Kia Optima GT
As part of Holden’s concerted effort to release 24 new or refreshed models by 2020, the venerable Barina has recently come in for a significant refresh. Damian O’carroll reports.
Part of the local Holden line up since 1985 – it was even being assembled in New Zealand at one stage – the Barina has, like all small cars, faced the pressure of a shrinking small car segment, while small SUV’S explode in popularity. Which, of course, means the Barina has in-house competition in the form of the also recently refreshed Trax, but Holden hasn’t left the Barina to wither on the vine, giving it a new face and a few other tweaks for 2017. Starting with that new face, it has to be said that the new look is a huge improvement, and the old nose was actually a good looking little thing to begin with! While a big car face on a small car doesn’t always work, it does work very well indeed on the Barina. Added to the new face, the new alloy wheel design looks particularly good as well. Up the back things don’t work quite so well, however, with the new taillights looking okay on our black test car, but the gloss black surrounds are a bit heavyhanded on other colours. The Barina has also had a light refresh on the inside with the interior looking great and being nicely laid out. Holden’s excellent Mylink touchscreen infotainment system still dominates the dash, but this time comes complete with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which are both beautifully integrated. The seats are comfortable and nicely supportive, but there is still WAY too many hard plastics used that cheapen the experience, while the artificial leather is a bit cheap feeling as well. Out on the road the Barina’s 1.6-litre engine is powerful enough and relatively refined, but still has an unfortunate tendency to get thrashy and coarse up in the revs, while the six-speed automatic