Holden Barina Hatchback

Price range

$15,990 – $20,490

Overall

Good: Low price, improved looks and four airbags as standard.

Not so Good: Feels like a cheap car; the Manual gearbox is below par; far from class-leading.

Design and Engineering

Good : The August 2008 Holden Barina mid life facelift improves the front-end looks; styled by Italian design house Giugiaro.

Not so good : Look past the styling updates and the overall shape (which arrived in Australia back in December 2005) of the Barina is getting a little bit dated…

Interior and Styling

Good : The new and improved dashboard with an integrated audio and a new instrument cluster.

Not so good : Where are all the storage options? Updated dash still lags behind leading competitors in both materials used and the ‘fit and finish’; front seats are wide but too flat and lack support. Rear seat room is nothing to shout about; it feels cheap in here.

Performance

Good : We found that with a driver and one passenger aboard, the 1.6L engine has ample power for city driving.

Not so good : Slightly disappointing 1.6L engine feels like its working more than it should at highway speeds; five-speed manual doesn’t like to be hurried (the 4-speed auto is a better bet).

Ride and Handling

Good : The ride and handling balance sits about mid-field compared with other light cars.

Not so good : Power steering is not the best, a touch too heavy in heavy traffic; too much cabin noise at speed; tyres lack grip. No sports hatch.

Buying and Owning

Good : ANCAP has rated this model with a 5 star safety rating. The additional 2 airbags compared to previous models is a big tick; the Holden Barina nameplate is well known to Aussie car buyers so resale should not be a problem.

Not so good : Having to pay extra for ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System); No Electronic Stability Control (ESC), not even as an option; fuel economy is close to the back of the pack for a light car.

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