Living with a 2018 Maruti Baleno RS

But I don’t dislike the RS, given that it’s a car everyone around me is happy to drive too.

BHPian Gaboonviper04 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I must admit, upfront, that I wasn't planning on contributing a whole lot more than some periodic experiences with the Baleno RS. Honestly, I wasn't all that attached to the car to want to have a separate thread on Team-BHP, although this is my first car ever. Don't get me wrong, it's a good car, especially for the city, and for others in the house who don't consider themselves auto enthusiasts (hey spouse!). I care for it to bits, do all the detailing myself. What I mean is that it's not my "dream car", it's a good car but not a FUN car.

But after having read many owners' threads here, and other pinned posts, I have some new-found love for the car. I'd specifically like to point to threads of Mr Narayan's Volvo XC-60, itwasntme's BMW 330i, Mr Santosh's BMW X3 30d and Mr Ganesh's BMW 330i GT among a few others. Their love and passion for their rides have given me a new perspective on vehicle ownership, and so, I'd like to have my own mini thread that I can keep updating. I know it's not going to be remotely as exciting as their experiences, but I want to give this one a shot nonetheless. I'm hoping to be a more active part of this wonderful community, and this is one of the ways that I can think of.

Forgive that long preamble, please!

Let me be one of those typical Indian car reviewers on YouTube and start with the key fob:

Quick couple of points about the key before jumping to the likes/dislikes of the RS.

- I've kept the lock/unlock siren on (which can be turned off via the MID settings). But when I want to be discrete, pressing both the lock and unlock keys simultaneously once and then quickly locking (or unlocking) disables the aural double ding.

- Pressing both the lock and unlock keys for longer than three seconds is supposed to set off the panic alarm!

- Point wise likes & dislikes of the car (summary)


  • 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 Maruti-Suzuki provided a camera of useful resolution as compared to what I’ve seen on the Venue.
  • Neutral to slightly sporty design with the false splitter and diffuser, and side skirts. The lack of sharp lines works for some people.
  • Steering is correctly weighted for city and highway driving (albeit with a caveat, see dislikes).
  • Comfortable driver and front passenger seats for short drives.
  • Easy to find a comfortable driving position with height adjustable seat and rake/reach adjustable steering.
  • Amazing legroom for the segment.
  • Really like the auto-dimming IRVM. UV resistant windows make driving at night/day painless.
  • Easy to overtake both in cities and highways. The little turbocharger really helps here. To answer the question on the keychain, the RS comes with just under 101 bhp!
  • Good projector headlights. Haven’t had to modify them in any way.
  • No major blind spots although being tall, my visibility from inside the car isn’t ideal even at the lowest seating 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 touch screen even if a bit slow to respond.


  • Overall build quality- especially the exterior.
  • The plastic on top of the dashboard can be quite reflective, especially on a sunny day.
  • Lack of lumbar support. Also, while the seats are comfortable, they're a bit on the soft side for adequate long journey support.
  • One of my biggest problems with the RS is the handling, specifically, steering stability at speeds above 110-115 kph.
  • Lack of adequate underbody protection.
  • Car not built for an enthusiast.
  • The suspension, while decent, isn’t as good as an i10/i20 in my experience. Bad road thuds can be felt in the cabin.
  • NVH, while alright in the city, is terrible at higher 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.
  • Impractical driver center armrest unless you're long-armed and sitting far back.
  • The steering doesn't center itself and that really takes the fun element away, especially on curvy roads.

Our Baleno RS is a September 2018 model, we’ve driven just over 13,000 km since. That's very little running, yes, thanks to being away from home a lot, and then Covid. Engine spec: 998 CC, variant RS. And here’s my ownership review. Hoping this is still relevant to someone out there.

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. However, I was excited about the Abarth Punto and the Volkswagen 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 that much. I consider myself an enthusiast and Maruti 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 Polo after all. But I don’t dislike the RS, given that it’s a car everyone around me is happy to drive too.

I’ve come across only one other RS in Bangalore in all this time! And I think this colour suits the RS well.

The good and bad about its features

This little car is incredibly easy to drive, especially within the city. The turbocharger kicks in around the 2000 RPM mark, and with it, overtaking is a breeze. No planning required, and the BoosterJet is quite forgiving even if you end up on a higher gear than what the situation calls for. There is turbo lag, but it isn't unexpected, is completely manageable and overtaking is easy even with a full car. The A pedal is responsive, and it's easy to be one of the first off a traffic light.

We almost always drive with the AC on, and I've never felt any lag due to that whatsoever either in town or up in the ghats; the car seems to just work with you. The 3 cylinder motor is silent, can hardly tell if it’s running at start or when idle. Get the turbo working and push the engine into higher RPMs, and there’s a noticeable growl that gets louder as you push. It isn’t anything super exciting, but it still makes me smile.

Not the neatest engine bay out there. While at it, lack of adequate protection underneath makes me nervous when driving over bad or under-construction roads. The cost cutting is unbelievable, especially from a manufacturer who knows our driving conditions well. You can see right through to the ground below:

Hey GTO, do I get brownie points for cheeky product placement?

Legroom, both at the front and the rear, is amazing. 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 aren't too many cars in this segment I can say this about. In the pictures below, the driver seat is set to my preference, and you can see the amount of room available at the back.

The gear throws are quick, short and easy. I never miss any of the shifts. The clutch is light and no complaints or knee aches in bumper-to-bumper traffic or on long journeys.

The car comes with all disc brakes, and they work well. There are times when I feel the lack of accurate feedback from the brake pedal, and I believe Shibujp mentioned something similar in his review as well.

