Now small cars like the Barina CDX have never really tickled my joy metre for a number of reasons,they are small and I am not so I’ve always had an issue getting in them and being comfortable in them, they have always been boring to drive and never had a high equipment level.
But over the last couple of years small cars have changed, the equipment levels have increased the room on the inside has gotten bigger it’s like the small cars are starting to grow up.
Now I decided it was time I see if the new generation of small cars could change my perception. To do this I decided to take a Holden Barina CDX for spin.
First thing you notice about the Barina is it’s looks, the light car class is full of very uninteresting and very dull looking cars. In my opinion a whole bunch of grey in a see of grey, but the Holden Barina on the other hand really stands out to me.
The individual headlight bezels and the shape of the head lights in general give the Barina an aggressive looking front end giving it a kind of an Angry Ant look.
The lines down the side that go from the front wheel arch and curve up behind the trim on the back doors, really add to the look the hidden back door handles give it a somewhat 2 door look that I really like. The shapely rear end and round lights added with the five spoke 17 inch alloy wheels complete the package that i found very attractive.
Being the top of the Barina tree the CDX Barina is extremely well equip on the inside the sportec covered seats are comfortable even for someone like me who is on the large size. The front seats have a bonus of being heated which means no cold buns on a cold morning. Which work extremely well and were one of the my daughter Madies favourite features on the car. The back seat was also well shaped and comfortable, being hatch it has reasonable amount of room 209 litres which increases to 502 Litres with the back seats folded down.
The first thing you do notice when you get into the Barina is the motorcycle inspired instrument cluster featuring a large tacho and digital speedo and fuel gauge the ice blue backlighting which looks really good and was extremely easy to read at all times. The CDX also gets a trip computer which displays average fuel consumption, average speed, distance to empty and trip time.
The leather covered steering wheel is rather comfortable to hold, and features buttons for the audio system, cruise control and Bluetooth. Which gives you complete control of the Cruise Control, audio system and your phone allowing you to answer and end calls all without taking your hands off the wheel.
The dash is made up of grey coloured hard plastic which didn’t actually worry me as I very rarely go running my hands across the dash but it does remind you its at the cheaper end of the market.
The centre stack though takes up most of your attention anyway, the 7 inch colour touch screen featuring Holden’s new Holden MyLink infotainment system. I’ve sample mylink on a couple of cars now and think it works exceptionally well, the Bluetooth audio streaming allows you to listen to the music on your phone, but also lets you use mobile apps such as Stitcher and Pandora which allow you to stream music from the internet if you have an internet enabled smartphone. I’ve been using Pandora at home for a while now and really love it you can start your own radio station which will play tracks according to your music tastes, if a song comes on you like you give it the thumbs and that will be added to your play list if a song comes up you don’t like all you do is give it the thumbs down and you will never hear it again. Once your phone is paired to the mylink system you can access your phones contact list and calls list so you can make and recieve calls while your phone is stored in the handy tray in the double glove box which also contains the USB input.
The USB input allows you to plug in a flash drive with your favourite music on it but you can also watch your favourite movies while parked.
The Barina also has lots of storage room including twin cut holders in the console, the leather wrapped gear lever has a nice feel to it, the sprts shift function is made avaliable through a switch on the side of the shifter but I did find that rather gimacky though.
Under the bonnet the Barina is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6L 4 cylinder delivering a modest 85kw and 155nm of torque but in saying that there is nothing the light car segment that’s going to blessed with a huge amount of power anyway.
It will get along with traffic quite easily but it’s defiantely not going to win any strong man competitions, I found the engine peppy and loved how it really wanted to rev but the modest power output gave me the feeling it was putting on a lot more show then go.
Fuel economy was really a mixed bag I purposely tried to drive economically for the whole week but I struggled to get it under 10L per 100km, whether that was from the bumper to bumper traffic, the fact that I do suffer from concretitist of the right foot at times or that with a kerb weight of 1220kg it’s a little porky compared to other cars in its class.
I found the 6 speed auto well suited to engine the shifts were nice and really I didn’t notice them at all while driving along, the transmission also features a sportshift function used via the afore mentioned buttons on the side of the shifter.
The McPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension make the Barina rather agile but I did find it a little bumpy on the typical crappy Sydney roads although not enough to make it uncomfortable. The sticky Continental tyres really add to the handling giving the Barina exceptional grip.
Safety wise the Barina has a 5 star ANCAP and is packed full of safety features including ABS, ESC, Traction Control and 6 airbags, it also had rear parking sensors which work great but no rear view camera.
After a week in the Barina CDX it has changed my opinion of light cars it’s high equipment level, it’s easy to park handles rather well and would make a great comfortable to drive to work every day, someone with a lighter right foot would be able to get better economy from it as well.
The Barina CDX really makes a great choice for anyone looking for a smaller 2nd car, a car to drive to work everyday or somebody downsizing but wanting something that has a real decent amount of equipment, the Holden Mylink system is a dream to use very easy to set up and the 6 speakers give it great sound for a factory system. If you don’t have the Barina CDX on your list then you should put it on there for sure.
My only big gripe which other people might not find important was the lack of power I would love to see Holden bring out an SRi version with the 1.4L turbo engine from the Cruze which would really give it some go to match it’s sporty aggressive looks.
To check out the full Barina range visit Holden’s website http://www.holden.com.au big thanks to Holden for lending me the Barina CDX for the week.