on the front of the bonnet after parking in a public space. My guess for the cause of this dent is that somebody leaned against or sat on this part of the bonnet, as the dent slightly resembles the shape of someone’s rear (!). I often see people doing this in public parking spaces, and more often than that, when parked close to a tea stall and may even be the folks who handle parking tickets (and their friends who hang around).

In fact, the morning after we first got the car home, my dad (who is no automobile expert by any stretch) noticed that they've used really thin sheet metal on the exterior. Of all cars I've personally come across close enough to “feel” the sheet metal, this is by far the flimsiest. I think it's as or more flimsy than an Alto. I'm not suggesting that it is then less safe than other cars, but I don't find it surprising that it's one of the lightest cars in the segment. Initially every dent or scratch would bother me, but now they don't matter as much as there's not a whole lot I can do about it.

I don’t expect the interior plastic to be premium in this price point, and given the brand, but I wish they had used slightly better material. I haven’t noticed any rattling yet, but the overall feel isn’t great or inviting. No complaints about how the overall cabin looks though.

The plastic used on top of the dashboard can be quite reflective, especially on a sunny day. This is most noticeable soon after service or any detail/coating work. And I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. On long drives, use of sunglasses is recommended to prevent headaches due to the reflected light coming off the plastic as well as the inside of the windshield. While the material isn’t glossy per se, I have seen better less-reflective plastic in other cars (Venue, i20, Vento for example).

I’d appreciate some form of lumbar support during long drives (any good recommendations?).

One of my biggest problems with the RS is the handling, specifically, steering at speeds above 110 kph. As soon as you hit 110-115, there’s a drastic difference in the steering - it becomes too light and remains so at these speeds. You can almost predict the exact speed at which this happens. While I never drive at these speeds in any car for too long, there are sections of certain highways where doing 120 kph feels fine, but in the RS, I need to have a steady hold of the wheel to maintain ~120. And this change in handling or ride quality is felt by anyone in the car regardless of where they’re seated. This is the only car that I’ve ever driven that has this issue. Very quickly, I get the speeds back down to <110kph as it isn’t the most comfortable feeling. It’s a bit of a shame as the car gets to those speeds fairly effortlessly. On our last trip, we had a few Altrozs overtake us while we were doing a hundred, and that’s when I noticed Tata’s great design choices with it (I’m happy for you, Tata. For that and your paint job!).

Your usage pattern

We don’t use the car for daily trips, thanks to work-from-home and having a two-wheeler. So, our use would be weekly short trips in the city and longer trips when travelling.

Comments on the exterior styling & design

I’m more of a BMW fan (even Hyundai actually) when it comes to styling and design. I don’t think I’ve found any newer MS appealing really. The last cool looking MS was probably the Esteem for me.

Overall build quality, fit & finish, paint quality and panel gaps

Regarding paint quality, while it looks good and I have no problems with the finish, I think the exterior is rather prone to scratches. Every time I park in the city, I end up with a few minute scratches that reveal the metal underneath. On one occasion, a friend who had parked next to us opened their door and made contact with our door panel, in a way I’d describe as softly, but that still left a tiny dent with some paint missing.

I'm one of those who likes to keep the car clean and shining. But one thing I noticed about the paint is that some bird droppings leave a permanent stain. Not all, but some that I think are more acidic or reactive than others (bats, for example). Cars (such as a Venue) that receive a similar dose of bird poop don't seem to have these stains. I could be wrong here, but this is what I've noticed. Our roof has a few stains that are visible from certain angles. Most people won't notice though. My solution has been to wash the droppings away as soon as possible, but of course, this can’t always be done.

Driving position, ergonomics, controls & MID

Ideal driving position is easy to attain, even for a tall driver, thanks to the fully adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable seats. All buttons are easily accessible, especially the AC controls. As a passenger, I wish there was a volume control knob, it's a pain to use the touch screen for this. Of course, there are controls for this on the steering, as well a helpful mute button, but as a passenger, it should be easier. I like cars that have physical knobs for essential media controls.

While the front two seats are comfortable, I don’t find the seats at the back to be as comfortable on long trips. No complaints about legroom or headroom here, but the rear seat design could have been better in terms of support, especially for long-legged folks. On long trips, you'll see people at the back start to move around after a while.

The MID is nice and crisp, legible in all weather and light. I like the colours and design of it (see image). The information is good enough but I almost never use the torque/power graphic as I think it's rather gimmicky than useful.

There are sufficient storage spaces as well as USB charging options in the car. No issues there. I like the lead-to-car or home and auto headlights, puddle lamps in the doors - very practical.

Engine performance & driveability in the city

The combination of the turbocharger and friendly steering makes driving this car a breeze in the city. Highway performance is alright too, apart from the issue I’ve mentioned earlier in the post. The turbo lag is noticeable, but given the specs, I don’t find it surprising. I must say that the lag is no where inhibitive, and overtaking is very easy, either in the city or on the highways, even with a full car and AC blasting. There are times when the turbo kicks in where something in me anticipates a little pushing back of the head, a bit of a palpable surge, but that never comes.
The gear shifts are easy, no problems there too.

Overall NVH levels (including engine, wind & road noise)

Listening to good music on drives of any length is integral to me. During city driving, the bass-leaning speakers are sufficient and you can cut out some of the traffic noise around you. On highways, I really wish NVH levels were better. Road and wind noise do creep in, to the extent that music isn’t really enjoyable after a point. On badly finished roads, it only gets worse, and don’t expect to catch any subtle tones in your collection. I’m not the type who just cranks up the volume, so there’s that.

On a related note, the USB connectivity (for Android Auto) can be unreliable every now and then. I’ve tried different cables that are highly rated but now and then, it gets disconnected. I find this issue only with Android based phones and never on an iPhone. So, I’m guessing it has something to do with the quality of connection. I’ve spoken to service folks but haven’t been able to fix this. With a good quality cable, the likelihood of a disconnection is less but not eliminated entirely. I’b be happy to switch to wireless AA if it becomes available on the RS .

Fuel efficiency: City and Highway

In city, we get an average of 11-12 km/l with the AC on almost always. On highways, we’ve seen around 15-16 km/l.

In the end, it’s good to see MS experiment with an “RS badge” and I hope they continue to and come up with some actually inspiring engine specs that appeal to people like me. They have a huge market share and I think they should be able to play around comfortably. And I also hope that they improve their build quality and material choices; make people feel like they’re driving well-built cars that are safe too.

There we go. Hopefully I haven't missed anything major. Feel free to ask specific questions if anyone still has any about this car!

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