Maruti-Suzuki Baleno RS with 'Boosterjet' engine spotted testing in Chennai

With more than 100,000 units sold in just over a year since launch, the Baleno has been a runaway success for Maruti-Suzuki in India. In fact, production constraints at the Gurgaon plant and export commitments strictly restricted the number of units that could be sold in the domestic market. Let's not forget India is the manufacturing hub for the Baleno with Maruti-Suzuki exporting the hatchback to global markets including Japan and Europe.

The success of Volkswagen's GT twins opened up the performance hatchback segment in India with Fiat following suit with the powerful Punto Abarth. Maruti-Suzuki's intentions to offer one became apparent at the 2016 Auto Expo in New Delhi when the Baleno RS Concept made its debut. Testing on public roads started soon afterwards.

Spotted testing in Chennai yesterday, it appears Maruti-Suzuki is not done with the testing schedules of the Baleno RS yet. Slated for launch before end of the year, this car would be the launch pad for Suzuki's 'Boosterjet' engine in the Indian market. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection mill is already on offer in the Baleno globally where it generates 110 horsepower and 160 Nm of torque. In comparison, the existing 1.2-liter petrol engine generates 83 horsepower and 115 Nm of torque from its four cylinders. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and Baleno's lightweight chassis, the RS is expected to be a genuine performance hatchback unlike the decked-out limited-edition RS that was offered in the Swift sometime back.

While Maruti-Suzuki does not offer the Baleno in black now, the Baleno RS is expected to be offered in one, similar to the car being tested. Additionally, it could also get visual add-ons like a different grille pattern, more muscular front and rear bumpers and subtle skirting all around to differentiate itself from the regular Balenos. The interiors are also expected to get subtle visual embellishments along with a few additional features.

When it goes on sale, expect the Baleno RS to be priced at a premium over the regular variants. Given that Maruti-Suzuki surprised us with competitive pricing across the existing Baleno range, shall we expect the same with the Baleno RS as well? Let's wait and watch.

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