Chevrolet adds Spark to city-car segment
"The Chevrolet Spark is the third generation of the Daewoo Matiz, though it is the first to be marketed as a Chevrolet in various markets around the globe (including North America early in 2012)."
A Spark pre-production model debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the production model introduced later that year at the Geneva Motor Show. It sits a rung lower on the sub-compact scale, slotting in below the upcoming Sonic (replacing Aveo) and taking on the likes of the Fiat 500 (which it outdoes in areas of interior room, seating and accessibility).
Four full doors open up on 1960 mm of overall legroom (1067/893 front/rear), while shoulder space of 1295mm front and 1255 rear should be plenty for four occupants (though the car has belts for five). Luggage space of 170 litres expands to 568 when the rear seatback is down.
Outside, the Spark package is just 3640 long by 1597 wide (just slightly longer and narrower than the Fiat), meaning it should easily navigate city streets and find temporary stays in even the narrowest of grocery story parking lots. The expansive window space and high seating arrangement means good visibility out.
Spark is very much about styling and the exterior edgy cues are supported inside by a dash display that looks like a modern in-home sound system, with controls backlit in ice blue light. The sound system plays CDs and MP3s, and hooks up to portable media via USB or AUX jacks.
Power on the European Spark is provided by either a 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre dual overhead cam, 16-valve four-cylinder engine with multi-port fuel injection. The likely engine in the North American version will be the 1.2, though its 80 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque may be deemed too low for North American tastes. Both engines are mated to a standard five-speed manual, though an automatic will likely be offered optionally in North America.
Acceleration is leisurely, with Spark making the run to 100 km/h in a reported 12.7 seconds, passing from 80 to 120 km/h in 26.6 seconds, and a top speed of 164 km/h. But as you’d expect, the Spark onus is on fuel economy, with ratings on the Euro cycles of 6.6 litres per 100 km in the city and 4.1 on the highway and CO2 emissions of just 118 grams per km.
Spark rides on MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear, with braking handled by ventilated discs up front and drums in the rear (and aided by an antilock braking system).
It will, of course, come with a full complement of airbags and other occupant protection systems, as well as GM’s famous OnStar system (which now also adds Bluetooth capability to hook up a personal phone).
“We developed Spark with the aim of giving buyers more mini for their money,” said chief engineer Jack Keaton.
North American Sparks are built in South Korea.
- Trim level: Exp. LS, LT
- Price range: Not yet set
- Year/Make/Model: 2012 Chevrolet Spark
- Options: alloy wheels; electronic stability control; auto transmission.
- EnerGuide fuel economy ratings: Euro – 6.6 city; 4.1 hwy.
- Competitors: Fiat 500; Scion iQ.