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Holden Barina sedan 2012 review

We'd buy the six speed auto every day - more practical for city driving and a higher top for easier cruising.

Buying a new Holden Barina sedan is simple. You get hold of your $16,490, then you pick the colour and choose between manual or optional six-speed auto for two grand more.

That's how to buy a car - no mucking around with endless options or "packages." Good one Holden. Barina sedan lobbed recently complementing the five-door hatch and we reckon it's a better thing.


They're the same under the skin but the four door feels more substantial on the road and the engine feels better sorted too - with no annoying throttle flare between gear changes. 

Our drive car was a five-speed manual and to be frank, it could do with another cog for highway work but the shortish gearing translates into strong acceleration even if the engine is roaring away at 110kmh. And fuel economy is surprisingly good at around 6.8-litres/100km.

Out of Korea

It's out of a Daewoo factory in Korea but don't hold that against it. Look at Hyundai and Kia - they have some of the most desirable mainstream cars going around at the moment and the Barina is desirable too - in its own way, particularly value for money.


Look at the fixed price servicing for example - $185 a pop for scheduled servicing for the first three years/60,000km which means no gouge from the service department thank you.

And it has the largest capacity engine in the light class too, as well as being possibly the biggest "tiddler" in body size - more up into the small car class really. So you get plenty of metal for your money.

Under the Bonnet

Power comes from a relatively old-school, GM Family 1 engine - a 1.6-litre, petrol four banger with twin cams, variable valve timing and variable inlet. It's an old iron block unit traceable back decades but refined and revamped to the stage where it ticks most of the boxes. It's smooth and sometimes quiet running, reasonably fuel efficient and has easily accessible power and torque rated at 85kW/155Nm.

The Drive

Dynamics are surprisingly sporty - the word marshmallow doesn't even figure in the equation. It hooks around corners in a most un-econobox manner and then backs up around town and on the freeway as a competent all rounder.

The manual change is good and the clutch is light to operate. It doesn't peg back on hills like the Holden Cruze 1.4 SRi-V manual we just drove while fuel requirement is only regular unleaded.


Holden equips Barina sedan with plenty of cool kit including Bluetooth phone and audio, multi media connectivity, multiple steering wheel controls, a basic info read out, cruise, a/c and even 15-inch alloys. We like the motorbike inspired instrument pod but there's too much hard, acrid smelling plastic inside and no centre arm rest or bin. 

Storage provision elsewhere is ample and the boot is large. It gets a five star ANCAP rating with the accompanying six air bags, stability control and a raft of other safety gear. Do we like the look of it? Well, yeh...and no. The high boot is a bit jarring but the VW Golf look to the frontal area is pleasing. It's not ugly.


Would we?

We'd buy the six speed auto every day - more practical for city driving and a higher top for easier cruising.

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Range and Specs

(base) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $4,400 – 7,040 2012 Holden Barina 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
CD 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $4,400 – 7,040 2012 Holden Barina 2012 CD Pricing and Specs
CDX 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $5,100 – 7,920 2012 Holden Barina 2012 CDX Pricing and Specs
Classic 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,600 – 5,830 2012 Holden Barina 2012 Classic Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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