Chevrolet has released more details about the Spark, its funky new baby car which is set to start a styling revolution at the traditional American manufacturer.
And before you ask: No, it can’t transform like the Autobot Skids in Revenge of the Fallen.
But the styling is almost unchanged from the Beat concept that inspired the character and debuted at the 2007 New York Auto Show alongside the Trax and Groove designs.
After positive feedback, an online poll between the trio and 1.9 million votes, the Beat was the clear winner, sparking the development of the car that will go on sale in Europe from February 2010.
Chevrolet targeted Europe as a crucial market for the Spark, with A-segment vehicles accounting for almost 10 per cent of the passenger car market, up from 6.5 per cent in 2008 and less than 5 per cent in 2005.
However Chevrolet insists the car has been designed for the world and will be sold throughout America, Asia and Australia, taking advantage of what is globally the fastest growing new car segment.
“We developed the Spark with the aim of giving buyers more mini for their money,” chief engineer, Jack Keaton said.
“We are proud of the high standards of fit and finish we have achieved. Spark is well-equipped with safety technology and, most importantly, it is highly maneuverable and a lot of fun to drive.”
That “fun” supposedly comes from two different multi-port fuel injection engines teamed with a five-speed manual transmission.
The first is a 50kW 1.0-litre four-cylinder unit producing 93Nm and which sneaks up on 100km/h in 15.5 seconds.
The larger 1.2-litre scores 10 extra kilowatts and 18 more Newton-metres, taking it from 0-100km/h in 12.1 seconds.
But that’s largely irrelevant.
What matters is efficiency and emissions, and with both engines consuming 5.1 litres/100km and emitting 119g/km CO2, the Spark will be clean enough, though already behind the benchmarks.
LPG variants of both engines will be rolled out in select markets starting with Italy in February, followed by France, Germany, Belgium and others, ensuring better fuel costs and emissions figures.
Making the Spark stand out without saying ‘look at me’ was the ambition of GM DAT vice president of design, Taewan Kim, who is responsible for the Spark’s ‘wheels-out, body-in’ stance.
“From the beginning, we wanted to have a revolution in size and design.
“Instead of the relatively common ‘cute and cuddly’ approach, we wanted Spark to be a little more aggressive, edgy, ready to pounce.
“It needed to look great from 360 degrees and it needed to generate excitement,” he said.
Kim said those cues flowed through to the interior which was developed simultaneously with the exterior to “create a singular, harmonious feeling”.
“The Spark’s interior repeats the body color in the instrument panel and the door trim, creating a fully integrated feeling of roominess.
“The motorcycle-style instrument pod mounted on the steering column makes for a sporty, high-tech look, which together with the unique ice-blue illumination and crystal jewelry effects on the control knobs, creates a very modern atmosphere.”
Standard tech inside includes a CD/MP3 player with AUX/USB ports and a built-in 4GB memory, while a 4.3-inch touch screen with satellite navigation is optional.
by Tim Beissmann