The Numbers

1.4-litre 4cyl petrol turbo, 103kW, 200Nm, 6.5L/100km

The Topgear Verdict

Doesn't have all the fizziness that the letters 'R' and 'S' would suggest, but there's still plenty of fun to be had for the price.

2013 Holden Barina RS

The Barina RS is Holden’s hot hatch answer to the Ford Fiesta ST right?

Ah, no. The Barina RS is not really a hot hatch. More a mild hatch, in the same way a butter chicken is not a vindaloo, but both are still curries. Holden has admitted that the Barina RS’s rivals are actually the Fiesta Sport, the Suzuki Swift Sport and Kia Rio SLS. All little beauties with get up and go, but they’re not in the same league as say the Polo GTI and Fiesta ST.

So what does the Barina RS have going for it then? Seems like they’ve just taken a normal Barina, added some sporty looking body bits and glued an RS badge on the back?

Trust us, Holden has done more than just add a badge. Sure it’s not a hot hatch, but quite a few changes have been made to the regular Barina to make this better performing RS model. For starters they’ve given it the same 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo four as the Cruze. That makes it the most powerful Barina ever. Other changes include lowering the ride height by 10mm, adding stiffer springs and shock absorbers, putting ventilated disc brakes on the front and discs on the back, plus electric power steering that it has a quicker ratio for a more reactive feel. All of this makes the car go, stop and turn better. That said Holden have not released a 0-100km/h figure.

So it’s a blokey version of a girl’s car?

Who said the Barina was a girl’s car in the first place? Well actually Holden pretty much did when they gave us the figures. And, well, 60 per cent of Barina buyers are women. Holden is hoping, though, that the RS might get a few more guys into the model.

So let me guess, all this extra kit is going to drive up the price?

No, actually. Holden have kept the price very budget-like. The Barina RS costs $20,990 for the manual and $23,190 for the automatic. That makes it a good deal cheaper than the $23,990 Suzuki Swift Sport.

Reviewed by: Richard Berry

Driven: November 13, 2013