Excellent value — just not now
The Barina can be excellent value — just not at the moment. The website says full price for the just-released updated model is $21,290 driveaway for an auto. This is insane. You can get a Hyundai i30 (in the next class size up) for less than that. Wait until the base model Barina drops back to its bargain price of $16,990 driveaway (or thereabouts) for an auto. Then it’s worth considering. (This time last year the Barina auto was $16,190 drive-away with a fiveyear warranty.) The cabin materials are cut-price but in its favour are the touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, rear camera (with guide lines that turn with the steering), rear parking sensors, cruise control and auto headlights. The Barina’s capped price servicing is among the cheapest in the class at $916 for three years.
The Barina is one of the roomiest in its segment. Its generous cargo hold houses a full-size spare — a rarity in this class. The cabin layout is simple and functional, with easy-touse controls and large storage bins in the doors.
Six airbags and a strong body earned this generation Barina a five-star safety rating when it was released six years ago. It would not get five stars if tested today because it lacks automatic emergency braking, which can prevent a crash below 50km/h by slamming on the brakes if you don’t. Other cars in this class, such as the Skoda Fabia and Toyota Yaris, are starting to introduce AEB.
The 1.6-litre gets the job done but it’s noisy by class standards. It’s also not as economical as its peers because the Barina is comparatively heavy. The calibration of the six-speed auto was revised a few years ago but we suspect something has changed again. It’s not as intuitive as before, holding gears when you don’t want it to and changing when you do. It feels too tightly wound and indecisive. On the plus side, the Barina steers well, handles bumps with ease and feels extremely secure on the road.
Suzuki Swift A new model is due in July so the Swift is in run-out. It’s a deadset bargain at $15,990 drive-away for an auto ($3000 off). You get made-in-Japan quality and a super-frugal engine. Toyota Yaris The Yaris is in the middle of a changeover to a slightly updated model (there are new tail-lights and a different bend in the front bumper but the engine and transmission carry over). Get a run-out model for $17,990 driveaway with auto ($3000 off). Hyundai Accent It may be getting a bit long in the tooth but the Accent is worth a look at its current rock bottom price of $15,990 driveaway for an auto ($4500 off ). Factory-backed five-year warranty adds to its appeal.
The Barina is worth a test drive once the price comes back down to earth (which it should do in the next month or so). Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to take the alternatives around the block.