Sparks Will Fly, And They Did!

Posted: August 6, 2012 in All, Holden, New Car Reviews
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As I have mentioned before I am not huge fan of small cars but there are few that I do find to be quite fun to zip around in. The 2012 Holden Barina Spark is one of those cars. It’s nippy, comfortable, economical and has some very funky styling on the interior which is a massive change from the bland grey on grey most cars have.

As you would expect for a car in this class it’s not overly big on equipment but there are a couple of surprises in the Spark that I certainly didn’t expect to see. The comfortable and colourful seating were clad in grey and red Sportec trim but even more surprising than that was the heated seats. Usually an option saved for more luxurious cars it was a wee bit of a shock to see this fitted here, not that I’m complaining, I do like to have my butt cheeks toasted whilst heading off to work in the early hours of a chilly winter’s morning.

The funky, stand out, in your face instrument cluster which Holden say is inspired from motorcycles, will have to take their word on that one as I’m not overly close to many motorised bicycles, is great, clear and has buttons on top within easy reach for the trip computer and clock. Even though the inspiration did come from the two wheeled death traps it does work and is a break from the same old same old, sure is refreshing!

The outer parts of the Spark aren’t exactly boring either unlike others in the small car class, the funky taillights set it off nicely and the hidden rear door handles which seem to be a trend these days make the flanks of the car clean and smooth.

Now for the important bit, performance. A smooth 1.2 litre DOHC engine producing 59kW and 107Nm does the job well enough for those who will buy a car such as this but I did find it a tad sluggish, the previously tested Suzuki Splash also had a 1.2 litre DOHC power plant but the use of VVT (Variable Valve Timing) enabled it to produce 10kW more making a big difference in drivability. That being said, for ninety per cent of Spark buyers 59 kilowatts will be more than enough. With the engine being mated to a five speed manual box it is easy to milk as many of those kilowattages as possible, a light and responsive clutch makes changing through the cogs easy. A claimed 5.6 litres per 100 k’s also makes for fewer trips to the refuelling place.

As with many cars these days the Spark has many safety features such as 6 airbags, ESC incorporating ABS, EBD and traction control. Although all these don’t mean much if you get into a situation as I did encountering one Auckland’s many many unskilled automotive users. But it has to be said the Spark did stand up to a knock very well and that could be thanks to the fact that it does only weigh a smidge under a ton.

What happened? Well I was making my way through a round-a-bout heading straight through from the left lane, as is possible here, the ‘driver’ of the one and a half ton grey VW next to me thought it was ok to turn left from the right hand lane, never mind the fact that a bright red Barina Spark was on their left. Needless to say her VW’s front left bumper and guard came in contact with the front right guard and wheel of the Spark sending the little red hatch sliding to the left. I pulled the car to the side of the road, checked the kids in the back to see that they were okay, got ready to get out and do the usual exchange details thing only to look up and see the offending vehicle driving off. After checking the steering was still operational I headed off after the hideous VW Vento who’s ‘driver’ attempted to allude me by heading down a couple of side streets, fortunately the final street she pulled into happened to be a no exit. My first word to her was “What were you doing?” her response beggars belief “I was turning left”, “No sh*t, from the right hand lane!” that soon shut her up. Good news, she turned out to be one of the many drivers without insurance, but wait, there’s more, no licence either!

Anyway, back to the car. When it comes to small cars, as I’ve said before I’m not a fan, but if I was to find myself opting for one for whatever reason, a Barina Spark would certainly be at the top of my list. Economical, funky, different, comfortable and safe, what more does one need.  Oh and the price? One of the cheapest new cars out there, you could buy a second hand fuel guzzler for 20k or you could save on fuel and get a new Spark for as low as $16,990+ORC for the Spark CD or $19,490+ORC for the CDX (as tested). Bargain.

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