Holden Barina and Trax upgraded
Holden has updated both its Barina small car and the Trax, the compact SUV which is based on it. Damien O’carroll reports.
With the release of the acclaimed Spark city car, the two cars that sit just above it in Holden’s range, the Barina and Trax, were suddenly a bit behind the times. But that wasn’t a situation that was ever going to last long, and, thanks to the company’s concerted effort to update or replace pretty much its entire model range as the Commodore slides quietly into oblivion, heavily upgraded versions of both have just arrived locally. Holden New Zealand is very proud of the fact that it has managed to keep the prices the same across both ranges, despite adding more equipment. The Barina starts at $23,990 for the LS and tops out at $25,990 for the LT, while the Trax range starts at $32,990 for the LS and features a new entrant in the range in the form of the$35,490 LT. At the head of the Trax range sits the LTZ at $36,990. All models of Barina and Trax are equipped with automatic transmissions. The sole engine in the Barina line up is a 1.6-litre that produces an unchanged 85kw of power and 155Nm of torque, hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, for the Trax, Holden has dropped the wheezy old 103kw/175nm 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine in favour of the far superior 103kw/200nm 1.4-litre turbo across the range. Previously, to get the good engine you had to buy the top-spec LTZ, but now it is standard across the range, along with the six-speed auto. Along with a new face, interior design, bonnet, headlights, taillights and rear bumper, the Barina LS comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, cruise control and automatic headlights, with the MY17 update adding rear park assist, a rear view camera, LED daytime running lights and a 7-inch touchscreen Mylink infotainment system that includes Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The LT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, artificial leather trim, heated seats, keyless entry and start, fog lamps, a leather steering wheel, and gear shifter and a trip computer. The Trax also gets a new face, interior, headlights, LED DRLS, rear fascia and taillights, with the LS kicking off the small SUV range with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth interior
trim, cruise control, rear park assist, a rear view camera, the Mylink infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto and a leather steering wheel as standard. The new mid-level LT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a cloth/pvc interior, a sunroof, front fog lamps, chrome exterior trim, front seat armrests, DAB digital radio and keyless entry and start. The LTZ tops the range with artificial leather heated seats, rain sensing wipers, turn signals in the door mirrors, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and LED taillights. The Barina’s new face is nicely handsome and mature looking, bringing a larger car presence to the small car and the interior changes are nice, if not exactly extensive, while the new dash gesture and colour has nicely done away with the reflection in the windscreen that annoyed in the last model. The same can be said of the Trax, but with more effort in the interior producing far nicer results, particularly over the last model. The new faces are handsome, but there is little family resemblance between the two, continuing with Holden’s new design direction of “all completely different.” The fact that the awful 1.8-litre engine is gone is probably the best news though. On the road, both feel broadly similar to their previous incarnations, which were always tight, competent and comfortable, and remain so. Both MY17 updates add better looks, extra equipment and upgrades in quality across the Barina and Trax range, although the Trax does get a far better interior upgrade than the Barina. While the new looks are good, the biggest news is the addition of the 1.4-litre turbo engine to the entry LS Trax. It is a slight shame that the Barina didn’t get similarly exciting engine-related news. Both remain pleasant enough to drive, with the additional equipment being a welcome arrival, particularly with prices remaining unchanged over 2016 models. The addition of Android Auto and Apple Carplay brings a similarly impressive boost in extras, with navigation through the phone being the biggest bonus here. While Holden hasn’t done any engineering, handling or performance upgrades to either, both still hold up well, although the Barina is still in need of a more modern powertrain, the Trax does well in the MY17 refresh. Handsome, comfortable and well equipped for the money, the Barina and Trax both make for compelling packages, with the Trax managing to be a bit more appealing, largely thanks to its brilliant little engine.