Global car warming
Australian-tweaked Korean hatch gets a turbo and a compelling price
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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