Holden is upping Barina’s game with a new flagship version called CDX.
Base price: $26,990.
Powertrain and performance: 1.6-litre petrol four, 85kW/155Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 6.4 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4039mm long, 1517mm high, luggage capacity 290/653 litres, fuel tank 46 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Standout styling, six-speed automatic, spacious and practical.
We don’t like: Ordinary engine, budget feel, MyLink system needs to do more stuff
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Part of the appeal of the Holden Barina used to be low cost and simplicity: there was just one model available, at one price (albeit with manual or automatic transmission).
Now, Holden is upping Barina’s game with a new flagship version called CDX. It has bigger wheels, more equipment – and it’s the first Holden to feature a touch-screen system called MyLink, which brings together audio and telephone functions in an attractive-looking interface.
Which is impressive in a $27k car, but not headline stuff. However, MyLink also incorporates high-tech goodies like Internet radio, allowing you to control the likes of Pandora and Stitcher applications on your smartphone through the screen.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The Barina’s engine and chassis have always been competent but not inspiring. What injects genuine appeal into the driving experience is the six-speed automatic gearbox, which brings that modest engine alive and gives the Barina an advantage over some of the supermini competition.
The gearbox has been revamped for 2013 and in conjunction with electric power steering on the CDX (which has been calibrated specifically for the 17in wheel package) results in a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
Barina is clearly a car built down to a price, with a cabin full of hard plastics. But it does showcase some idiosyncratic styling, putting it into the cheap-but-cheerful category.
The pod-like instrument panel is said to be inspired by the world of motorcycles (not so sure about that, but at least it’s interesting), storage spaces abound and the interior is quite large for a car of supermini size.
What about MyLink? It’s visually attractive and great to use. If you don’t know Pandora and Stitcher, they are applications to allow you to stream radio over the Internet with content tailored to your own tastes – whether that be particular artists, genres or musical styles. They work well and the Barinas’s six-speaker audio system is pretty decent, but beware of your mobile account’s data rates: streaming radio eats up about 60MB per hour, so it could cost you serious money if you use it a lot.
Which is not the car’s fault, obviously. But still worth keeping in mind.
The MyLink screen would make even more sense if it had a sat-nav application (that will come in time, again driven by your cellphone) or even if it was used as the display for a reversing camera. Instead, the Barina CDX has a simple rear radar system.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
For engaging performance and handling in the supermini segment, you had best shop elsewhere. But Barina has always appealed as a strikingly styled, spacious and surprisingly practical little car at a sharp price, and that still applies.
The CDX simply adds a little sparkle – especially those larger alloy wheels, which really give the car a visual lift. MyLink alone won’t sell it, but it’s not supposed to. Barina is merely the vehicle for the launch of this technology, which has now been added to Cruze and will soon feature in the new VF Commodore.
Air conditioning: Manual
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Head-up display: No
Keyless entry/start: No/no
Parking radar: Rear
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Trip computer: Yes