Is the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS, that costs Rs 8.38 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), priced right? We answer the big question.
Maruti Suzuki entered the hot-hatch segment in India this year with the Baleno RS. At Rs 8.38 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Baleno RS is priced Rs 1.09 lakh higher than the similarly equipped Baleno Alpha and about Rs 80,000 less than the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. The big question then is, is the premium that Maruti Suzuki is charging over the standard Baleno justified? And, should you put your money on the Baleno RS when you have a dual-clutch equipped Polo GT TSI in proximity? Let's unriddle this...
Before comparing the performance and specs with the Polo GT TSI, let's first see what the RS has in store compared to the standard Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Cosmetic changes include revised front and rear bumpers, and a new grille. On the equipment list, the rear disc brakes are something you get additional with the RS version. But the big mechanical difference is the 1.0-litre, direct injection, Boosterjet engine that makes 102PS of maximum power. There's another thing that's different, and that's the transmission, although Maruti Suzuki hasn't been vocal about it. The transmission is equipped to withstand higher torque compared to the 5-speed manual unit of the standard Baleno. Nevertheless, it's the additional power that you feel, which, since we have driven it now, makes a big difference in the way the car moves.
Coming back to the big question then, is the Rs 1.09 lakh over the Baleno Alpha justified? While an enthusiast would be pleased with the 1.0-litre engine of the RS and its manual transmission, the less powerful Baleno with the option of an automatic transmission (at Rs 8.34 lakh) makes a lot of sense for most people. So, the premium that you pay for the Baleno RS only makes this car more exclusive. That is probably what the manufacturer wants to state here.
The other side of the coin is, how does it fare against the competition? Compared to the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, the Baleno doesn’t command the same level of premiumness, and the Polo also feels more powerful of the two. However, Baleno RS has some crucial factors going its way, the first being a manual transmission, which gives you more command on the car, and the other is the Maruti Suzuki badge. The company says the owning the Baleno RS will be nearly as easy on the pocket as the standard Baleno. There is the obvious peace of mind associated with a simple manual transmission and the Maruti badge also weighs in Baleno RS' favour. The Maruti factor will also ensure that you get a better price for your used Baleno RS when you're done with it. All these factors together make the Baleno RS a more rounded package compared to the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Finally, considering that the Baleno RS caters to a niche segment, Maruti has priced it at a bit of a premium. We wish the RS had a better set of tyres and some interior updates to distinguish it from the standard Baleno and, that would have helped the RS justify its Rs 8.38 lakh tag easily. While we think the Baleno RS makes for a very exciting hatchback that can be a sensible everyday car for many, we wish it was priced lower, by Rs 30,000-40,000, to be a value offering.
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