Ex­cel­lent value — just not now

The Advertiser - Motoring - - SHORT CUT -

VALUE

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.

COM­FORT

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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