Global car warm­ing

Aus­tralian-tweaked Korean hatch gets a turbo and a com­pelling price

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@carsguide.com.au

A HOT price for a warm hatch that han­dles should bring the Ba­rina RS into light car con­tention.

The Holden is now the cheap­est “per­for­mance” car in the field. It’s no Fi­esta ST but at $5000 cheaper, that can’t be ex­pected.

The RS brings more mas­cu­line looks and mus­cle­dup han­dling to the Ba­rina range and that’s bound to win buy­ers.

VALUE

A$20,990 sticker price is so sharp Holden has had to trim prices on the rest of the Ba­rina range by $800-$1000.

The flag­ship hatch rolls on unique 17-inch al­loys.

A thicker RS-badged steer­ing wheel graces in the in­te­rior along with al­loy ped­als and more sup­port­ive seats than the stan­dard car. Like the CDX Ba­rina, the RS is fit­ted with the seven-inch touch­screen and MyLink in­ter­net-based in­fo­tain­ment suite.

The six-speed auto adds $2200. Carsguide didn’t get to test it but the ra­tios sug­gest it should come close to the man­ual for out­right pace.

The clos­est ri­val on price and per­for­mance is the Suzuki Swift Sport at $23,990. The Swift is, well, swifter but lacks the edgy in­te­rior and ex­te­rior looks of the Holden.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The 1.4-litre turbo four-cylin­der en­gine is a trans­plant fromthe Cruze and matched to six-speed man­ual or auto trans­mis­sions. It’s warm rather than hot, with out­puts of 100kW and 200Nm.

Lo­cal cal­i­bra­tion work has ad­justed the elec­tric power steer­ing and there are discs on all four cor­ners in place of the rear drum brakes on reg­u­lar Bari­nas.

DE­SIGN

The warm hatch process is rel­a­tively sim­ple: add a body kit and a big­ger (or blown) en­gine and hook buy­ers on looks and per­for­mance. The Ba­rina RS wins on both counts— rel­a­tive to its more se­date sib­lings.

Newfront and rear bumpers and a rear spoiler help theRS stand out, par­tic­u­larly in the pre­mium OrangeR ock hero paint scheme.

In­side there’s a flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel and sup­port­ive sports seats with fake leather and mi­crofi­bre suede-feel side in­serts. The in­stru­ment panel also has an RS badge to re­mind buy­ers they’ve bought a bet­ter car than just a Ba­rina

SAFETY

Six airbags pro­vides plenty of cov­er­age in a Ba­rina.

ANCAP rates it a five-star car, with a com­bined score of 35.43/37.

It lost a point for not hav­ing rear seat­belt re­minder lights on the dash but per­formed well in all crash tests.

ANCAP notes leg and chest pro­tec­tion for both front pas­sen­gers was “ac­cept­able” in the frontal off­set crash test.

A con­se­quence of the Ba­rina be­ing a rel­a­tively heavy car is it feels planted on the road and all-round disc brakes with a full suite of ABS-ini­ti­ated soft­ware can’t hurt.

DRIV­ING

Carsguide tested the man­ual. We’d love to see Holden’s 1.6litre turbo en­gine in this car— the chas­sis could cer­tainly cope with it— some­thing would turn this hatch’s heat right up.

That’s not to dis­par­age the way it drives. The Con­ti­nen­tal tyres give good grip in the wet or dry and the steer­ing has been tight­ened up, largely re­mov­ing the dead feel just off cen­tre.

Wind the lock on and the Ba­rina doesn’t feel front-heavy. It will un­der­steer but only at a pace where com­mon sense should have pre­vailed me­tres be­fore.

Over­seas tests put the 0-100km/h sprint at just on eight sec­onds and that’s about right ac­cord­ing to Carsguide’s stop­watch. Hit the ac­cel­er­a­tor

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