Im from rural Australia, where I come from the standard prequisites for a first car buyer are large, diesel (if you arent going for a sedan) and displacement (the more the better) so when I brought my barina RS home for the first time I was met buy a generalised 'why?'.
To put things in perspective I come from a family of Pajero's, Triton's, Navara's and recently a Holden Colorado.. Also every man in my family (bar my little brother) have truck licences. But being the first of my family to move more permenantly to the city I decided to take a stab with a cheap, fun, 4cyl turbo.
We'll start with the good stuff, I am a fan of the exterior, it is a nice looking little car, the engine performes well with plenty of mid-range torque and although its by no means a 'fast car' it has a pleasant fizz that makes everyday driving more of a fun activity. The steering is nicely weighted and sharp, and the stiffer suspension, although a little busy at times, gives you confidence in the curvy bits. I selected the manual for mine and if you dont mind shifting in stop start traffic I'd highly reccomend it as it is miles ahead of the frustrating auto, and you get to decide how you use the cars power.
The engine is solid and reliable and servicing costs a wonderfully low, (capped price servicing gets me a normal service for just $185. Beauty). Fuel economy is also quite strong, I get a consistent 6.2l per 100km with a 70/30 split between highway and city driving, the highest number ive seen is 6.5l which is what is advertised. Finally, my two favourite things about the interior are the steering wheel, which always pleases me being the first thing i see, its nice and chunky and the flat bottom is a nice touch.
Secondly, the MyLink system is excellent, way above what you'd expect from the price. Its easy to use, nice to look at and comes with all the handsfree and music connections you need.
Now for the not so good stuff, my main issue with the RS is the overuse of hard plastics inside. Its just begging for some soft touch plastic or even cloth trim on the door panels, especially on the arm rest because quite frankly its hard to properly relax on a longer trip when you are resting your arm on more plastic.
Another issue that although I happily live with now, took some getting used to is the close range gearing, particulary 1st and 2nd. 1st gear essentially just gets the wheels rolling then in order to keep things smooth you need to jump straight to 2nd before calling on majority of that mid range torque in 3rd. As I said this is a very livable issue as the gearing makes for a responsive drive, but if you arent patient enough with it im almost certain fuel economy will suffer.
All things considered its a great choice for a first time buyer such as myself who enjoys being very much a part of the driving experience but is not neccesarily made out of money.