The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

Holden had a lot of ground to make up when it launched the TM Barina in 2011 — the pre­vi­ous model had been widely panned for its poor qual­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and safety.

About the only pos­i­tive thing you could say about the TK Barina was that it was cheap but thank­fully things im­proved with the TM and it’s a bet­ter de­vice than its unloved pre­de­ces­sor.

The new model was avail­able as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatch, there were dif­fer­ent lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment, start­ing with the en­try-level Barina, fol­lowed by the CD, CDX and a sporty RS.

The cabin was one of the roomi­est in the class with de­cent legroom room for front oc­cu­pants and enough room for those con­signed to the rear seat not to feel too un­com­fort­able.

The boot was on par with other small cars but fold­ing the rear seats dou­bled the space if needed.

All vari­ants were pow­ered by a 1.6-litre four-cylin­der en­gine, car­ried over from the pre­vi­ous model, but with ad­di­tional and much-needed power and torque.

An­other crit­i­cal im­prove­ment was the in­tro­duc­tion of a six-speed auto in place of the pre­vi­ous model’s four-speed.

The ex­tra ra­tios made a much bet­ter match with the en­gine, turn­ing the TM into a more agree­able drive.

On the road the Barina was pleas­ant rather than thrilling, but few peo­ple buy­ing a car for point-to-point trans­port would look for sports car-style han­dling.

The pre­vi­ous model had copped just a two-star ANCAP rat­ing, putting it on the nose with shop­pers, so the news of a five-star rat­ing for the TM was wel­come all around.

The top-of-the-class safety tick came courtesy of dual front, side and cur­tain airbags, pre-ten­sion­ers for the front seat belts, anti-lock brakes with emer­gency as­sist and elec­tronic distri­bu­tion, and best of all, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. De­spite the im­prove­ments the hor­ror sto­ries con­tinue to flow from dis­grun­tled own­ers. It seems a case of love it or loathe it, as some own­ers say they are more than happy, even de­lighted with their cars.

The mes­sage for any­one shop­ping for a used Barina is to be very care­ful and thor­oughly check any car you’re con­sid­er­ing buy­ing. If you aren’t con­fi­dent in your own abil­ity to carry out the check, have a me­chanic do it for you.

One of the con­se­quences of be­ing bought be­cause it was cheap can be that an owner on a tight bud­get can be tempted to skimp on ser­vic­ing.

The rec­om­mended ser­vice in­ter­vals for the TM are 12 months/15,000km and the cam tim­ing belt should be re­placed at 10 years/160,000km.

Al­ways check a car’s ser­vice record, it’s a good guide to how it has been treated. Skipped ser­vices should be a warn­ing that a car has been ne­glected.

Me­chan­ics re­port oil leaks as be­ing com­mon and also say that de­spite its size the Barina can be quite hard on brakes and tyres. Check that all switches and electrics work.

The Barina has been sub­ject to a num­ber of re­calls, the lat­est in Jan­uary, for an in­cor­rectly sized fuel pump O-ring seal that could re­sult in a fire.

A re­call two years ago was for a worn ig­ni­tion key cylin­der that could cause the en­gine to crank even when the key is in the off po­si­tion. An­other in the same year was to cor­rect a fault whereby the brake lights could come on when the brakes are not ap­plied and switch off the cruise con­trol in the process.

Be­fore buy­ing a Barina check that all the rel­e­vant re­call re­work has been done.

It’s at­trac­tive, roomy and nippy. In two years it’s given no trou­ble at all. Love it.

It’s a gem. Do you own or have you owned a

Share your ex­pe­ri­ence with other Carsguide read­ers by send­ing your com­ments to Gra­ham Smith at [email protected]­pond. com or write to Carsguide, PO Box 4245, Syd­ney, NSW 2010. Sur­pris­ingly spa­cious inside, holds its own on the high­way and has been very re­li­able.

Our 2013 CDX has done 60,000km. It vi­brates, is noisy, isn’t nice to drive and the en­gine has a flat spot the dealer can’t fix.

A lemon. Un­safe, un­re­li­able, rub­bish.

It looks good, it’s eco­nom­i­cal, roomy inside, and has all the fea­tures I want. Im­proved but hor­ror sto­ries from own­ers sug­gest buy­ers should be wary.

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