These exclusive photos reveal the light Barina hatch in its overseas Chevrolet Sonic form, decked out in full RS kit with large(ish) multi-spoke alloy wheels, sports exhaust tip and a lowered ride height.
Holden has yet to confirm any plans for an update to the Barina, but with the current model having launched in 2011, it is due for some serious attention. By comparison, rival Ford gave the Fiesta hatch a key makeover around five years after its 2008 launch.
More importantly, a close look through the few holes of the heavy camouflage reveals a switch away from the current model’s semi-exposed headlight design to a more conventional lens arrangement.
An integrated LED light strip can also be seen at the front, and, although disguised, there is likely a new grille and bumper design there inspired by its larger and brand-new Cruze sedan sibling.
The upgrade should help to give the little hatch a new lease on life for its remaining years, although it remains to be seen if its interior will be given a significant enough overhaul to match the Mazda2.
Likewise, the hatch's updated cabin would realistically need to outdo the smaller new-generation Spark, which launched in Australia this week to a positive review here at CarAdvice.
Above: the new-generation Cruze sedan, due here in the coming year
The model shown here is likely an update to the RS model, which, in Australia, is positioned as a ‘warm hatch’ that draws power from a 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
That configuration means that, although spirited, the Barina RS has never been a rival to the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST (147kW) and others of its ilk.
Whether this updated variant will see a power hike is unclear, although we could see the top-spec 123kW 1.5-litre option in GM’s new small Ecotec engine range planted in the Barina RS for a welcome upgrade.
Above: the current Barina RS
The current Barina can’t quite be defined in Australia as a sales leader, with 1064 sales to its credit year-to-date in 2016. The light-car segment’s champions include the Mazda2 (2638 sales year-to-date), Toyota Yaris (2187), Suzuki Swift (1785), Hyundai Accent (1745) and Honda Jazz (1064).
CarAdvice has contacted Holden for word on when, or if, we’ll see this updated Barina in Australia. Watch this space.