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Future models - Holden - Barina - RS

Hottest Holden Barina coming to Australia

Early landing: This example of the Barina RS is in Australia months ahead of the proper launch, because Holden is tweaking the electric steering for local tastes.

November launch for 103kW turbocharged Holden Barina RS hatch

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Holden logo17 Sep 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

HOLDEN will launch the Barina RS sports hatch in Australia during November, complete with a locally developed steering tune.

Power comes from the familiar 103kW at 4900rpm and 200Nm at 1850rpm 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine used in the larger Cruze, making the RS more of a warmed-up hatch than an outright pocket rocket like the 132kW Ford Fiesta ST.

The five-door Holden will instead be aimed squarely at rivals such as the $23,990 Suzuki Swift Sport, and the forthcoming Hyundai Accent SR.

The new flagship Barina – it’s called the Chevrolet Sonic RS in the US, where it is already on sale – will get a sports bodykit incorporating larger rear spoiler and side skirts, new 17-inch alloy wheels and an exclusive-for-RS paint colour called Orange Rock.

The RS also gets a mildly different new grille design, rear fascia and re-designed rocker mouldings. Either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions are available in the US, and both will presumably carry over to Australia.

Inside the cabin are bigger-bolstered sports seats with RS branding, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium pedals. The RS also gets Holden’s familiar MyLink infotainment system with music apps displayed on a seven-inch touchscreen.

US versions of the car have 10mm-lowered ride height thanks to stiffer suspension, as well as sportier dampers. Australian versions will also feature a locally calibrated electric steering tune, as found on many other imported Lion-badged models.

Holden says its engineering team has been involved in thousands of kilometres of validation work and is now undertaking in-country evaluation on public roads and at the Lang Lang proving ground.

Under the skin is a Macpherson strut front suspension layout with coils and a stabiliser bar, while a semi-independent torsion beam sits up the back.

The RS comes at a good time for Holden, because the Barina’s languishing sales could do with a boost. According to VFACTS, 6345 units have found homes this year, down 28.8 per cent on last year in a segment that is only down by 2.2 per cent in comparison.

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