By an official measure, at least.
This dating-almost-back-to-the-millennium crap can – a Daewoo Kalos in mild disguise – has had its crash safety rating bumped up from a bottom of the ladder two stars from five (the worst in an Australia-available new passenger vehicle) to a Commodore-matching four.
Which is nice.
But why did this need to happen? Why the sudden volte face?
Because, according to Holden, there was nothing wrong with the dingy Daewoo dunger in the first place. At least that’s what it claimed back in oh-five when it succeeded the comparatively brilliant Opel Corsa (the 2001 Wheels Car of the Year, no less) in rebadged-as-a-Barina guise.
This is despite the unanimous verdict among the motoring hack collegiate that the so-called Barina was a pile of pus. It’s just that certain of this fraternity neglected to write that.
“It’s a nice package backed up by Holden,” one of these trilled unctuously.
Yet I remember the gripless and squealing at no provocation standard tyres, the manual shift that moved like a breadstick being stirred through porridge, the steering that would have disgraced a pre-PlayStation video game, the hostile relationship between front and rear ends when in motion, and the unrivalled air of cheap nastiness that pervaded the whole construct.
Equally one recalls the seething barely post-pubescent Holden operative assigned the task of taking me to task for permitting this to be said in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph; a sensation uncannily reminiscent of the time I was menaced by a yapping poodle.
Yet more indelible is the memory of a more senior Holden operative chuckling delightedly during the launch of yet another Daewoo (the dismal Epica) that great numbers of girls were attending dealer’s events designed to sign ’em up to a Barina. Talk about a Kalos attitude.
So if the bogus Barina was critique-proof, why the need for improvement?
Could it be that Holden – heaven forbid – wasn’t being perfectly Francis when they decried the original ANCAP verdict on the Kalos/Barina? Or have they just now stumbled on this realization, which means the company is seven years behind the rest of the world?