Updates improved in specs and style for Holden

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The updated version of the Holden Trax. Photos: Richard Bosselman.

For Holden, this year is about the Commodore seeing out the current car and introducing the new _ but, at present, two small matters are also occupying the company.

The Barina and Trax are platform-sharing compact models of significant status: both achieved 9% share of the total new-vehicle market this year. Their midlife facelifts also almost coincide.

Market-share equality is also potentially fleeting. The rising taste for crossovers is boosting the Trax the category in which it is placed has doubled since it was introduced in 2013 and Holden sees it as a star in ascendance. More growth is assured. The only unknown is how much. It's a hot property.

The temperature is cooler with the Barina. For the light-car segment, a 9% slice is about 2% down on last year, and there's the impression that it might continue to fall.

Platforms, existing powertrains and prices carry over, but specifications have strengthened a little, the Barina family is smaller (with sedan and RS hatch gone), badging has changed to the passenger-car nomenclature of LS, LT and LTZ (for the Trax) and there's clearly been some restyling inside and out.

Holden is keen to reinforce that the Barina's update was the work of GM Australia design, with inspiration from the Camaro. The Trax's more aggressively styled nose and lightly reworked tail is also to Chevrolet taste. Both present well-timed improvement.

The Barina's controversial motorcycle-like instrument cluster has been dropped for a more traditional setup. The centre stack has a larger touchscreen and, like the Trax, takes the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto interface that already features in the Spark. The Barina also takes a reversing camera and rear parking sensors and the LT adds keyless entry and start, a leather steering wheel, Sportec seat trim, heated front seats and an upgrade from 16-inch to 17-inch alloy wheels.

Despite its vaguely off-roader image, the Trax continues in front-drive format only, but it looks funkier now. The infotainment revision is the biggest interior change. It's a pity Holden's update didn't reach to the Chevrolet level, where the car has 4G internet connectivity with the option of acting as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

The Trax also matches the Barina in adopting a snazzier interior now, although when it comes to trim materials, the larger, cheaper Barina is better. As kitsch as fake carbon fibre textures are, they're visually more appealing than the hard grey plastics the Trax remains lumbered with.

The Trax now has rear-parking radar and a reversing camera. The LT divests the entry car's 16-inch alloys for 18s, a size shared with the LTZ, and gets keyless entry and start, but you need to buy into the LTZ to access blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert and some visual difference in the form of turn-signal side mirrors and LED taillights.

Driving attitude is class-average. The Trax has a more compliant ride but both would benefit from more communicative steering and they're busy on ripply coarse chip. The turbocharged 1.4-litre engine of the Trax is more lively than the non-turbocharged 1.6 of the Barina, of course, and works more sweetly with the six-speed auto and has a better note, too.

Updates improved in specs and style for Holden
At a Glance
HOLDEN TRAX

Price: LS $33,990; LT $35,490; LTZ $36,990
Engine: 1364cc DOHC 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, maximum power 103kW at 4900rpm; maximum torque
200Nm at 1850rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Brakes and stability systems: Disc/drum brakes,
ABS, ESC, EBD, TCS, hill start assist
Safety rating: Five-star Ancap
Wheels, tyres: 205/70 R16 to 215/55 R18
Fuel and economy: 6.9 litres per 100km on EU combined cycle, capacity 53 litres
Emissions: CO2 163 g/km on combined cycle
Dimensions: Length 4278mm, width 1776mm,
height 1674mm


HOLDEN BARINA

Price: LS $23,990; LT $25,990
Engine: 1598cc four-cylinder fuel-injected dual overhead camshaft petrol, maximum power 85kW at 6000rpm, maximum
torque 155Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual,
six-speed automatic
Brakes and stability systems: Disc/drum brakes,
ABS, BA, EBD, TCS
Safety rating: Five-star Ancap
Wheels, tyres: 205/55 R16 to 205/50 R17
Fuel and economy: 6.8/7.3 (manual/auto) litres per 100km (on ADR combined cycle), capacity 46 litres
Emissions: CO2 128 g/km on combined cycle
Dimensions: Length 4039mm, width 1735mm,
height 1517mm.