Holden Barina RS test drive – hotter than stock but not quite a hot-hatch

Beep beep Barina! Who can forget those annoying early 90’s commercials? The “Holden” Barina has been a perennial Aussie favourite since the mid 80’s. Over the years sourced from Suzuki, Opel and even Daewoo. But now it has an RS badge, and a turbo. But still that pathetic beep beep horn.

Holden Barina RS

Holden Barina RS

The 10 Minute Test Drive.

With an upright, flat backed stance and motorcycle inspired headlamps the current Holden Barina looks edgy enough. But the RS badge scores you bigger wheels, a sporty looking front and rear end, rear spoiler and of course sports suspension.

Holden Barina RS

Holden Barina RS

There are lots of leathery bits too, like the gear shifter, steering wheel and even the seats. Holden’s MyLink screen sits front and centre in all its 7” colourful glory and with embedded apps today’s tech savvy, connected kids have been looked after.

The instrument cluster looks like something from a treadmill with a huge digital speedo readout and calorie / BMI counter (just kidding). It’s a good place to be.

A quick spin reveals a well sorted but still comfortable ride. It’s spritely enough from a standstill, but anything beyond a short sprint degenerates into simply noise.

Holden Barina RS

Holden Barina RS

Ins and outs

It’s all about the 1.4-litre DOHC 4-cylinder iTi turbo petrol engine. We tested it with the 6-speed automatic. 103kW @4,900rpm / 200Nm @1,850 rpm won’t induce goosebumps. But it’s enough for the kind of customer the RS Barina is aimed at.

Sitting 10mm lower than a normal Barina and with quality European tyres this tepid hatch corners well. Although it doesn’t come close to the real deals such as the Renault Clio or Ford Fiesta.

For extra sporting prowess there are RS sports floor mats and alloy pedals. But if you really like it hot you can always turn on the heated front seats.

Bragging Rights.

Officially the fastest production Barina ever, brag away to anyone who’ll listen.

Hip Pocket.

Our auto equipped model tops out at $23,190 (Plus on roads). The petrol turbo unit claims to burn 6.5l / 100km but we sailed closer to 8 most of the time. For the not too offensive “Orange Rock” prestige paint you part with another $550.

Holden Barina RS

Holden Barina RS

Lasting Impression

I guess if you simply just had to have a Holden Barina then the RS model is the go. But aside from its misplaced sporting pretensions, as a car it’s a convincing little package. Well-made and mostly well executed.

EFTM Rubber Stamp

Holden Barina RS

Holden Barina RS

The Holden Barina RS is the best equipped, most powerful attempt yet. However scoring the RS badge is a serious dose of wishful thinking.  As a result it scores the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp.

[schema type=”review” rev_name=”Holden Barina RS” rev_body=”A great little car, the best Barina ever made – with some great tech gadgets it’s well worth a look – but falls short of the “hot-hatch” competition” author=”Chris Bowen” pubdate=”2014-03-22″ user_review=”3″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”5″ ]

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