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Car reviews - Holden - Barina - Swing 5-dr hatch


9 May 2003

HOLDEN'S popular Barina baby car lost some of its "beep beep" in its transition from the Japanese MH model to the German (via Spain) SB in 1994. A skyrocketing Japanese currency forced Holden to ditch its Suzuki source for Opel. But despite the SB's obvious appeal, which included superb styling, excellent interior design and presentation and a wide model range, the SB proved less utterly dependable, economical, energetic and fun to drive. There were numerous electrical and air-conditioning related problems, while quality control didn't match up to the Suzuki-built cars. At least the Swing model was relatively well equipped, and had the more powerful (or should that be less unpowerful) motor - its 44kW 1.4 barely cut the mustard. It's no surprise that the base City 1.2 with its puny 33kW, was discontinued after two and a half years. Dreary dynamics that betrayed the Barina's 1983 underpinnings just about sealed this car's fate as a retrograde step compared to the sprightlier Suzuki car, with August 1997's extensively reengineered version not coming a moment too soon. Even that, though, paled compared to the 1996 Toyota Starlet and Mitsubishi Mirage models, let alone the 1999 Toyota Echo. The Barina never gained its bounce back until the virtually all-new XC model arrived in early 2001. As one Holden engineer privately admitted to GoAuto soon after the XC's release, the SB was referred to as Holden's "... son of a... Barina".
Model release date: 1 April 1994 to 1 February 2001

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