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Holden’s Smallest Car Grows Up

Thursday, May 3, 2001

The first all-new Holden Barina to be introduced in seven years incorporates leading edge features that reflect significant advances in design and engineering technology. It is larger and roomier than before and delivers dynamic new standards of refinement, comfort, all-round driving enjoyment and safety contained in a sophisticated styling package.

Internationally, the new Barina has enjoyed a highly successful sales debut when it premiered late last year. When the car - the smallest in Holden’s product range - goes on sale in New Zealand later this month, the company expects that the combination of European design, great driving dynamics, strong chassis construction, excellent safety technology and low operating costs will find favour with kiwis also.

Barina is available in a choice of two model configurations: three-door and five-door hatchback. They share the same well-integrated design and are powered by a smooth performing and responsive 1.4 litre DOHC ECOTEC engine that delivers improved power and torque, greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Specification levels are high. Standard equipment listings for both models include such items as four wheel power disc brakes, air conditioning, driver and front passenger air bags, speed-dependent electric power steering and steering wheel-mounted sound system controls.

Style and Space:

The design of the all-new Barina (dubbed the XC Series) - it is now longer, wider and taller - is characterised by flowing, athletic lines which accentuate its European heritage and maintains its distinctive brand identity.

Front-end styling, with a strongly contoured engine hood and trapezoidal radiator grille, is clearly evolutionary. Slightly flared wheel arches running straight into front and rear body sections emphasise Barina’s wider stance, and a bold rear end treatment featuring segmented tail lamps positioned high on the rear window pillars create a distinctive effect. There are six paint finishes new to the range.

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Aerodynamic efficiency is a keynote of the new Barina’s design, and its slippery shape has been optimised to offer six per cent less headwind resistance than its predecessor - a benefit that translates directly into a quieter driving environment and greater fuel saving.

Within the passenger compartment, designers have maximised the increase in Barina body dimensions to create a new sensation of spaciousness, emphasised by intelligent packaging. The open, clearly laid out interior features quality finishes, completely re-designed seating and a driver-friendly ergonomic cockpit design. Shoulder width in the front is extended by 80 mm in the three-door Barina and by 75 mm in the five-door model. Front seat occupants have 15 mm more headroom while legroom in the rear is stretched a further 6 mm.

Clever solutions for small item storage include integrated pen holders in the glovebox, a drawer beneath the front passenger seat (five-door model), sunvisor document pockets, door bins, cup holders and seatback hooks for shopping bags.

The increased luggage and general load carrying capability is both versatile and practical. With five seats in use, the load volume is 260 litres - and both Barinas have 60/40 split fold rear seatbacks.

To accommodate bulkier objects, the rear seat back can be folded down in separate sections and fixed at two different angles. When the rear seats are fully folded, the maximum load area capacity is 1060 litres.

Safety and Strength:

The Holden Barina offers significant levels of all-round safety performance in a small car - the outcome of an intensive development programme aimed at achieving the best possible results in a wide range of accident situations.

A robust, all-new body structure is responsible for a 33 per cent increase in torsional rigidity and improved energy absorption properties. In head-on collisions, three load paths share the task of managing crash energy, and this optimised front end deformation zone is complemented by a rigid passenger safety cell. A new chassis sub-frame, similar to that of the Holden Astra, serves as an additional collision load path.

In side impacts, the strong lateral structure is designed to route incoming forces to the other side of the vehicle. In a rear impact, high-strength steel side rails absorb crash forces.

The list of standard occupant protection systems on both models is one of the most comprehensive ever offered on a car in this segment including active head restraints, which further reduce the risk of whiplash injury. Protection to lower limbs is increased by a pedal release system, designed so that brake and clutch pedals will disengage from their anchor points in the event of a severe impact.

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Standard driver and front passenger air bags feature a new radial fold pattern for a more uniform spread and better protection. Seat belts now have belt-force limiters - which act instantly to reduce pressures on the upper body - in addition to pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and sash height adjustment.

Vehicle Dynamics:

The new Barina delivers agile handling and dynamic stability previously reserved for cars of larger size and greater cost. This superior driving experience comes courtesy of several advanced chassis engineering concepts that have been successfully applied to the car’s larger sibling - the Holden Astra.

