The split is almost identical in both countries: females in New Zealand and Australia buy six out of every 10 Holden Barina hatchbacks sold.
But the ratio might change on both sides of the Ditch now that Holden has introduced the Barina RS, a warmish five-door hatchback priced at $26,490 and using the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that serves the bigger Cruze range.
Early accounts have the 1200kg RS as a reasonably lively player, with adequate power from the 103kW/200Nm four-cylinder, good grip levels, and a tied-down chassis that provides a better than average ride and handling mix on 17-inch alloys.
It’s a chassis/power match that Holden engineers say works perfectly for a short wheelbase car with a 10mm lower ride height, 15 per cent stiffer springs, and uprated shock absorbers.
Holden NZ managing director Jeff Murray believes the RS, also aided by its edgy styling and in-car technology, will extend Barina’s appeal.
“We think there’s a good chance that the RS will lure more males into the Barina market, while at the same time holding on to the loyal female customer base,” he said.
“The RS ticks a lot of boxes for both female and male drivers and we are keen for our customers to enjoy what the new variant adds to the mix.”
One addition is an exclusive paint colour, Orange Rock. It’s part of the overall RS styling that extends to the cabin’s piano-black finish, heated leather and suede front seats, leather gear shifter, sports pedals and RS-branded floor mats.
Another is the seven-inch colour touchscreen that houses Holden’s new MyLink infotainment system, which debuted in the Barina CDX.
The touchscreen allows the driver to connect a smartphone or device to access embedded apps including Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio and low-cost navigation app, BringGo.
Holden engineers say the electric power-steering calibration was tailored specifically for New Zealand and Australian driving tastes and developed at Holden’s proving ground in Lang Lang, Victoria.
The RS comes with the choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Holden claims town-and-around fuel consumption for the RS of 6.5 litres/100km, or 43mpg.