The Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS and Fiat Abarth Punto fit the bill as mass-market performance hatchbacks. The Baleno RS came as a turbocharged breath of fresh air from a carmaker that’s synonymous with kpl rather than kph. Sure, Suzuki’s 1.0-litre, three-pot, Boosterjet turbo-petrol has lost a few horses in its journey to India (versions abroad make 9hp and 20Nm more), but with 102hp and 150Nm the RS’ engine is still a lot livelier than the standard 1.2 petrol. And remember, the RS is a light car that tips the scales at just 950kg. The Abarth Punto is about 250kg heavier but it’s no lightweight in the engine department. Its 1.4 turbo-petrol is good for 145hp and 212Nm, which means the Abarth still has the numbers on its side.
The Abarth takes off from the start line with far more gusto and steadily pulls away from the Baleno RS. We can hear the RS’ three-cylinder engine buzzing away, giving its all, but at the end it’s no match for the Abarth’s tidal wave of power. There’s over a second between the two cars at the quarter mile, with the Abarth and Baleno RS registering times of 16.324sec and 17.367sec, respectively. Hatchbacks for petrolheads these may be, but what’s become very clear is that they have very different ‘heat signatures’. One is a warm hatch. The other? A bona fide hot hatch.
|Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS||Fiat Abarth Punto|
|Kerb weight ||950kg||1198kg|
|1/4 mile time ||17.367s||16.324s|
|Speed trap ||130.03kph||140.49kph|