Barina’s stiffer body construction and a forward structure supported by a closed chassis sub-frame that also accommodates suspension pivots and steering gear, ensure better feel and feedback in ride and handling. Its wider track (1417 mm front, 1408 mm rear) and longer wheelbase, now extended by 48 mm to 2491 mm, and the new self-stabilising chassis also make for safer, more precise handling.

The DSA (Dynamic Safety) chassis allows drivers to retain control and hold a driving line, even in critical situations. Barina features MacPherson strut front suspension with specially tuned damping bushings for more precise wheel control and a complex hydro-mount that increases refinement by cushioning jolts and disturbances. Adopted from the Holden Astra, more rigid torsion-beam rear suspension with trailing arms and coil springs also adds to Barina’s sporty handling attributes.

Power-assisted disc brakes all round - front ventilated 260 mm diameter and 240 mm rear discs - provide Barina’s stopping power. The brake booster is increased in size for a safe “feel’ and low pedal effort. Larger 14-inch wheels and bigger, wider tyres selected and tuned to match Barina’s handling, play a complementary role in reducing braking distance.

The fitment of speed-dependent electric power steering as standard is another major advancement. It takes the effort out of turning the wheel when parking, yet retains a good feel during straight-ahead driving at higher speeds when little power assistance is required. Because the system only uses energy when needed, fuel economy is also improved.

Refined, Fuel-Efficient Performance:

Barina is powered by a new 1.4 litre, ECOTEC double overhead cam 16 valve engine which provides a more lively, “torquey’ brand of performance. It develops 66 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Its quality of operation is noticeably smoother and more refined, due to the positive benefits of major chassis development and clever engine mount design.

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High-tech “drive-by-wire’ electronic throttle control, a close-coupled catalytic converter and an advanced engine management system combine to increase Barina fuel economy by up to three per cent on the city cycle (manual) and by seven per cent on the highway cycle (automatic) - based on AS2877 tests. This technology also meets the rigorous Euro 4 exhaust emission standards four years ahead of introduction.

More precise shifting and smoother operation are features of the new Barina’s optimised 5-speed manual transmission, which features a maintenance-free, hydraulically operated clutch. The four-speed electronic control automatic transmission has a fuel-saving neutral idle feature which automatically shifts the transmission into neutral when the car is at a standstill with the brake pedal depressed, and then shifts it back into gear when the brake is released.

Componentry designed for low maintenance and a range of totally maintenance-free components also save on operating costs. Air cleaner elements, for instance, have change intervals of 60,000 kms. Barina body panels are fully galvanised for excellent corrosion protection.

Comfort, Convenience and Security:

Barina boasts a wide array of standard features that are purpose-designed to provide a more relaxed and enjoyable driving environment.

As well as speed-sensitive electric power steering, buyers of both models will appreciate such functional extras as air conditioning, remote two-stage central locking, programmable intermittent wiper settings and a tachometer. The high quality Blaupunkt audio system, with illuminated steering wheel-mounted fingertip controls and multi-function display, has a single disc CD player and premium 80-watt six-speaker combination. Further features include a load area cover, manual headlamp level adjustment, “headlamps on’ audible warning, service reminder, tinted windows, body coloured bumpers, side mouldings and driver and passenger vanity mirrors.

In addition, the five-door model offers steering wheel and driver’s seat height adjustment, colour-coded interior trim (not applicable to vehicles painted in Magma Red, Corn Yellow or Aruba Blue), front and rear spot lamps and a driving/sunglasses storage box. Also, included - a drawer beneath the front passenger seat, “child-proof’ rear door locks, rear overhead assist handles plus storage bins in the rear doors.

Theft protection is considerably enhanced. The remote control door locking and engine immobilising device has a rolling security code. Doors can be remotely deadlocked and locks are protected by inside covers. “Freewheeling’ door and steering lock cylinders prevent forcing, radio units are security-coded to render them worthless if stolen. In addition, pressing the remote “unlock’ function automatically activates interior lights.

