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Car reviews - Holden - Barina - CD

Our Opinion

We like
MyLink multimedia, more efficient auto, handsome styling, roomy cabin, solid dash, five-star safety, improved steering and ride on CDX
Room for improvement
Still not class leading, disappointing manual remains the same as before, behind some rivals for warranty

Holden logo30 Nov 2012

“RUBBERY manual gearshift, harsh engine with annoying flat spots, stiff ride, twee instrument pod, only Korean-built light car without five-year warranty …”

Despite these being our main criticisms of the current-generation Holden TM Barina hatch released almost 15 months ago, it proved to be a massive improvement over its 2002 Daewoo Kalos-derived TK predecessor.

Now, with tongue only partly pressed in cheek, Holden has announced that “due to criticism” from people like us, it has subtly improved the MY13 model. It’s great to know all our efforts don’t always fall on deaf ears.

The only thing is, it was the manual version that most riled us, and that remains the same.

So, fixing the pretty effective auto – one of the few six-speeders in its class – has us a bit perplexed, but we’ll have to take Holden’s word that it is smoother and more intuitive as well as more economical, because driving a CDX with its eager new electric power steering on some of Victoria’s best driving roads doesn’t reveal much.

Initial take-off acceleration felt lively, while pressing the pedal down on the move resulted in a civilised downshift and quite responsive engine performance, proving that the Barina feels at home on the open road.

Even with the largest wheels on any baby Holden we have driven, the suspension seemed to handle the surface bumps and undulations without complaint.

Compared with the class-leading VW Polo and Ford Fiesta, however, engine noise intrusion was noticeable. A much more thorough and relevant road test is in order. Stay tuned.

What else can we say? Fitting vinyl seat trim in a flagship model isn’t our idea of luxury even though the front ones are heated the MyLink tech is a big step in the right direction, and all the other TM Barina virtues – impressive cabin space, a solid feel, five-star ANCAP crash-test safety, handsome styling, a solid dash, generous equipment levels – remain.

We’d keep a watch on those escalating prices though, Holden, especially as the Koreans (and Renault) gazump you with their five-year warranty.

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