At a time when good news is hard to find, Holden has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the announcement that its well-priced Barina supermini has achieved a four-star rating in ANCAP crash tests
The rating applies to the 2009 model year Barina three-door hatch, and removes the major black mark against the Korean-designed car.
It doubles the ANCAP rating for the model. When it arrived in 2006, the TK Barina was rated at two stars in crash tests, a miserable result, and drew widespread criticism.
The Barina is based on the old Daewoo Kalos, a design that is long in the tooth – though GM Daewoo and Holden have freshened it more than once in the past few years – and dates from a time when high safety ratings weren’t such a priority.
The Daewoo-based Barina’s greatest sins were that it replaced a Barina that was a re-badged Opel Corsa, a small car that set high standards in active and passive safety and in driving dynamics. The Corsa-based Barina got a four-star rating in the 2001 ANCAP crash tests.
The Korean car fell way short of the German-designed older model Barina in both areas, though it was probably ahead in general build quality and dependability.
Holden says the new crash test rating reflects structural improvements and the addition of side impact airbags as standard across the updated Barina hatchback range which was introduced in August.
The Barina bodyshell has been redesigned with three clearly defined load paths intended to absorb the impact of an offset front-end accident and support the entire structure of the passenger cell over a large area.
High-strength steel has been used to reinforce the B-pillar behind the door opening. Side impact airbags are now standard for the driver and front passenger. They extend upwards to provide head and thorax protection.
Holden New Zealand boss, Simon Carr, says the ANCAP result is a welcome improvement because the Barina is an important and significant vehicle for Holden in the increasingly important small car market (it has sold 1885 since the TK model’s introduction in 2006).
AA general manager for technical services, Stella Stocks, echoes Carr’s comments. “Holden has been keen to improve the Barina’s safety performance, and ANCAP representatives met with the car's designers in Korea earlier this year,” she says,.
“Holden has put effort into improving the passenger compartment’s structure and reducing the risk of knee injury.
“Head-protecting side airbags can literally mean the difference between life and death in a crash. That’s reflected in the higher scores achieved in crash tests by vehicles equipped with these airbags.
Stocks says the improvements to the Barina demonstrate the value of ANCAP crash-testing in providing motorists with independent information on safety performance and driving consumer demand for safer vehicles.
“Ten years ago four star results were still rare and five star results were unheard of. Safety has become a higher priority for vehicle buyers, and manufacturers now routinely achieve four or five-star ratings in crash tests.”