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by Tim Beissmann

The 2016 Chevrolet Spark has been unveiled simultaneously at the New York and Seoul motor shows, previewing the design of the new-generation Holden Barina Spark that will launch in Australia early next year.

General Motors’ completely redesigned micro hatch claims to take big steps forward in performance, efficiency and refinement, while gaining a host of new connectivity and safety features.

With a slightly longer wheelbase and a lower roofline than the current Barina Spark, the all-new model promises better aerodynamic performance without compromising headroom in either seating row.

Its new, more robust architecture also boasts a stronger body structure, which the car maker says enabled its engineers to tune its ride and handling more precisely for a greater feeling of control and refinement and a quieter ride.

Holden’s own engineering team was heavily involved in the development of the new Spark, with the company’s director of vehicle performance, Ian Butler, revealing the team has been working hard to “tailor the vehicle to ensure it resonates with our customers in Australia”.

“The car will feature unique suspension and steering tunes following thousands of kilometres and months of extensive work at our Lang Lang proving ground and on public roads,” Butler said.

“We made sure the car remains fun and agile but will now deliver even more sophistication.”

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Under the bonnet is an all-new 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from GM’s new Ecotec family that produces 73kW of power – up 14kW from the current Barina Spark’s 1.2-litre engine.

It will be available with either five-speed manual or automatic continuously variable transmissions – the latter replacing the ancient four-speed auto of the current car.

The car maker claims Spark drivers will appreciate the new model’s “more engaging driving position”, along with its upgraded cabin materials, higher quality fabrics, higher density seat foam, and greater attention to detail in general.

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New advanced safety features include forward collision alert, lane departure warning and blind-spot assist, while a reverse-view camera, rear parking sensors and 10 airbags will also be available, depending on the market.

Holden will announce the specifications of its new Barina Spark closer to its local launch in the first quarter of 2016, though Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley is confident it will “set a new benchmark in this highly competitive segment”.

The new Barina Spark will compete with the likes of the Fiat 500, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra and Suzuki Celerio in Australia’s sub-$15,000 micro segment.

Click on the photos tab to see a gallery of images of the new Chevrolet Spark at the Seoul motor show.




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