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VW Polo 77TSI vs Holden Barina RS


VW Polo 77TSI and Holden Barina RS go head-to-head in this comparative review.

value

VW Polo 77TSI

The current Polo arrived halfway through 2010 and a few months later was crowned Carsguide Car of the Year. Now it’s falling behind in terms of media and entertainment kit. An updated model arrives late this year. This one is light on standard features but undercuts the RS at $19,240 (DSG $21,740).

Holden Barina RS

The RS went on sale in November priced keenly at $20,990 (auto $23,190) - Suzuki wants $25,990 for the Swift Sport. Standard features include a seven-inch infotainment screen, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and 17-inch alloys.

technology

VW Polo 77TSI

This Polo has a 1.2-litre direct injection turbo four (77kW/175Nm). Sure, the Barina has 26kW more but the Polo is 200kg lighter. VW says the Polo takes 9.7 secs for 0-100km/h. The six-speed manual is excellent and the seven-speed DSG shifts fast. VW claims the Polo drinks at 5.5L/100km in combined driving.

Holden Barina RS

The RS has a 1.4-litre turbo petrol four (103kW/200Nm), which Holden says burns 6.5L/100km of 95 RON in combined driving. The six-speed manual is fun and easy to use but the six-speed auto feels lethargic. The RS has sportier suspension with stiffened springs and shocks while the ride height is lowered 10mm. It’s Korean built but the steering is tuned for Aussie roads.

design

VW Polo 77TSI

This is premium car quality in the light car class. It has aged well, with elegant exterior design, tough stance and one of the most refined cabins you’ll find in this category. Use of space is good, with just enough rear legroom.

Holden Barina RS

The performance focused Barina gets sporty, aggressive front and rear body kit. Inside the theme continues with sports leather seats embossed with RS lettering, so too the floor mats. Good use of space inside with ample rear legroom. Cheap plastics and lack of refinement let the cabin down.

safety

VW Polo 77TSI

The Polo has a five-star ANCAP rating. As with the Barina there are six airbags. Disc brakes all-round, ABS, traction and electronic stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution. The Polo also has a hill start brake. The Comfortline comes standard with a full-sized spare.

Holden Barina RS

The RS’s five-star ANCAP rating comes from six airbags, disc brakes all-round (regular Barinas have rear drums), traction and electronic stability control, ABS, brake assistance and electronic brakeforce distribution. An inflation kit for punctures is standard but a full-size spare tyre is a no-cost option.

driving

VW Polo 77TSI

The Polo is an enjoyable drive. That 1.2-litre turbo looks small on paper but feels responsive to the pedal and grunty in the metal. The handling is great with the car reassuringly planted in the corners. The ride can feel a little springy with the rear torsion beam suspension but is still smooth. The steering is a little heavy but accurate.

Holden Barina RS

Handling and grip are good and impressive for a Barina. The MacPherson strut front suspension works well but the torsion beam in the back roughens the ride. Holden hails the RS as the “new hero” of the range and “the most powerful Barina ever” but this is not a hot hatch - it’s just a very good Barina.

Verdict

VW Polo 77TSI

Holden Barina RS

Carsguide’s Car of the Year 2010 has still got it. The Barina is modern and great value but the Polo’s refinement, quality and driving enjoyment shine through.