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Warranty and Customer Care:

Like all Holden passenger cars, sport-utility/recreational four-wheel drivers and light commercial vehicles, the new Barina is covered by a three-year 100,000 kilometres warranty - whichever occurs first. Normal service intervals - following the first inspection at 1500 kms, are at 15,000 kilometres or every 12 months, whichever occurs first.

The Barina also comes with “Holden Advantage,’ a motoring assurance package delivered through the collective resources of Holden Dealers and the New Zealand Automobile Association and which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Benefits, which apply to the vehicle rather than driver and are thus transferred on resale, are a breakdown and recovery service and where applicable, an overnight accommodation and/or alternative transport plan - all in accordance with the formal document that accompanies the vehicle. The service is accessed through the toll free number 0800 HOLDEN.

Available Exterior Paint Colours:

The arrival of the new Barina also heralds the introduction of six new colours in the range - Aruba Blue, Jazz Blue, Breeze Blue, Corn Yellow, Barolo Red and Space Green - joining Star Silver, Diamond Black, Magma Red and Casablanca White.

Basic Dimensions:

A comparison between the previous Barina (called the SB Series) and its all-new XC Series replacement now, follows:

XC Series

3-Door Barina XC Series

5-Door Barina SB Series

3-Door Barina SB Series

5-Door Barina

Front Track 1417 mm 1396 mm

Rear Track 1408 mm 1388 mm

Wheelbase 2491 mm 2443 mm

Length 3816 mm 3816 mm 3741 mm

Width 1642 mm

(1955 over mirrors) 1646 mm

(1955 over mirrors) 1608 mm

(1768 over mirrors)

Height 1443 mm 1439 mm 1420 mm

On Sale Date:

The new XC Series Barina goes on sale from New Zealand Holden showrooms later this month.


Recommended Retail Pricing for models in the Barina range - inclusive of GST but exclusive of on-road costs or the fitment of any possible accessories - follows:

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Model Engine and Transmission R.R.P.

Barina 3-Door 1.4 litre four-cylinder 66 kw 5-speed manual $20,700

1.4 litre four-cylinder 66 kw 4-speed automatic $21,900

Barina 5-Door 1.4 litre four-cylinder 66 kw 5-speed manual $23,200

1.4 litre four-cylinder 66 kw 4-speed automatic $24,400

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Contact: Aalbert van Ham (09) 526 6619 (direct telephone line)


Editors’ footnote:

- Holden Barina XC Series images: 3-door and 5-door exteriors, interiors, engine, transmissions, technical, design drawings and product elements are also available via email and on request.

- ECOTEC stands for Emissions and Consumption Optimisation through Technology.

- The Barina nameplate first came into being in April 1985 when General Motors New Zealand Limited (subsequently, the company became known as Holden New Zealand Limited) began assembly - from CKD packs sourced from Suzuki in Japan - of three and five-door 1.3 litre hatchbacks. Assembly ceased in the late 80s in favour of completely built up vehicles - the last Suzuki sourced model being the Holden Barina MH Series, before a mid 1994 change to the Opel designed and European sourced, Barina (designated the SB Series).

In September 2000, it was announced that General Motors Corporation, USA, would increase its equity ownership in Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

The all-new XC Series Barina’s predecessor was sold in some 80 countries (where it is mostly known as the Corsa - B Series) and has been one of the most successful models in Opel history. Produced in nine body styles at eleven plants on five continents, about six million models have rolled off the production lines.

New XC Series Barinas destined for New Zealand are produced in Zaragoza, Spain - the plant produces 1,950 units a day. The vehicle is also built at Eisenach, Germany and Azambuja in Portugal.

Adam Opel AG is the wholly owned and European “arm’ of General Motors Corporation, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America. The company is the designer of the Holden Barina, Astra and Vectra passenger cars, and the Holden Combo - a purpose-built, half-tonne, “around-town’ light commercial van based on the SB Series Barina.

- Holden New Zealand Limited is also a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Corporation, USA. Established as General Motors New Zealand Limited on January 4, 1926, the company changed its name to Holden New Zealand Limited on July 15, 1994.