The car comes loaded with quite a practical kit- auto-dimming IRVM, UV-cut glass (notice the glass tint in some of the images), useable dead-pedal, good reversing camera, manually height-adjustable driver seat, manually rake/reach adjustable steering, request sensors on both the front doors as well as on the boot (so useful), rear windscreen wiper, automatic headlights, touchscreen of a useable size and resolution, wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, fog lamps, an okay 6-speaker sound system, ISOFIX mounts for two rear seats, climate control, auto-locking doors, height-adjustable front seat belts, four adjustable headrests, lane change indicators, footwell lights, “to car” and “to home” guiding lights, and more.

I must credit Maruti for these as I keep reading about newer cars that don’t come with so many of these important and useful tools. I feel like there’s more car for the money despite the RS being more expensive than the regular Baleno. My father-in-law owns a Venue that doesn’t have rear wipers and an auto-dimming IRVM despite there being other buttons on it!

The car came with the FasTag sticker, and they did a good job putting it up. I like how it isn't easily visible from inside.

A very practical boot. The rear seats fold 60:40, and we can easily fit loads of plants or an MTB without removing its wheel. There’s a hook for a shopping bag and a lamp that’s rather dull; no nets though. The loading lip (yay, finally get to use that fancy car journo term) is quite large though.

Space saver tucked away underneath without eating into the boot space. There’s a little niche around the spare wheel to stow away the tools.

The throw from the projector headlamps is good, I haven’t felt the need to upgrade them. The automatic headlamps are a bit too sensitive, they turn on way before it gets dark. I mostly operate them manually when in the city.

Good ground clearance (unladen 170mm). Haven’t had any issues with the ground clearance even when fully loaded and going over Bangalore’s infamous speed breakers, although we need to be mindful of the front diffuser when navigating around ramps and kerbs.

As expected for a car of this size, the turning radius is great. Parking isn’t a problem and U-turns are fun!

Reversing camera works really well, although the guidelines are not dynamic. The resolution or feed quality is good enough for all conditions- day or night, dry or in the rain, even if the image below isn't clear. I can say that it's much better than on the Venue. There are four obstacle sensors on the rear bumper, and none at the front. When the reverse gear is engaged, the MID displays, along with aural beeps, obstacles in the following ways:

Corner sensors, if obstacles are:

  • between 18-24 inch away- three lines, short beeps at short intervals
  • between 14-18 inch away- two lines, short beeps at very short intervals
  • less than 14 inch away - one line, continuous beep

Centre sensors, if obstacles are:

  • between 24-59 in away- three lines, short beeps at long intervals
  • between 18-24 in away- three lines, short beeps at short intervals
  • between 14- 18 in away- two line, short beeps at very short intervals
  • less than 14 in away - one line, continuous beep

Of course, if the obstacles are at varying distances, then the display shows them accordingly but the buzzers work for the closest obstacles.

The reversing camera is nicely tucked away under this chrome bit:

The steering mounted stalks are the standard fare, except for the automatic headlamps and the rear wiper functions. The stalks themselves are made well, and don’t feel too cheap to touch. I really appreciate the single quick wipe you get with the “mist” mode. A gentle push up or down on the indicator stalk turns on the lane changing indicators, the duration of which is customisable via the MID- I find this really useful and surprising how many people don’t know about this feature even if their cars have it!

I’m not a fan of chrome in general and definitely when used extensively. But the little ring around the start/stop button does add to the looks.

Also notice the parking sensor button as well as the headlight adjustment knob located amidst many empty panels:

Build quality- both exterior and interior

We’ve done several long trips (Bangalore-Goa too) and we’ve picked up 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 or polishing 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.

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 major rattling yet (one or two minor rattles exist though), but the overall feel isn’t great or inviting. No complaints about how the overall cabin looks though. The darker colours are easy to maintain.

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/polishing 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).

The view from the front passenger side (notice the reflective dash):


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 otherwise. It’s a bit of a shame as the car gets to those speeds fairly effortlessly.

As a side note, 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!).

The RS suspension is tuned to be stiffer than the regular Baleno. Yet I find it to be on the soft side, and the car can feel floaty at speeds and over expansion joints, etc. Having said that, it isn’t too bad, but I do slow down over road undulations when there are others in the car.

The steering, while well made, doesn’t feel connected to the road and doesn’t provide good feedback. I hate that it doesn’t center itself, it just takes the fun away of driving on curvy roads.

Your usage pattern

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

Comments on the exterior styling & design

Personally, I’m more of a BMW fan when it comes to styling and design (and everything else!). I don’t think I’ve found any newer Maruti-Suzukis appealing really. The last cool looking Maruti was probably the Esteem for me. Having said that, the car does look cool with the rear false splitter and diffuser, and side skirts. These are the some of the distinguishing features of the RS from the regular Baleno series. The black painted alloys are unique to the RS too, and I think they look cool too.
I look at the Polo TDi parked on our street and admire its design while the clearly-better-half thinks the RS looks far better.

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

Regarding paint quality, while it looks good and I have no major 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, and I'm constantly looking for ways to better maintain the vehicle. 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 had a few stains that were 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. And those stains that remain, Meguair’s Ultimate Compound does a great job in removing them (no brand affiliation).

Panel gaps are mostly all even, and a majority of switches and panels inside, especially those in line of sight, are well put together. One issue would be the exterior wide chrome unit that houses the reversing camera- it has gaps that leads to water collecting and then slowly leaking after a wash or rains. This causes water stains and some irritation!

Dual tones on the ORVM with the indicator nicely fitted into it:

While the overall fit and finish is good, there are some gaps around the fog lamp housing.

Continue reading Gaboonviper04's review for more insights, information and BHPian comments.

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