1998 Holden Barina City from Australia and New Zealand


Reliable, but a small cabin and a lack of acceleration.


Passenger side door locking mechanism had to be replaced, at a cost of $600.

Plastic fittings inside car, keep falling off.

Air-conditioning refuses to work.

Windows won't wind all the way down.

Back seat continually gets stuck when adjusting, and mechanisms have to be replaced, which is expensive.

General Comments:

A very reliable little car mechanically wise. It has never broken down.

Fixtures inside the car tend to fall off, but this doesn't effect the actual reliability of the driving.

Tends to be very sluggish driving. A real lack of power.

Very good turning circle. Can fit easily into small parking spaces.

The small foot pedals and cabin size suits a small person. Probably really meant for girls. My male big feet tend to catch on two pedals at once. Not much elbow space at all.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 17th February, 2005

1998 Holden Barina SB 1.4 from Australia and New Zealand


Expected better!!


Since new, minor things have gone wrong... up until now. The air con hardly works, the car, when driven for roughly 45 minutes gets too hot, and stalls whenever the clutch is depressed, then the speedometer needle drops, so I can't tell what speed I am doing. The lights under the air con controls don't work anymore, also the rear window washer sprays water inside the car. The obvious exterior problems of fading wheel arches and interior seat hinge covers (3 door) fall of when seats are put forward. There is so much more I am sure, but for now this will do.

General Comments:

Seriously consider something from Japan first.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 6th December, 2004

1998 Holden Barina SB 1.4 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Sophistication and reliability


Only general wear and tear. Replaced the halogen headlights with normal ones when one blew (too expensive to replace halogens).

Paintwork had faded and bubbled and had some touched up after purchasing it.

Flares had started to go white. Painted them with tire black, good as new now.

General Comments:

This car is really comfortable and surprisingly powerful (until you load it up with people). Feels a lot bigger than it is and it holds the road really well. It is a dream to park with the power steering. A very economical car and really pretty too!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th August, 2004

1998 Holden Barina 1.4 City 1.4 from Australia and New Zealand


This car is great as a second car, for commuting economically and with great reliability


Only a few minor electrical items such as rear bulbs and switchgear lighting.

Regular servicing items such as brake pads, tyres, battery and wiper blades have been replaced, however no major items have given any trouble at all, despite a high mileage.

The rear wheel bearings are beginning to get noisy and will need replacing within the next 50,000km.

General Comments:

This car has been completely reliable and still travels approx 800 - 1000km per week.

Performance is adequate for my type of driving, however I have found that it gets a lot worse in the hot weather. This is nothing to do with the air conditioner, as this is on nearly all the time. It just seems much more sluggish when the temp gets above about 28 degrees C.

Paintwork on my silver car is looking pretty shabby, with quite a bit of fading and scuff marks.

Economical to run.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th March, 2004

1998 Holden Barina City 1.4 from Australia and New Zealand


The cutest, cheapest best car ever


It is like new, however, it stalled on me once on a round about for no unknown reason. The car has been professional checked and is fine. But nothing major has gone wrong with this car. I am very happy with it. I have been able to rely on it for long distances.

General Comments:

This car is great, very cheap to run and perfect for me because I'm only a small female, however, the pedals are ridiculously close and everyone who drives it has to take off their shoes so they don't press the brake and accelerator at the same time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th September, 2002

1998 Holden Barina City 1.4 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Worst car ever


Where to start?

The car felt bad from the start, I should have known what was to come, as when trying to accelerate I found that my right foot hit either the inside of the wheel arch or the brake pedal. My left foot would also hit the steering column when depressing the clutch.

The gearshift was terrible, both notchy and rubbery. I have never felt anything like it.

The wheel arches were faded.

The air conditioning never worked properly.

The lights in the heater controls blew and the mechanic had to break the switches just to get to them.

The car overheated at lights. Turned out the radiator had become blocked because the coolant in the cars didn't mix well with Australian water and turned into a sludge of some kind. The radiator had to be removed and flushed out.

The car overheated again. This time blowing the head gasket. Again the radiator was blocked. Got a new radiator. When the mechanic re-fitted the head, the front pulley was not tightened up properly and came off while driving. The car died. Turns out the lower crank gear also came off and the belt for the camshaft came off too. The car was towed to the dealership. It turns out the engine now had bent valves in the head so it had to be removed again.

The rear wheels were partially dragging and wore out the rear shoes in 20,000km. Rear shoes and wheel cylinders were replaced. Shoes were not expensive, but the wheel cylinders were well over $100 each.

There's more, but I just can't remember. Perhaps I am trying to block out all the bad memories of this car.

General Comments:

This is the worst car EVER made bar none. Terrible to drive and a disaster waiting to happen.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 5th February, 2002

22nd Sep 2003, 23:22

We had our Barina towed 13 times in the first two years with overheating problems, gasket problems, seals etc. The last service cost us over $2,000.00 for the head machining and oil leak fixes. We still have problems, and in hindsight should have got rid of it ages ago. With the money we have spent, I figure it must be getting close to being fixed. Friends of ours also have a Barina and not a single problem. We are not impressed with the car or Holden's service, where all our service work was done until the end of the extended warranty.

Paul S.

8th Sep 2006, 08:00

I have owned a SB Barina (1998) since new. I was the first owner. It has never missed a beat (very smooth engine).

Totally reliable, solid little car (compare to others in the same class from the same build date, it's no contest in the Barinas favour).

So I'd suggest these Barinas with issues have been abused.

8 years later I am about to trade on a CDTi Astra.

23rd Oct 2013, 06:48

I'm inclined to agree. I bought my latest 1998 1.4 SB Barina second hand, knowing it had a blown head gasket. Actually I'm the third owner.

When we pulled it down, the oil was so compacted in one of the back hoses that it was totally solid, which indicates one of the two prior owners probably never changed the oil. It also had a blown water pump, and looks like it was running with this leak for ages.

What I have discovered though, is that whenever I've taken a Holden to a Holden dealer for a service, they always find that the brake pads need to be changed and a swag of other things need to be done.

I have the sneaking suspicion that Holden dealers at least use the service process as their main means of income, which is why we did the head gasket ourselves, despite not having any prior mechanical experience. All you need is a good instruction book, and research the Internet videos on the topic.