Following the sale of its long established Trentham site (in Wellington’s Hutt Valley area) the company relocated to Auckland on July 1, 1999 and is now - essentially, a sales, marketing and distribution organisation.

The company markets the Holden Barina, Astra, Vectra, Commodore, Calais, Statesman and Caprice and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) passenger cars; Holden Ute, Rodeo and Combo light commercial vehicles; Holden Frontera and Holden Monterey sport-utility/recreational four-wheel drive vehicles, and Isuzu light, medium and heavy-duty trucks.

- Website address for Holden New Zealand Limited is: „p


Product Information


While the new styling maintains Barina’s identity and character, its appearance is now more mature and dynamic, energised by flowing lines and new styling cues. Designers have effectively created an interplay between convex, sculpted surfaces and crisp lines that produces lively light effects on the car’s outer skin and adds movement to its form.

The shape of the engine hood adds an athletic touch. Its strongly contoured peripheral zones join with the tops of the fenders to create a tension that leads the eye up to the A-pillars and into the roof arch. A fine centre crease on the hood adds a sporty element. Equally unconventional is the styling element selected for the contours of the slightly flared wheel arches, which do not surround the wheel in the accustomed manner, but run straight into the body’s front and rear sections.

Frontal styling is new, but readily identifiable as a Barina. Between the headlamps, a harmoniously integrated trapezoidal radiator grille hints at its relationship with the larger Astra. A longer body and markedly wider track also make this Barina visually more mature.

The finishing touch is made by the body’s distinctive tail end. Together with the rear window, the segmented lights positioned high up on the C-pillars create a uniform effect that gives the new Barina a harmonious visual character.


Although the new Barina’s frontal area is almost seven per cent larger than its predecessor’s, its total aerodynamic drag is almost six per cent less. A drag coefficient of just 0.32 has been achieved through wind tunnel development and computer simulation.

Airflow optimisations include a spoiler profile at the back of the engine hood that guides airflow over the windshield wipers and a windshield seal with a noise-reducing profile at the A-pillars. Exterior mirror housings have precisely defined separation edges for airflow. Spoiler lips integrated into the illuminated surfaces of Barina’s rear tail lamp assembly markedly assist in reducing turbulence as airflow breaks away at the rear.

Extensive detail work went into achieving the optimum underbody airflow pattern. Measures include the placement of a flexible lip on the bottom edge of the front spoiler, location of a similarly designed underbody spoiler in front of the rear axle and special guiding elements in the rear wheel arch panels.

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Body and Safety:

The structural design of the Barina body has been significantly improved with the aid of advanced computer simulations and torsional rigidity has been increased by 33 per cent. High and extra-high strength steels now account for over 40 per cent of the structure, compared with two percent previously. Panels and steel members that harden to high strength level when heat-treated during the production process are a special structural feature.

The body structure offers a high degree of passive safety and is designed for controlled crush, with distinct load paths that absorb and distribute kinetic energy.

In a frontal accident, crash energy forces are distributed along three load paths - upper, central (main) and lower - in the strongly built front end. Barina’s optimised deformation zone is backed up by a rigid and robust passenger safety cell.

The upper load path is made up of the wheel assembly strut, which is connected to the passenger cell at belt height. It bears against the A-pillar connection and guides impact energy into the B-pillars or the rear section of the vehicle body by way of door-aperture reinforcement.

The front frame and sills serve as the main load paths. The front frame is connected to a sturdy aluminium bumper cross-member, which braces itself against the frame ends via two high-strength steel crash boxes, which are designed to absorb minor impacts without damage to the car’s main structure.

In severe frontal collisions, the reinforced frame side rail, constructed of high-strength steel and located behind the crash boxes, also deforms and absorbs kinetic energy.

A lower load path is provided by Barina’s closed, hydroformed chassis sub-frame and the reinforced tunnel, which is braced against the cross-rail under the seats.

