Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Snazzy Looker Delivers Sporty Touch for Target Market; Vani Naidoo Gets Schooled on Hallowed Holden Ground

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Snazzy Looker Delivers Sporty Touch for Target Market; Vani Naidoo Gets Schooled on Hallowed Holden Ground

Article excerpt

Vital Statistics

Model: Holden Barina RS

Details: Five-door front wheel drive warm hatch

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto with active select

Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo induction petrol generating maximum power of 103kW @ 4900rpm and peak torque of 200Nm @ 1850rpm

Consumption: 6.5 litres/100km combined

Bottom line: From $20,990 (auto at $23,190)

WE MADE a motley crew, we did, we journalists waiting in the rain at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground in Melbourne to put the Barina RS through its paces on the same challenge course used by the company's engineers to determine its ride and handling.

That the weather made it difficult to distinguish the orange cones from yellow or differentiate the slaloms from the chicanes mattered nought. Neither did we give a second thought to the skills used by the accomplished test drivers who had come before us - this was Holden's inner sanctum after all and to say no to a go around the traps here was just plain ridiculous.

And what fun it was to have that adrenaline surge as you twisted through impossible corners and pressed hard down the strait, a feeling hardly dampened by embarrassingly losing one's way or slipping precariously around bends.

Crushingly, I will never make a racing driver, it was mid-table mediocrity for me, but I did manage to hop a ride with Michael Barber, Holden's specialist engineer for ride and handling, as he demonstrated what the RS could really do.

Days later my heart is still in my mouth, my tummy still doing flip flops and my voice hoarse.

Of course my eyes were closed for most of it, but what a thrilla[degrees]

Comfort

The interior of the RS is simple and efficient rather than sporty. The instrument stack adds interest without being spectacular and as is usual in a small car switchgear is always close to hand.

The seven-inch infotainment touchscreen dominates the dash and graphics are top notch even though the link to the BringGo satellite navigation app can be tenuous. Plastics remain hard and cheap, expected at this price point, though some effort has been made to include texture and piano black highlights.

The steering flattened at the bottom is nice to grip and sports the RS logo as do the leather seats which although fairly comfortable for short stints could do with some side bolstering.

There are limited storage options and missing creature comforts with back seat passengers the most hard done by. Head and leg room is on par for this class while the boot, at 290-litres with the seats up, will hold a reasonable-sized weekly shop.

On the road

We drove both the 1.4-litre turbocharged automatic and manual on a suitably winding course, made all the more demanding by incessant rain, from Melbourne's city centre to Holden's proving ground at Lang Lang and without doubt the stick shift was the more enjoyable. This is plainly a warm hatch with sporty ambitions, but it was certainly pleasing that the RS stuck in the corners using its wide tyres to good effect and showed both poise and balance. …

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