The countrys largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki is gearing up to launch its first-ever hot hatch, the Baleno RS, on March 3, 2017. News has now surfaced that the Japanese car firm has started accepting online bookings for the performance-driven Baleno at a refundable amount of Rs 11,000. This will be the second new car launch of the year for the company after the Ignis in January 2017.
We know that Maruti Suzuki likes to unravel each of its new offerings bit-by-bit, and the build-up for the launch of the Baleno RS has been equally tantalising. The company recently took the wraps off the main talking point of its hot hatch, the 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine. Its combustion chamber has a three-cylinder configuration and is tuned to produce 100PS of power and 150Nm of torque. That equates to a rise in power by 16PS and 35Nm compared to output of the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine in the standard Baleno. Also, the RS will be available only in the petrol avatar unlike the regular Baleno, which is available with a 1.3-litre diesel engine as well that puts out 75PS/190Nm.
However, the story doesn't end there. The Baleno RS will compete with the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and the Fiat Abarth Punto. While the German offering has a slightly more powerful engine (105PS/175Nm) and comes mated to a spectacular seven-speed DSG auto box, the Italian hatchback is way ahead of all its main competitors in the segment (147PS/212Nm). Outright power does make a difference, but so does a statistic called power-to-weight ratio. If you'd like to work out the math, head over to our spec-comparo (including the Ford Figo diesel) that simplifies everything for you.
Price-wise, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is liklely to undercut all its main rivals, based simply on the heavy localisation of parts. We expect the price-tag to be around the Rs 9 lakh mark.
The Baleno RS is an exciting product and we do hope it succeeds. Who knows it could spawn hot hatches from other carmakers as well such as Ford which may then consider launching a performance-oriented variant of the Figo, powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine! It's all wishful thinking for now but do let us know your thoughts on this in comments below: Do you think India needs more such affordable hot hatches?
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