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The three Marutis that will be worth the wait

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 17, 2018

Baleno RS

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Suzuki Ignis

The company’s launch calendar this year will likely turn out to be one of the biggest. Here are the three cars to look out for before 2017 arrives

Maruti Suzuki’s attempt to create a new, parallel line of premium dealerships called NEXA might have met with scepticism when the first few outlets rolled out the red carpet. But the doubts, if any, have been laid to rest thanks to the performance of the two NEXA models, particularly the premium hatchback Baleno.

It is not clear whether Maruti will add to the NEXA’s model range from out of the three cars that are due out later this year. Maruti is being choosy and cautious about adding to the NEXA range. But, these are going to be significant additions to the company’s already large portfolio. These three cars will go on to add even greater depth to its portfolio and improve the choice available for Maruti’s customers.

The three models we are talking about are the Suzuki Ignis, the Baleno RS and the Vitara Brezza petrol and Automatic models. The new Ignis could well be the third model to be sold exclusively through the exclusive channel. And while the Baleno RS will most definitely join the existing variants under the NEXA spotlight, the Vitara Brezza petrol and auto will most definitely not be sold through these outlets.

Suzuki Ignis

We have had a taste of the Suzuki Ignis and its unique design at the Auto Expo earlier this year. The Ignis will be one of the most awaited cars in the sub-4-metre category this year. Just about 3.7 metres long, the Ignis manages to visually seem like a much larger car thanks to its unique design.

Large headlamps, a raised stance, chunky fenders and body cladding, and a parallel roofline give it the looks of an ultra compact sports utility vehicle. In fact, Suzuki calls it an urban compact crossover meant for use in the city. Viewed from the side and up close, the Ignis is more like a hatchback. Though, its petite proportions mean that the space available in the cabin is not in the same league as the Vitara Brezza or the even larger Hyundai Creta. But thanks to the design’s ingenuity, the curved rear tailgate manages to liberate some extra space in the boot.

Earlier this month, Suzuki debuted the Ignis at an international show in Indonesia, prior to its launch. The car sported a 3-cylinder, 1,250cc petrol engine delivering peak power of 90PS and mated to a 5-speed transmission. The specs sheet also mentions a boot volume of 258 litres. The India-spec Ignis is likely to be offered first with the 1.2-litre petrol that is already a Maruti staple. The car has also been showcased with an AMT (automated manual transmission), which could make it here too.

Baleno RS

To further the Baleno’s positioning as a premium hot hatch, Maruti Suzuki has been hinting about the possibility of an RS version on it right from the time the car was launched last year. The obvious changes you can think of in the RS variant of any hot hatch, in the Indian context, would probably be a tweaked, retuned engine delivering ten horses more and an awkwardly positioned rear spoiler. But, the Baleno RS promises to deliver much more.

The heart of the Baleno RS will be a brand new 1.0-litre BoosterJet engine that will replace the K12 (1.2-litre VVT) in the current regular Baleno. The new 998c engine will be a three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and turbocharging and be capable of delivering over 110hp of peak power compared to the regular Baleno’s 83hp. Peak torque should also get a big boost, with an almost 50 per cent jump over the regular Baleno’s 115Nm. Further, a lot more of the torque will be available in the lower rev bands in the new RS variant.

The interesting bit about the engine could well turn out to be its fuel efficiency, which despite its higher power and torque may well be equal to or more than the current Baleno’s K12.

The final production version of the Baleno RS will be based on the RS Concept that Maruti Suzuki showcased at the Auto Expo in February this year.

A lot more additions to the standard kit can be expected including safety features. The standard 1.2L petrol and the 1.3L diesel will continue to be available. The RS variant’s cabin will also get premium additions that help deliver on its sporty credentials. Exterior changes will include new colours that identify the exclusivity of the RS, and a contrast roof or racing body stripe treatment is certainly expected.

In keeping with its positioning as a driver-oriented hot hatch, the Baleno RS will most likely get a 5-speed manual gearbox at the time of launch, with the possibility of a CVT gearbox joining the team later.

Vitara Brezza Petrol

The Vitara Brezza has become quite a blockbuster for Maruti, despite the diesel engine only option and despite the long waiting period. Maruti Suzuki engineers have been waiting for an appropriate petrol engine for this compact sports utility vehicle. With rumours still floating around that the existing 1.2-litre K12 engine may yet be in contention, the stronger likelihood is the new 1.0-litre BoosterJet engine in the same state of tune as will be offered in the Baleno RS.

The 300 kgs higher weight of the Vitara Brezza compared to the regular Baleno will need the higher tractability that BoosterJet petrol engine will offer.

The 1.3-litre diesel engine (called the DDiS 200) in the current Vitara Brezza was a natural choice for the weight and the vehicle type. The petrol Vitara Brezza’s powertrain will include the 5-speed manual transmission.

Published on August 18, 2016

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