HOLDEN BARINA RS
The RS went on sale in November priced keenly at $20,990 (auto $23,190) — Suzuki wants $25,990 for the Swift Sport. Standard features include a seven-inch infotainment screen, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and 17-inch alloys.
The performance focused Barina gets sporty, aggressive front and rear body kit. Inside the theme continues with sports leather seats embossed with RS lettering, so too the floor mats. Good use of space inside with ample rear legroom. Cheap plastics and lack of refinement let the cabin down.
The RS has a 1.4-litre turbo petrol four (103kW/200Nm), which Holden says burns 6.5L/100km of 95 RON in combined driving. The six-speed manual is fun and easy to use but the six-speed auto feels lethargic. The RS has sportier suspension with stiffened springs and shocks while the ride height is lowered 10mm. It’s Korean built but the steering is tuned for Aussie roads.
The RS’s five-star ANCAP rating comes from six airbags, disc brakes all-round (regular Barinas have rear drums), traction and electronic stability control, ABS, brake assistance and electronic brakeforce distribution. An inflation kit for punctures is standard but a full-size spare tyre is a nocost option.
Handling and grip are good and impressive for a Barina. The MacPherson strut front suspension works well but the torsion beam in the back roughens the ride. Holden hails the RS as the “new hero” of the range and “the most powerful Barina ever” but this is not a hot hatch — it’s just a very good Barina.