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Holden Barina
Price is right for new Barina
February 2006

USED car salespeople are still groaning after the release of Holden`s new Barina.

And they have good reason to be downhearted. How on earth can they be expected to sell pre-loved vehicles when consumers can now buy shiny new ones - with air-conditioning - for under $13,000?

That`s for a 3-door version and the more practical 5-door, which we tested, also goes for a song at just $14,490.

Holden is making a bold statement in Australia`s light car segment with the latest Barina, now obtained through its Daewoo arm in Korea.

The newcomer, which started life as a Kalos, replaces the Opel Corsa-sourced model, which was built in Europe.

Although not offering quite the same overall quality as its predecessor, it comes into the market at a cheaper price.

The TK Beep Beep Barina has other advantages over the former model, with more space and extra power courtesy of a zesty 1.6-litre engine.

Holden`s sharp pricing makes the stable`s new babies some of the most affordable and powerful cars in their category.

For the money, you get an impressive array of standard features such as driver and front passenger airbags, air con, power steering, MP3-compatible sound system with CD player and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

The list also includes power windows (front only on three-door), heated power exterior mirrors, height adjustable driver`s seat, tilt-adjustable steering and seatbelt, key and headlights on reminders.

Barina`s 1.6 litre DOHC, multi-point fuel injected 16-valve engine is lively enough, producing 76kW of peak power at 5800 rpm and 145Nm of torque at 3000rpm, much of it available over a broad rev range.

The power plant complies with Euro 3 emissions standards and returns a fuel-efficient 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres (manual transmission) and 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres (automatic transmission).

Buyers have a choice of five-speed manual, as we tested, or optional four-speed automatic transmission.

The manual is not the most co-operative, tending to be a little crunchy.

A series of chassis and suspension refinements developed for Barina by

Holden engineers balance ride comfort on all Australian road types with reasonable handling, roadholding and stability, aided by a wider stance and 15-inch tyres.

Ventilated front disc brakes are standard and a four-channel ABS braking system is available in an option pack.

Price aside, the Barinas biggest asset would have to be its interior space.

The 5-door hatch was deceptively roomy and even the usually sweaty and knuckle-scraping activity of putting child seats in and out was a breeze.

Those upfront have surprising leg and headroom and theres no shoulder bumping either.

The rear is fine for two kiddies, or relatives and friends of compact proportions, but three in the back would be a squeeze.

The cabin layout is extremely practical and theres no shortage of drink holders, pockets and storage bins.

Safety issues have been addressed in the new Barina with a range of occupant protection safety systems including driver and front passenger airbags.

The sash height adjustable front seat belts have pre-tensioners, the automatic transmission has a shift lock control system and there are three rear seat child restraint anchorages.

The passenger safety cell is protected by side intrusion beams, impact-absorbing crumple zones and load stress patterns engineered into the body structure designed to deflect crash energy.

Seven exterior colors are available: Arctic White, Mercury Silver (metallic), Jet Black (metallic), Chilli Red, Horizon Blue (metallic), Sunset Orange (metallic) and Sunshine Yellow (five-door hatch only).

In summary, the new Barina is a must consider in the hotly-contested light car segment because of its price, space and long list of standard features.



ENGINE: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder

POWER: 76kW at 5800rpm

TORQUE: 145Nm at 3000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual (as tested) or optional 4-speed auto

FUEL ECONOMY: 6.9 litres/100km

PROS: Price, standard equipment, interior space

CONS: Lack-lustre road manners, manual gearbox could be slicker

BOTTOM LINE: $14,490 (add $2000 for auto)