Baleno wants to beat the Punto Abarth/VW Polo GT – Here’s how

The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is a hot seller already, what with the premium hatchback dislodging the Hyundai Elite i20 from its top perch. Why, even Swift buyers, who wouldn’t buy anything else from the Swift, are flocking towards the Baleno. The premium hatchback’s light build, spacious, feature filled interiors and sharp pricing has made it a favourite among family car buyers. But Maruti clearly isn’t satisfied. India’s largest car maker, known for its frugal budget hatchbacks, wants to make a dent in hot hatchback territory. And here’s how Maruti will take on the Fiat Punto Abarth and VW Polo GT TSI. The automaker has started benchmarking the Baleno BoosterJet against the Polo and Punto.

Baleno Sport

[Render courtesy TheophilusChin]

The Baleno is a world car, and apart from the 1.2 liter K-Series petrol engine that it’s offered with in India, it has a much more powerful petrol. Yes, we’re talking about the 1 liter-3 cylinder turbocharged BoosterJet petrol engine. This motor makes 110 Bhp-170 Nm, and is available with two transmission options – a 5 speed manual and a 6 speed automatic. For India, the 5 speed manual is likely to be fitted. Well, the turbo petrol engine-manual gearbox combination is exactly what Maruti Suzuki is already testing on Indian roads. The launch of the Baleno BoosterJet is expected to happen in mid/late 2016. So, how does the Baleno become a hot hatch capable of beating the Punto Abarth and Polo GT?

[Spyshots courtesy TheAutomotiveIndia]

Well, it’s all in the kerb weight. The Baleno is the lightest premium hatchback in the country, and even lighter than the Swift, a car that’s much smaller. Well, some motoring magazines have already tested the Baleno in the UK, and the kerb weights mentioned in the test reports peg the car at 905 kilograms. This gives the car a power to weight ratio of 121.5 Bhp/ton. Torque to weight is very good too, at 188 Nm/ton.

How do the Polo GT and the Punto Abarth compare?

Volkswagen Polo GT TSI

Both cars are heavier. The Polo GT TSI tips scales at 1,109 Kgs, while the Punto is much more heavier, at 1,230 Kgs. The power-to-weight ratio of the Polo GT is 92.87 Bhp/ton, while that of the Punto Abarth is 117.88 Bhp/ton. Torque-to-weight ratios of both cars are 157.79 Nm/ton and 172.35 Nm/ton respectively. The Baleno is clearly the winner, on paper at least. This is perhaps why Maruti is aiming straight for the Punto and Polo hot hatches.

Fiat Punto Abarth

Now, the Baleno isn’t really known for its driving dynamics. It’s closer to a Polo than a Punto in terms of the suspension set up and steering feel. The Punto Abarth is in a different league altogether,what with a fast, hydraulic power steering and a suspension set up that’s simply beautiful. Will Maruti’s engineers manage to make the Baleno a sharper handler? If they do, enthusiasts in India stand to gain the most.