Featuring the same 1.4-litre, 103kW/200Nm petrol engine as the locally-made Holden Cruze, Barina RS comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission with sports-oriented gear ratios, or an optional six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select.
The standard equipment inventory is extensive and, with its app-enabled Holden MyLink system, Holden is claiming best-in-class technology. There’s plenty of style – such as sports front and rear fascias, sports seats, alloy pedals and flat-bottomed steering wheel – but Holden has also endowed the RS with some substance, too.
The electric power steering calibration, tailored here in Australia, has a quick ratio for a more reactive and sportier drive and the ride height has been lowered, body stiffened and suspension tuned to improve the handling. The 230mm rear drum brakes, as on the rest of the Barina range, have been replaced by 268mm discs.
The result is a warm, rather than hot, hatch, and one not of the calibre of Ford’s pocket rocket Fiesta ST. But then, the RS is some $6000 cheaper (with manual gearbox).
The only gripes we had about its driveability are the ride (too jittery at low speed) and auto’s propensity to hold a higher gear than necessary. Go the manual six-speed and you would not only get a better drive, but save $2200 to boot.