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Holden Barina Spark (MJ Barina Spark)

Make: Holden
Model: MJ Barina Spark

Jan / 2010Release date:

Jan / 2016End date:



SLOTTING beneath the continuing Barina, the MJ Spark is the first sub-B Holden supermini to ever be sold in Australia – as well as the brand’s cheapest, most economical and greenest to date.

Built at GM DAT of South Korea – though production switches to South Africa from 2012 – the Spark is aimed at the ‘value’ end of the light car class.

Nevertheless, little is left to be desired in terms of equipment levels, with even the base CD boasting ESC stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, six airbags, air-conditioning, remote central locking, alloy wheels, fog lights, a body kit, and a rear spoiler. The up-spec CDX is expected to add niceties like improved media connectivity.

Under the stubby snout is a 1.2-litre twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine mated solely to a five-speed manual gearbox (for now). It delivers 59kW of power at 6400rpm and 107Nm of torque at 4800rpm, as well as 5.6L/100km and just 128g/km of CO2 emissions. Unsurprisingly, rapid acceleration isn’t its forte – the 0-100km/h dash takes 12.1 seconds.

Don’t fret though. Holden seems to have spared us the 50kW/93Nm 1.0L version offered elsewhere that needs 15.5s to hit the same speed…

First mooted at the 2007 New York International Auto Show as a trio of General Motors baby concept cars, it came into being after a US-wide internet poll saw the Chevy Beat – as the Spark concept was known at the time – score nearly 50 per cent of the vote against the other two (Trax and Groove).

The Barina Spark underwent a minor facelift in January 2013, gaining a subtly altered nose, new instruments, and – in the debuting automatic version – a larger engine and more standard equipment.

A 1250cc twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine was rated at 63kW and 113Nm with the auto, but only 59kW and 107Nm with the manual.

Going auto also brought a number of other benefits, including fuel-saving idle-stop, Bluetooth connectivity, a flip-key, steering wheel-mounted phone controls and electric power steering tuned in Australia by Holden (though oddly the manual sticks with the old hydraulic steering system).


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