Forces in an offset frontal collision are re-distributed widely over the entire front-end structure by the three vertically arranged load paths and their cross-connections, so that the side of the car that is further away from the impact also helps to absorb energy. Kinetic energy is absorbed mainly by the deformation of the front frame, wheel arches and chassis sub-frame. To minimise penetration of the steering system into the occupant zone, the telescoping steering column is de-coupled from the front wall and connected to the hydroformed steering cross-member.

The rear structure has an aluminium bumper beam, bolted to high-strength steel side rails to direct and absorb impact forces.

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Tailor welded blanks, used in critical body structures such as the B-pillar, rear seat area and wheel arches, are specially fabricated and constructed to give optimum stress distribution and load sharing.

The side impact protection system has been developed and tested to redirect impact forces and allows for greater intrusion control. Features include the “tailored blank’ B-pillar reinforcement, a reinforced seat cross member and stable front seat structure, side impact door beams and energy absorbing foam elements located between the inner door panel and door padding.

Unusually for a car in this class Barina features front seat active head restraints, which are effective in reducing the risk of whiplash injuries that can result from front and rear-end impacts.

The system operates mechanically and is activated by a lever when the weight of the occupant’s body is forced against a pressure pad in the seat back in the event of a collision. This causes the lever to move the head restraint upwards and forwards, meeting the occupant’s head as it moves back and significantly reducing the strain placed on cervical vertebrae. In the event of multiple collision impacts, this mechanical action will be repeated.

Protection is supplemented by a head restraint lock, which prevents the cushion from sliding down from its selected position.

New to Barina are the lightweight, disengaging clutch and brake pedals incorporated in its pedal release system. In a severe frontal impact, both will disengage from their anchorages, improving protection for the driver’s feet and lower legs.

Front seat belt systems are equipped with belt-force limiters, in addition to pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and belt-height adjustment. While the pre-tensioners eliminate belt slack in milliseconds after a certain threshold has been reached, belt force limiters are designed to reduce the force applied by the seat belt to the upper body.

Additional safety systems include anti-submarining ramps in all seats, front seat belt height adjustment, a reinforced rear seat back and active hinge locking system to protect against a shifting load and child restraint anchorages located behind the rear seats. Driver and front passenger airbags have a new radial fold pattern which spreads more uniformly when inflating for even more effective protection. The composite fuel tank is located in front of the rear axle, beneath the floor in the rear seat area.

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NEW XC Series

3-Door Barina NEW XC Series

5-Door Barina SB Series

3-Door Barina SB Series

5-Door Barina

Front Track 1417 mm 1396 mm

Rear Track 1408 mm 1388 mm

Wheelbase 2491 mm 2443 mm

Length 3816 mm 3816 mm 3741 mm

Width 1642 mm

(1955 over mirrors) 1646 mm

(1955 over mirrors) 1608 mm

(1768 over mirrors)

Height 1443 mm 1439 mm 1420 mm


Astra was the role model for Barina’s new hydroformed chassis sub-frame. The sub-frame is attached to the body at four points and carries suspension pivots for the front wheels, the steering and engine cooling modules and the engine torque reaction struts. It also serves as a load path in the event of a head-on collision.

The elasto-kinematics of the DSA (Dynamic Safety) chassis improve driver control. When braking on surfaces with differing friction factors, the toe angle at the wheel with more grip automatically increases to counteract any tendency for the car to break away or skid sideways.

Front suspension is proven MacPherson strut, with triangulated wishbones and gas-filled shock absorbers. A new feature is offset-axis coil springs, which are bent into a banana-like shape. More compact and lighter than conventional coil springs, these side load springs compensate for lateral forces on the shock absorber piston rod.

Considerable developmental work went into optimising the tuning of damping bushes at the points where the body and sub-frame meet the chassis. These bushings are configured for high stiffness in the transverse direction, which results in more precise wheel control.

A complex hydro-mount is attached to the front wishbone suspension and supported by the sub-frame. It effectively dampens the kind of disturbance caused by an imbalanced wheel and prevents it from translating into steering vibration.

The hydro-formed torsion beam rear suspension with trailing arms and coil springs is also modeled on that of the Holden Astra.

Spring rates and stabilisers have been tuned to deliver a balanced compromise between comfort and safe handling. Barina uses a 22 Newton’s per millimetre spring rate at the front axle and has 17 mm diameter stabiliser bars front and rear.

