Barina revisions mostly at face value

Updates to the Barina compact car have been revealed.


DESIGN revisions to the Barina and news that the sedan version has been dropped has emerged from Australia ahead of the car’s local market entry.

Media are gathering on Thursday to experience the car, yet while Holden New Zealand is still keeping its pricing for the updated model to itself, the specification and styling change story is already out in the open, courtesy of the parent in Melbourne having briefed Australian media yesterday.

Holden is especially keen to reinforce that the mid-life update was the work of GM Australia design, based at Port Melbourne.

The new look features a new front end treatment - with a new grille and signature LED daytime running lights – was inspired by the Camaro sportscar, which some say could be set to become a future Holden once Holden ceases being an Australian manufacturer at the end of 2017.

The official take on the association, however, is that the new face was required because this car sells in the United States as a Chevrolet, the Sonic.

The styling changes are not all up front. The Barina also gains smoked tail-lights and it appears to feature a new wheel design.

The Holden rework also affects the interior, where the controversial motorcycle-like instrument cluster has gone. Now there’s a more traditional setup. The centre stack has also been subtly restyled, with a larger touch screen and the introduction of the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto interface that already features in the Spark. Barina also takes a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Also standard on the base LS is a colour touchscreen, automatic headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels. The LT adds keyless entry and start, a leather steering wheel, Sportec seat trim, heated front seats and an upgrade to 17-inch alloy wheels.

Holden has not made any changes under the bonnet, so it continues with a 85kW/155Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that consumes 6.8 litres of fuel per 100km in manual guise or 6.7L for the auto.

Holden Australia says the sedan was ditched because of slow sales.

The line-up has also been trimmed down from CD, CDX and sporty RS variants, with Holden now adopting the passenger car nomenclature of LS and LT for the updated model. 

In material emailed to media, GM Australia’s exterior design manager Justin Thompson said the company aimed to give the Barina a mature new look.

“It was time for the Barina to grow up at bit and expand its global appeal beyond the young adult market,” he said.

“We were challenged to explore what Barina could be; to create a more athletic exterior whilst providing an interior that people can enjoy their time in.

“Barina has always been a fun-to-drive car and we wanted to somehow maintain that quality but also offer a more mature and sophisticated design for a more complete package overall,” he said.

“With its trademark wheels-at-the-corners stance and dramatic changes to its front grille and fascia, Barina’s design really points to its pleasurable driving dynamics and technology inside.”

In the two years since it announced intention to stop building cars in Australia, Holden has sought to leave impression that it will still have a hand in tailoring import product’s suspension tune to ensure best conformity with “local conditions.” The most recent examples of this were the Colorado ute and Spark.

However, that claim is not made for Barina. It seems the car arrives in Australia – and New Zealand – without engineering influence from the brand.

That also seems to be the case with the updated Trax, which is also being revealed to New Zealand media on Thursday.