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Holden Barina 2014 review

Holden has added some spice to its bargain Barina range with the addition of a turbocharged RS performance model. But the turbo newcomer will have plenty of competition, with a growing number of "warm" and hot hatches now in the market. Holden has managed to undercut them all for price however with its Korean sourced product.

Value

That extra oomph is going to set you back $3500. That's the difference between a CDX which comes only as an auto and the RS with an auto (of course you could opt for a manual which is $2200 less).

Technology

The 1.4 litre turbocharged engine is a lift from the Cruze. It produces 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque compared to the standard Barina's 85/155. The engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with manual change mode.

In keeping with its sporty pretensions, the ride height has been dropped 10mm and the drums have been replaced with disc brakes at the rear. Performance-tuned dampers with increased spring rates have also been fitted. Holden engineers were heavily involved in the development of Barina RS.

A unique electric power steering calibration, tailored specifically for Australian driving tastes was developed at Holden's proving ground.  It has a quicker ratio, ensuring a more reactive and sportier drive. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.5 litres/100km whether it's the auto or the manual (we were getting 7.4). It takes standard unleaded, but Holden says you could gain some performance by using one of the premium grades (love the spin).

Design/Styling/Features

It comes as a five-door hatch only, and features sports style front and rear fascias, fog lights, rear parking sensors and new 17-inch alloys. The sports styling extends to the cabin with heated leather front seats featuring the RS logo, along with leather shifter, sports pedals and floor mats with the RS logo as well.

The interior is boosted with piano black trim and dominated by the MyLink infotainment system with a seven-inch colour touchscreen. You need a smartphone with a sizeable data plan to take full advantage of its capabilities, including the BringGo navigation app. Comes in eight colours, one of which, Orange Rock, is exclusive to this model but costs an extra $550.

Safety

Gets a full five stars from ANCAP, with six airbags and electronic traction and stability control.

Driving

After driving both models we prefer the auto. It feels smoother and more polished than the manual and more like a car that you'd actually want to own. Our big gripe is the awkward seating position. The pedals are too high and too close to the seat, but if you set the seat back the steering wheel is too far away for proper control. The setup wasn't too bad in short bursts but we became uncomfortable on longer trips.

Apart from this the RS exhibits a surprising amount of punch and grip for a cheap Korean econobox. At best it's an entertaining drive once you master the gear change, with strong mid-range performance. It also remains quite torquey in higher gears, torquey enough to even entertain overtaking. At worst the RS lacks torque off boost and runs out of puff quickly when accelerating off the line. Holden's engineering has done a fine job with the ride and handling, but it never quite manages to shrug off its modest beginnings.

Verdict

Affordable fun.

Pricing Guides

$9,990
Based on 104 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,990
Highest Price
$14,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CD 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,999 – 12,990 2014 Holden Barina 2014 CD Pricing and Specs
CD Trio 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,990 – 9,999 2014 Holden Barina 2014 CD Trio Pricing and Specs
CDX 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,990 – 13,990 2014 Holden Barina 2014 CDX Pricing and Specs
RS 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,995 – 14,490 2014 Holden Barina 2014 RS Pricing and Specs