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Driven: Sporty Holden Barina RS arrives

Sporty: Holden’s warmed-up Barina gets a splash of performance enhancing modifications including a turbo and tuned chassis.

Holden skews towards younger buyers with $20,990 Swift Sport-rivaling Barina RS


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14 Nov 2013

Holden has topped off its light-sized hatchback range with the hottest Barina to date, breaking the triple-figure kilowatt barrier with the 103kW/200Nm turbocharged Barina RS priced at $20,990 plus on-road costs.

Sporting bigger 17-inch alloy wheels, interior and exterior styling tweaks, a 1.4-litre iTi turbocharged four-cylinder engine and sitting 10mm lower than the standard Barina, the RS takes the fight to its warm-hatch competitors – the Suzuki Swift ($23,990), Kia Rio SLi ($19,990) and the Ford Fiesta Sport ($20,525).

At the same time, Holden plans to lure a greater proportion of male buyers into the Barina range via its sporty little number, particularly those belonging to a younger demographic.

While its power output might not put it in true hot-hatch territory, the fettled hatch offers a handy 18kW and 45Nm over its 85kW/155Nm siblings, while returning fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100km, or 0.2L/100km more than the regular versions.

Holden is not laying claims to a zero to 100kmh dash, but testing of the Chevrolet Sonic RS in the US, which is almost identical to our Barina, managed a time of circa eight seconds.

The base variant comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, but automatic transmission fans can opt for a self-shifter with the same number of gears for an extra $2200. Manual shifting of automatic gears is possible with the stick-mounted selector only, as no steering-wheel paddles are available.

The Austrian-sourced 1.4-litre iTi engine is the same found under the bonnet of the locally-built Cruze and uses a single manifold-integrated turbo, 16 valves driven by twin variable camshafts and reinforced bottom-end components.

To match the additional power, Holden has re-tuned the Barina chassis with 10mm lowered/15 per cent stiffer springs, a beefy 21mm front anti-roll bar, uprated dampers and quicker electric power-steering specifically tuned for Australian conditions.

Additional under-body bracing has also been added to stiffen the Barina RS chassis and add to the sports-focused ride.

The tyres worn by the unique 17-inch alloy wheel were also selected especially for the challenges thrown up by the Australian environment.

Hiding behind the bigger wheels are all-round disc-brakes measuring 276mm with venting at the front, and 268mm solid rotors at the back-end replace the standard fitment drums on all other variants.

Holden is pitching the sporty Barina at a more youthful end of the market and has incorporated entertainment and communication focused applications in to the MyLink on-board information and entertainment system.

Smartphone connectable music apps Pandora and Stitcher are installed as standard, TuneIn radio adds to the entertainment options and BringGo navigation completes the included software.

Bluetooth and USB connectivity is incorporated and all applications are accessed through the dash-mounted seven-inch touch-screen which is highlighted by gloss-black dash trims unique to the flagship Barina.

Other interior modifications set the RS apart form its lesser variants with heated leather front sports seats held together with red thread, a matching chunky leather sport steering-wheel and gear-knob.

A smattering of RS badges adorn the steering-wheel, floor mats, seats tachometer and boot-lid.

Standard features such as cruise control, air-conditioning and the futuristic motorbike style cluster are carried over from the rest of the range.

Outside the Barina RS new front and rear fascias house unique fog-lamps, while the five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels are tucked further in to the wheel-arches thanks to the stiffer and 10mm lowered suspension.

For those customers wanting to stand out even further, the Barina RS is available in a new ‘Orange Rock’ metallic paint colour as a $550 option, which is not available for lesser variants.

Also included in the base price are reverse parking sensors, on-board trip-computer and extra storage in the form of an under-seat cubby and roof-mounted sunglasses case.

The Barina RS shares the ANCAP five-star safety rating of the whole range thanks to six-airbags, ESC, traction control, ABS, EBD, child-seat anchor points and emergency brake lights, which flash under very heavy braking.

The introduction of the new top-end Barina is accompanied by a reduction in pricing of the complete Barina range, with a price chop of between $800 and $1000 across the board available from December 1.

Holden general manager of marketing communications Teresa Basile said that with its combination of edgy styling, in-car technology and engaging driving experience, RS would continue to extend Barina’s appeal to a broader audience.

“Holden Barina has been a popular choice for light car buyers for over 28 years.

“The addition of the RS model will further extend the appeal of Barina to buyers looking for better driving performance from a light car, and priced from just $20,990, it represents great value at this competitive end of the market,” she said.

The first examples of Holden’s warmed-up Barina will begin arriving at dealerships at the end of this month.

2013 Holden Barina pricing*
CD $14,990 (-$1000)
CD (a) $17,190 (-$800)
CDX (a) $19,690 (-$800)
RS $20,990
RS (a) $23,190
*Excludes on-road costs.

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