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Electric Power Steering:

Since Barina’s speed-dependent electric power steering uses energy only when it is needed, it consumes between two and five per cent less fuel than a hydraulic system. Power assistance is provided by an electric motor attached to the steering column, and a computer continuously evaluates information on driver-applied steering input, current road speed and engine speed to calculate the level of assistance required.

Engines and Transmissions:

Barina is powered by a 1.4 litre ECOTEC DOHC 16V engine, using 91-octane fuel and developing 66 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. A cylinder-selective knock control feature allows full advantage to be taken of 95- octane premium fuel and permits a compression ratio of 10.5.

Progressive engine management controls injection, ignition and other functions. Features include sequential fuel injection and electronic throttle control, which is operated via an electrical signal which is transferred from the accelerator, via the engine's electronic control unit, to the air inlet throttle mechanism. The system enhances driveability by allowing more precise control of throttle movements, lowering exhaust emissions and giving reliability gains through the minimisation of mechanical wear.

Multi-hole injector nozzles permit particularly precise fuel distribution. The static voltage high distribution ignition system combines individual ignition coils in a compact module and needs no servicing. Maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters, a thin metal cylinder head gasket, fuel supply system with no return flow and an oil filter module designed for easy service access are other notable features.

Barina shares Astra’s intelligent four-point engine mounting system. With this suspension, the weight of the powertrain is borne by mounts at the right and left of the transversely mounted engine’s dynamic axis of rotation. Tilting movements that occur during driving are absorbed by two additional torque supports. This pivot mounting on the neutral axis - also referred to as neutral torque axis mounting, has the effect of neutralising vibrations allowing idling speeds to be lowered for improved fuel economy.

Based on Australian Standard test AS2877, fuel consumption is improved by up to three per cent on the city cycle for the manual and by seven per cent on the highway cycle for the auto.

Barina Manual Barina Automatic

City cycle: 7.6 litres per 100 kms City cycle: 7.8 litres per 100 kms

Highway cycle: 5.4 litres per 100 kms Highway cycle: 5.2 litres per 100 kms

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Emission reductions achieved through Barina’s advanced engine management system and electronic throttle are supplemented by a catalytic converter which is located very close to the engine to minimise emissions in the warm-up phase. Probes either side of the close-coupled converter monitor exhaust gas oxygen content, and oxides of nitrogen are further reduced by electronically controlled linear exhaust gas recirculation. An on-board diagnosis system also monitors the electronics for emission-related components.

Barina’s optimised 5-speed manual gearbox has a maintenance-free hydraulically operated clutch which suppresses noise and vibration and requires less operating effort. Additional refinement is provided by an external shift gate, which de-couples the gearshift linkage from the driveline, improves transmission noise and makes for more precise gear selection.

Optionally available is a 4-speed automatic transmission with lock-up converter and a fuel-saving neutral idle feature which automatically shifts the transmission into neutral when the car is at a standstill with the brake pedal depressed, and then shifts it back into gear when the brake is released.

Electrical System:

Barina’s electrical and electronic systems are characterised by fast data flow, intelligent control methods and weight-saving design. They are controlled by two Controller Area Network (CAN) data buses, which facilitate simpler, more efficient communication between vehicle systems. A high-speed (500 kilobits per second) “bus’ serves systems that require minimal reaction and implementation times - safety controls and engine functions, for example - and the lower-speed (47.5 kilobits per second) unit handles items such as lighting, wipers and locks.

Air Conditioning:

Once again, the reference point for developing Barina’s air conditioning system was the Holden Astra. The entire heating and ventilation block is efficiently pre-assembled and tested as a module for subsequent installation. Computer-optimised air vents make it possible to distribute the air in different ways, and positioning of the air outlet in a low-pressure area of the vehicle floor ensures an accelerated airflow rate through the car.

For maximum cooling, the system has a recirculated air function, but it is automatically bypassed in the “defrost’ setting to clear windows as quickly as possible. A variable displacement air conditioning compressor adapts output to actual cooling requirements.

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