Test: Holden Barina
Maniatis - 4/May/2006
doesn't have to mean nasty, and Holden's new Barina is a case in point.
Though it is cheap, costing $13,490 for the 3-door hatch and
undercutting the popular Hyundai Getz by $500, it's also got a modicum
of style and does what it's asked without any major
And it's reason for being?
Holden needed a budget-priced light car that was at the other end of
the spectrum to its well-mannered and increasingly sophisticated Astra
range. The previous model Barina, while a very good car,
wasn't competing as strongly as Holden had hoped in a market
where price is often the clincher.
more people flocking the light car market as petrol becomes a more
expensive commodity, Holden needed a new entry-level motor vehicle, and
in order to revitalise sales in the light car segment and rival
cars like the Hyundai Getz and Kia Rio, Holden has
released the TK Barina (formerly the Kalos), which can be sold
for much less than the outgoing Opel-sourced Corsa/Barina, yet still
has a stylish look and feel.
In my view,
Holden’s strategy of moving their marketing of
the small car segment to the more accessible end of the consumer market
bodes well with this Korean version of the well to do Australian Beep
Beep brand, as after having tested it, I can report that there are no
fundamental flaws to the happy little car, which not only shows how
much Korean auto manufacturing has
advanced in the last five years, but also shows a commitment
from Holden to not release junk into the marketplace.
detailed specs on the Holden Barina.
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Engine: 1.6-litre, inline
Safety: 2 airbags (front driver/passenger)
Holden's cost effective TK Barina
is brilliant around town thanks to its
small size, and has loads of standard
features, such as air-con & dual airbags
Engine: Holden 1.6-litre inline 4-cylinder petrol
The transversely mounted 1598cc L4 engine has a cast-iron engine
block and a alloy head, featuring 4-valves per cylinder actuated
by belt-driven dual overhead
camshafts (DOHC). The fuel injected engine has a 9.5:1 compression
ratio allowing 91/95 RON gasoline, and features a 45 litre fuel
Max Power: 77kW @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 145Nm @ 3600rpm
Korean born Barina is sensational value for money for what it
is and what it does, and for a large chunk of its target market -
young, first time buyers and/or drivers - it makes a very good first
impression, scooting from A to B without braking the bank or your
chafing your style.
an attractive vehicle by and large, featuring a sort of European rear
end and flared wheel guards, and at the front the angular headlights
and familiar Holden grille work well. Will it still look pretty in five
years time? That's another question altogether.
Back in my day your first car
was often a clapped-out hand-me-down from Grandpa, with a poorly
maintained engine that guzzled fuel (not that it was a problem back
then). The Barina meanwhile is frugal little vehicle, packing
a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine that will chew through 6.9 litres of
petrol per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle with the
transmission. We managed to get slightly better mileage than the manufacturers quote when driven gently, and
the 4-speed automatic returns 7.8L/100km.
intents and purposes, people that would be attracted to this
Barina are most likely looking at driving their dollar further at the
purchase, and in running costs the Barina shapes up quite
The car drove nicely in and around
city, where it will probably see most use, and with its light
controls you're never left fighting the car when driving about. It's
the perfect vehicle for zipping in and out of coffee shops and
squeezing into the tight city
car parks without any fear of scraping panel work, as
it has very compact dimensions, measuring just 1670mm in width and less
than 4 metres in length (3880mm).
Out on the
should I say toll way), driving was a little less sure footed
than around town, but
still held its own. On the open road the chassis failed to excite as
much as the previous model, and though it is super light, tipping the
scales at just 1116kg, the car feels a little wooden when coaxed
through a corner. But considering it's target demographic, I don't
think this will be of consequence to most buyers.
efficient little 1.6-litre engine provides adequate shunt in most
situations - except when lining up against an SS Commodore at the
traffic lights. Developing 77 kilowatts of power and 145Nm of torque,
the engine revs cleanly and there's nothing inherently wrong with it.
The gearbox isn't quite as polished. Clutch operation is fine, but the
gear shifter doesn't inspire rapid changes.
ride quality is better than it's handling abilities I think, and
internally the Barina felt remarkably spacious with plenty of head room
for taller bodied drivers and passengers. I liked the inclusion of
speed and engine revolution dials [some people call them the
speedometer and tachometer - Ed], both of which have a great finish,
and other features like key, seatbelt and headlight warning buzzers
plus the practical steering wheel-mounted audio controls give you the
impression that this car is worth more than its asking price.
and large, the interior materials are modern
conscious) and the general styling the car's interior felt very 2006
and quite pleasing for something in the budget car bracket.
though, it lacked in some areas, such as the brakes, which are drums at
the rear - but the target market it
is going after won’t care too much. I'm sure it saves a few
hundred dollars off the
price tag, keeping it competitive in its field - but it just
reviewer the feel that corners were being cut.
you weren't told the car had drums on the rear though, there's a good
chance you wouldn't pick it, as braking is not too bad, even with 200mm
rear drums, and when you consider the standard features, such as air
conditioning, driver and front passenger airbags, immobiliser, power
steering, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, the sub
$14,000 price represents value.
also a trendy-looking 6-speaker CD
stereo with MP3 compatibility, which will be of great interest to
younger buyers, and the centre console looks good, with intuitive HVAC
dials and buttons. The boot is quite small, as are the rear seats, but
a tiny vehicle and a hatchback at that. About 200 litres of space is on
offer in the boot, and that expands to 1190 litres when you fold down
split-fold rear seats.
For what you pay, you
get quite a bit of kit in the Barina. It's not the fastest, or
best-looking, or even the most sophisticated motor vehicle out there,
but it's a bargain, and the rate that oil prices are rising, it makes good
All in all, the new Barina
is a great value
for money runabout with enough modern functions to appeal to a wide
range of drivers, and in particular the youngsters looking for a new
car with a decent warranty. In fact, at it’s price, why not
buy two so you don’t have to
share the car on weekends? It is easy to operate and drive (if a little
uninspired), is fuel efficient, and even has an effective sense of style.
on the review? The Car? Your Car? Email us.