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.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

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

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