To car enthusiasts all over the world, the letters ‘R’ and ‘S’ mean a lot. Used individually or together, they conjure up images of performance cars –cars that are the stuff of dreams for most. Over the years, the big brands such as Ford, Skoda, Audi and Porsche have successfully taken the RS name to great heights. Calling the Baleno Booster jet, an RS, is bound to set the expectations high. But, can it deliver?
For a start, the front and rear bumpers are new. The rear bumper has a squared-off lower section which we are not so sure whether it goes well with the rest of the curved body. The mesh grille and the subtle skirting aren’t very big differentiators and they have taken the easy route and painted the standard wheels instead of giving it a sportier new one. What’s more? Only the outside of the wheels are painted black and the insides are just left silver. It costs nearly Rs.1.4 lakhs more than the regular Baleno 1.2 Alpha. When you consider the fact that this is the engine you will get, as standard, in future Maruti small cars when the emission norms are in place, it is a lot.
The engine in the RS is a 1.0 litre 3 cylinder turbo petrol. It uses direct injection at 200bar, has a built-in exhaust manifold, features larger radiator and oil cooling for the pistons. While it makes 111bhp abroad, the Indian car has been detuned to 102bhp to cope with 91 octane fuel. The torque stands at 150 Nm from 170 Nm that means there is a loss of 20NM.On top of that, the Baleno RS weighs almost 60kgs more than the 1.2 petrol, which is partly down to the extra ancillaries like the turbo, intercooler etc. It is also partially due to the extra strengthening that the chassis gets, which is very well indeed. But, do the extra weight and detuned output leave you disappointed?
The RS may be heavier than the regular Baleno, but it still only weighs 950kg. In addition to that, the engine is a willing performer considering its diminutive size. It only takes 10.31 seconds to reach up to 100 from 0 that implies that it is over two seconds faster than the time taken by the Baleno 1.2 K series- 12.58 seconds. It also feels faster thanks to well thought out gearing system. There is a good shove in the back and performance is midway between a Punto Abarth and a Polo GT TSI both of which did 9.42 seconds and 11.28 seconds in our earlier speed tests respectively. It is a lot easier to live with, in the city, thanks to a light clutch and fairly easy shift action. There is a good amount of power right from 1700rpm all the way to the limiter at 6000rpm.