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Holden Barina 2012 review

It's a better looking car that's for sure. But it will be buyers who decide whether Holden's new Barina cuts the mustard in this increasingly important section of the market.

Although sourced from Korea like its predecessor, it's an entirely new car with no lingering links to the Daewoo franchise. The Cruze which is now built in Australia has been a stellar success for GM and there's no reason why Barina cannot emulate this feat.

No reason that is except apart from the excellent competition in the light car segment, currently led by the Mazda2, soon to be updated Yaris, or Hyundai's Getz replacement the i20.

The new Barina is also sold in other countries as a Chevrolet Aveo. Holden is hoping the new, aggressive face will appeal to both male and female buyers. It is quite large for a small hatch, with a generous boot that hides a no cost option full-size spare.


Priced from $15,990, the manual is available for an introductory offer of $16,990 driveaway. It's powered by 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine that generates 85kW of power and 155Nm of torque. The choice is  five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. And, apart from the colour, that's about the only choice you have to make, because Barina comes in just the one highly equipped model.

You get air and alloys, along with Bluetooth and a USB input that is iPod compatible, steering wheel phone and audio controls and cruise control. Be sure to check out the cool red headlight halos which are optional.


Barina also scores a full five stars for safety, with six airbags, stablity control and anti-lock brakes standard with brake assist and brake force distribution. In the United States however the same car gets 10 airbags.


We were able to drive both the auto and a manual at the launch. The auto is the pick of the pair and feels like a better match for the engine. The manual in comparison struggles, especially off the mark.

The twin cam 85kW engine is a revised, third generation version of the Family One engine that powered the previous model, with a redesigned cylinder head, variable valve timing and variable intake manifold.

It produces 11 per cent more power but feels weighed down by a 120kg increase in the weight of the car and lacks the punch of competitors. Fuel economy for the maual is a claimed 6.8 and for the auto 7.3 litres/100km.

We like the large easy to read digital speedo and general layout of the cabin. Rear legroom is adequate if is good but not great.

GM has worked hard to reduce the level of noise inside the cabin of this car, with thicker glass and insulation, tuned engine mounts and acoustic resonators fitted to the engine intake system to reduce noise and vibration.

If you don't fancy a hatch there's a sedan still to come in the New Year along with the likelihood of a sportier model fitted with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine like the larger Cruze.

Pricing Guides

Based on 239 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $5,985 – 11,990 2012 Holden Barina 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
CD 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,499 – 10,500 2012 Holden Barina 2012 CD Pricing and Specs
CDX 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,000 – 10,990 2012 Holden Barina 2012 CDX Pricing and Specs
Classic 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,888 – 9,998 2012 Holden Barina 2012 Classic Pricing and Specs