Holden Barina Sedan 2012 Review

Holden Barina Sedan 2012 Review

We reviewed the hatchback Barina back in December, so what’s the big deal with the new sedan version? Well, the big deal is the voluminous boot. It’s large enough for you to take up a career as a mafia hitman and not bother driving to the woods between targets. In fact, at a whopping 502 litres, it’s bigger than a Commodore’s boot by six litres.

Despite its new-found booty, it’s manoeuvrable, and easy to judge the corners. I had a gig at Cornwall Park on a very sunny day and I managed to park the Barina in a space 12 inches longer than the car (if that), even without parking sensors. The omission of parking sensors is annoying, though. All cars should have them these days.

Quite often when you take a hatchback and stick on a boot the result looks like you’ve taken the cutest little Maltese cross and strapped a beer fridge to its backside. This isn’t the case with the Barina. Aside from looking a little blunt at the front end, the lines work really well, with the rear window segueing nicely into the boot lid. The strong crease in the flank and the line across the boot combine with the stubby nose to give a sense of forward motion when standing still. The naked headlights give the Barina a styling edge and the whole aura of the car has gone from a definitely

feminine vehicle in its last version (which was only as a hatchback) to one that is very neutral.

On the inside, you know you’re in a budget car: acres of grey do the job, and the plastics aren’t too bad. The seats are supportive enough and there are plenty of cup/bottle holders and cruise control. Storage options are excellent with the double-decker glovebox (the top one has auxiliary inputs for an iPod or other music device), plus two useful receptacles either side of the stereo. An excellent inclusion is the steering wheel that’s adjustable for both height and rake.

The stereo is a 4-speaker number which, as well as the aforementioned iPod or auxiliary device (even a Flash card) has a CD player and a large number of memory slots for radio stations (something that’s great in New Zealand’s overcrowded radio landscape).

To drive, it doesn’t feel as nippy as the hatchback, but it’s still capable of cruising well and as long as you plan your overtaking, it will make good progress on longer journeys. There is a manual mode that’s engaged by pulling the gear stick down into M and using the up/down buttons on the side of the gearstick. This is not as unusual as it sounds and was quick and simple to get used to. 85kW isn’t a great deal, but the Barina makes good use of it. Acceleration is noisy and you will need to rev the engine round to the limiter to give any real sense of urge.

One thing that was slightly odd with the accelerator feel was that sometimes the Barina felt like it didn’t quite engage a gear, but would then suddenly take off. This was especially noticeable going from reverse to first.

It comes as standard with the usual electronic aids like traction control, anti-lock brakes and brake assist. The instrument cluster is easy to read and is inspired from motorbike instruments. The tacho is large and sits to the left of the digital speedo and everything’s illuminated a pleasant blue.

Could you live with the Barina? If you have a small family and you need boot space to carry the necessities for your kids’ activities, it’s a winner. It’s tidy around town (though could do with parking sensors), and on a jaunt to Coromandel and back it was only left wanting a little more power on the steeper hills. In summary, you’ve got a pretty good looking budget priced vehicle with a sizeable boot and excellent storage options that is genuinely capable of taking a family on holiday.


  • Enormous 502-litre boot makes larger cars’ boots look tiny
  • Looks good, even with the boot grafted on.
  • Reasonable handling for this class of car


  • Noisy, especially during acceleration
  • Accelerator feel isn’t perfect – can be jerky sometimes, and other times unwilling at low speeds and takeoff

Price: $24,990

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham



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