Motorists who purchase the smallest cars almost invariably prefer automatic transmissions - which means you are potentially on a hiding to nothing if you offer only manuals.
Holden has suffered that problem with its little 1.2-litre 63kW/113Nm Barina Spark hatchback; but, from early next year, the problem is to be solved via the arrival of a newly facelifted model that will come complete with the choice of a four-speed auto.
Holden New Zealand managing director Jeff Murray told a media conference in Melbourne last week that availability of the auto for the smallest model in the marque's vehicle portfolio is big news.
"The intention was always to offer the choice of automatic transmission for the Spark, and now is the right time to do it," he said.
"Sales in the light-car segment have been increasing, and more and more buyers are opting for the automatic shift."
At present, autos account for 77 per cent of total sales in the segment.
The new Barina Spark CD auto will also offer Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel-mounted phone controls, electric power steering, remote key, hill- start assist, and a fuel-saving neutral idle feature.
The entire Spark range has also been facelifted, and gets a package of interior and exterior enhancements that include a new grille and lights, new 14-inch alloys, a body-coloured rear spoiler, changed instrument panel and steering wheel.
In the case of models that are painted Cocktail Green or Carbon Flash Black - interior trim and accents that are also Cocktail Green.
The auto also gets a motorcycle- inspired instrument cluster.
Recommended pricing for the Spark CD is $16,990 for the manual and $18,990 for the auto.
Meanwhile, pricing has been confirmed for Holden's new Barina CDX hatch which was previewed at the recent Australian Motor Show in Sydney. It will retail for $26,990, which is $2000 more than the Barina CD auto.
The Barina CDX, which is powered by an 85 kW 1.6-litre engine, also features an all-new Holden MyLink premium infotainment system.
MyLink offers a seven-inch colour touch screen radio capable of displaying music, videos, photos and contacts for hands-free calling.
All the Barina models get a new six- speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy by 10 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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