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by Tim Beissmann

The Holden Barina RS will go on sale in November, adding a performance flagship to the city car range.

The Barina RS borrows its turbocharged 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the Cruze small car, helping the pint-sized hot-hatch accelerate from 0-100km in around eight seconds according to overseas tests.

The Holden Barina RS – a localised version of the Chevrolet Sonic RS that debuted at the 2012 Detroit auto show – joins Australia’s increasingly competitive pocket rocket class alongside the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, Suzuki Swift Sport and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Expected to bolster the local range for some time, the Barina RS will be priced in the low- to mid-$20K bracket, sitting above the current range topper, the 85kW/155Nm 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder Barina CDX hatch, which costs $20,490.

Holden says its engineering team has tested the Barina RS over thousands of kilometres as part of validation work for the new sports variant, and has developed a unique electric power steering calibration for the Australian market.

In the US, the Sonic RS comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic, with unique gear ratios designed to give it a sportier feel than non-RS variants.

MacPherson strut suspension with coil springs and a stabiliser bar at the front and a semi-independent torsion beam set-up with gas-charged shocks at the rear join a new four-wheel disc brake package, replacing the standard Barina’s rear drums.

Distinguishing the RS from the standard Barina range is a sports body kit with unique front and rear bumpers, a larger rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels and the exclusive Orange Rock hero paint colour, while sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel create a performance theme in the cabin.

Official pricing and specification details of the Holden Barina RS will be revealed closer to its November launch.