Said to bring a new sense of maturity, panache and technology to this uber price-sensitive segment, the Spark is also Holden’s first properly new car to launch in some time. It is, the brand claims, "a new benchmark".
The new Holden Spark replaces the mediocre Holden Barina Spark, and while it’s between $500 and $2000 pricier at base level ($13,990 plus on-road costs) than the Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra and Suzuki Celerio, it offers class-leading tech such as standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
It also gets a comprehensive Australian-developed suspension and steering system and a 73kW/128Nm 1.4 engine with at least 30 per cent more power/torque than key rivals, making it a significantly more rounded driving experience than many other cheaper-and-less-cheerful offerings.
Speaking at the Australian launch last night, GM International vice-president of design Mike Simcoe (himself an Australian) said the Spark had gone straight to the top of the charts in Korea — where it’s made and was designed by the guy who did the previous Camaro — and that it could do the same in Australia.
“I can’t see why not,” he said when we asked him.
The micro car leader in 2015 was the cut-price Mirage, which managed 3882 sales, ahead of the Fiat 500, Barina Spark, Celerio and Micra. But the segment as a whole declined a substantial 32.3 per cent.
This is over a similar decline in 2014, and so far in 2016 the trend continues unabated. People just aren’t buying the market’s cheapest cars, instead choosing discounted larger models such as the Kia Rio, or late-model used cars — few of which offer the Spark’s high-tech infotainment.
Speaking with CarAdvice this week, a GM Holden representative said the Spark was the ideal car to give the ailing micro segment a kick along, perhaps alongside the imminent Kia Picanto.
5-speed manual transmission
CVT transmission (optional)
Electronic Stability Control
ABS & Traction Control System
Remote Central Locking
14-inch steel wheels (four) with covers
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Hill Start Assist
60/40 rear folding seats
Driver information cluster
Steering wheel audio controls
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 7-inch colour touch screen
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile phone projection
Siri Eyes Free and Smartphone Voice Recognition Pass-Through
Spark LT adds:
15-inch alloy wheels (four)
Push button start
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Jet Black Sportec seat trim
Interior trim – Mirotic White highlights
Rear Park Assist
Rear view camera
2016 Holden Spark pricing (plus on-road costs):
Spark LS – five-speed manual – $13,990
Spark LS – CVT automatic – $15,690
Spark LT – CVT automatic – $18,990