AUCKLAND, NZ. Holden's new Barina, a re-badged version of the Opel Corsa, is bigger, roomier, more agile and better to drive than the car it replaces.
The car - on sale here at the end of this month - is the first re-design of the Barina for seven years.
Holden is marketing the Barina in three-door and five-door hatchback configurations. Both are powered by a 1.4 litre DOHC ECOTEC engine which delivers better power and torque, greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
Standard equipment for both models includes four-wheel disc brakes, air-conditioning, driver and front passenger airbags, speed-dependent electric power steering and steering wheel-mounted sound system controls.
The new Barina (dubbed the XC Series) is longer, wider and taller and it's styling is an updated evolution of the existing model's.
Its slightly flared wheelarches running straight into front and rear body sections emphasise the wider stance. The segmented tail lights are positioned high on the rear window pillars. There are six paint finishes new to the range.
Aerodynamic efficiency is six percent better, helping make the car quieter and more fuel-efficient.
Seating has been completely re-designed, and front seat shoulder width is 80mm better in the three-door and by 75mm better in the five-door. Front seat occupants have 15mm more headroom. Rear seat legroom is 6mm greater.
Small item storage includes pen holders in the glovebox, a drawer beneath the front passenger seat (five-door model), sunvisor document pockets, door bins, cup holders and seatback hooks for shopping bags.
With the rear seatbacks upright, the load volume is 260 litres. With the 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks fully folded, the maximum load area is 1060 litres.
The bodyshell is 33 percent more rigid in torsion, and is designed to absorb crash energy better. An optimised front end deformation zone is complemented by a rigid passenger safety cell. A new chassis sub-frame like the Holden Astra's serves as an additional collision load path.
Strong lateral structure is designed to route side impact forces to the other side of the vehicle. In a rear impact, high-strength steel side rails absorb crash forces.
The cars have active head restraints to further reduce the risk of whiplash; and a pedal release system is designed so that brake and clutch pedals will disengage from their anchor points in a severe impact.
The airbags have a new radial fold pattern for a more uniform spread and better protection. Seatbelts have belt-force limiters as well as pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and sash height adjustment.
Holden says the stiffer bodyshell and the closed chassis sub-frame that accommodates suspension pivots and steering gear, ensure better feel and feedback in ride and handling. The car's wider track (1417mm front, 1408mm rear), longer wheelbase (extended 48mm to 2491mm), and self-stabilising chassis also improve handling.
The MacPherson strut front suspension has specially tuned damping bushings for more precise wheel control and a complex hydro-mount that increases refinement by cushioning jolts. The more rigid torsion-beam rear suspension with trailing arms and coil springs is adopted from the Holden Astra.
Front brakes are ventilated 260mm diameter discs. Rear discs are 240mm. The wheels are now 14-inch and tyres are bigger and wider.
The 16-valve 1400cc motor develops 66kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 120Nm at 4000rpm.
It has a drive-by-wire electronic throttle.
Holden says the new motor is between three and seven percent more fuel-efficient. The five-speed manual gearbox shifts more precisely and is smoother. The four-speed electronic control automatic transmission has a fuel-saving neutral idle feature which automatically shifts the transmission into neutral when the car is at a standstill with the brake pedal depressed. It back into gear when the brake is released.
The two-stage central locking is remotely-controlled and the Blaupunkt sound system has a single disc Compact Disc player and 80-watt six-speaker combination.
Standard Barina features include a load area cover, manual headlamp level adjustment, headlamps-on audible warning, service reminder, tinted windows, body coloured bumpers, side mouldings and driver and passenger vanity mirrors.
The five-door also has steering wheel and driver's seat height adjustment, colour-coded interior trim (not applicable to vehicles painted in Magma Red, Corn Yellow or Aruba Blue), front and rear spotlights and a driving/sunglasses storage box.
The door locking and engine immobilising device has a rolling security code. Doors can be remotely deadlocked and locks are protected by inside covers. Freewheeling door and steering lock cylinders prevent forcing, radios are security-coded. The remote unlock function automatically activates interior lights.