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Detroit show: Next Holden Barina SRi surfaces

Detroit debutante: Sonic RS gets twin chromed exhaust outlets within a black rear 'diffuser', a chunkier roof spoiler and 17-inch alloys.

Chevy Sonic RS hot-hatch previews Holden’s new Barina SRi ahead of Motown debut

Holden logo20 Dec 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

CHEVROLET has revealed full details and images of its new turbocharged 2013 Sonic RS, which should morph faithfully into Holden’s born-again Barina SRi ‘hot-hatch’ by this time next year, following its public debut at the Detroit motor show on January 9.

Appearing virtually identical to the Chevrolet Aveo RS concept that debuted at last year’s Paris motor show, the hottest iteration of General Motors’ first global B-car packs the same 103kW/200Nm turbocharged 1.4-litre Ecotec petrol four as Holden’s Adelaide-made Cruze SRi-V.

Combined with a sports chassis comprising lower, firmer springs, performance-tuned dampers and 17-inch alloy wheels – all wrapped in a more aggressive sports body kit – that should make it Holden’s first truly sporting light car since the Opel Corsa-based XC Barina SRi made way for the previous Daewoo Kalos-based Barina in 2005.

North America’s warmed-over RS is based on the same five-door hatchback version of the new Barina – which Chevrolet calls the Sonic in the US and the Aveo in Europe – that Holden released here in September, rather than the four-door sedan body style due for local release by March.

Despite the obvious applicability of the hotter Barina in Australia, where an sporty SRi flagship would compete with the likes of Suzuki’s upcoming 100kW Swift Sport and Volkswagen’s 132kW Polo GTI (available in three- and five-door body styles only with a DSG auto), Holden says it will concentrate on mainstream versions of the new five-door and upcoming four-door – for now.

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“It certainly looks like an exciting car but we have nothing new to announce regarding our Barina line-up at this stage,” GM Holden senior product communications manager Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto.

“We're focusing on the recently launched Barina hatch and looking forward to welcoming the Barina sedan when it joins the line-up early next year.

“(But) As we said at the Barina launch, we’ll listen to consumer feedback and if there’s an interest in a hotter hatch we can respond to that.

“Obviously we look at everything, especially because the product is already out here, so at this stage no but it is certainly being looked at. We’ll evaluate it to see if there’s a market here.” While the US Sonic is produced at GM’s recently refurbished Assembly Center in Michigan, Australia’s Barina continues to be built in South Korea, and for now continues to be powered exclusively by an 85kW/155Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine here.

The previous TK Barina hatch – now called the Classic - continues to be available here, as does the smaller and virtually unrelated 1.2-litre Spark five-door. Although a three-door version of the new TM Barina is not expected to emerge, the Barina sedan should arrive here within month with the same 1.6-litre powertrain as the hatch.

Like the new Barina, the US Sonic RS will be available with the choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

However, the RS/SRi adds a sharpened version of the standard car’s MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspensions, as well as a more aggressive front bumper with unique grille and foglights, a larger roof spoiler, special wing mirror caps, unique five-spoke 17-inch alloys, sportier side skirts, a new rear bumper with black lower insert and twin chromed exhaust outlets.

Inside, there are new sports front seats, a thicker-rimmed flat-bottom sports steering wheel, aluminium pedal covers and RS-specific instrument cluster graphics.

There is also a sportier RS gearshifter for manual models, which come with unique gear ratios, while the auto version features a lower final drive ratio – both aimed at giving the Sonic RS “a sportier feel than non-RS models”.

When it showed the Aveo RS concept, GM said the hotter Barina would sprint to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds, making it significantly quicker than the garden-variety models, which ride on 15-inch wheels.

“The new Chevrolet Sonic RS pushes Chevrolet’s performance heritage in a new direction, for a new generation of drivers,” said global Chevrolet marketing vice-president Chris Perry.

“It takes the Sonic’s great design and latest connectivity features and combines them with a more performance-oriented look and feel.” In the US, the Sonic RS will be available in five exterior paint colours - Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Gray Metallic and the new Black Granite Metallic hue.

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