The Autoblog/AutoblogGreen team is just rolling into Geneva this morning for one of the biggest auto shows of the year, and look what we found before we even got out of the airport: Sitting in the Chevrolet media lounge right by the train station is the brand-new Chevrolet Spark. Essentially a four door version of the Beat concept we saw two years ago in New York, the Spark will be launching in other parts of the world in early 2010 and in the U.S. a year later. Both the 1.0-liter and 1.2-liter engines are expected to top 47 miles-per-gallon (U.S.) combined and emit less than 120 g/km of CO2. They wouldn't let us sit in the car yet but it looks surprisingly roomy at this first look. Hopefully, General Motors will be around long enough that we'll get to drive it.
[Source: General Motors]
All-New Chevrolet Spark: A Mini-Car with Attitude
- Edgy styling adds brio to mini-car segment
- Youthful interior look with unique motorcycle-inspired instrument pod
- Class-leading front and rear passenger room
- Frugal 1.0/1.2-liter engines deliver sub-120 g CO2 emissions
The all-new Chevrolet Spark, making its world premiere at Geneva, is a small car designed to make a big statement. It's big on style, big on fuel economy and, like all products carrying the gold bowtie, big on value.
Distinctive, edgy styling conveys energy and spirit because this is a mini-car that's as fun to drive as it is economical to own.
With punchy 1.0 and 1.2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines and a five-door hatchback body format offering surprising versatility, the Chevy Spark is set to light up Europe's mini-car segment.
Due on sale early next year, it is a production-ready version of the Beat concept car, the most popular of a trio of Chevy mini concepts that toured international motor shows in 2007. A clear majority among 1.9 million internet voters said it was the car they preferred.
"Spark will bring a fresh dimension to Europe's growing mini-car segment," says Wayne Brannon, GM Europe Vice President, Chevrolet. "It offers fuel efficiency, functionality and eye-catching design combined with excellent value."
For 'cute and cuddly', read 'strong and sharp' – that's the message behind Spark's head-turning looks. Its edgy styling breaks the usual mold for city car design by making no soft, visual concessions about lack of size. Spark continues Chevrolet's design revolution by bringing exciting looks to products in the value segment.
The crisp lines of the mono-cab body express a wedge-like profile, with the deep glasshouse balanced by prominent side body scallops, sculptured fenders and slim, teardrop headlamp units. The 'active' contours of the bodywork are free from rubbing strips or exterior trim.
At the front, the bold twin-port grille leads up to a hood that's heavily sculpted above the headlamps. Below the grille, the lines of the fog lamp housings and the 'floating' lower air intake extend the sense of forward movement. Muscular rear wheel-arches, well filled with a choice of 13, 14 or 15-inch wheels, give the car a crouched, ready-to-go stance.
Rear door handles, disguised to preserve the clean look of those wheel-aches, an integrated rear tailgate spoiler and signature Chevy tail lights with round elements are other design details that add to Spark's 'must-have' appeal.
Purposeful and poised, the Chevy Spark is a city car with 'attitude', small yet proud of its size.
The progressive design of Spark's surprisingly spacious cabin has the flair to match its exterior looks. The use of quality materials and an uplevel execution were key interior design requirements, demonstrating that small cars offering big value need not look utilitarian or spartan inside.
Bright and engaging, the interior features an evolution of Chevrolet's signature 'dual cockpit' design. The textured front fascia moldings flow each side of the cabin into the doors, creating a feeling of space that belies Spark's diminutive size.
Exterior bodywork colors are carried through into the lower fascia and door panels. And the main controls are all highlighted in signature Chevy ice-blue, adding to the cabin's youthful looks.
A unique, motorcycle-inspired main instrument pod, incorporating a large speedometer and digital tachometer display, is another striking design feature.
The audio, heating, ventilation and navigation displays are all neatly presented in an integrated center stack. A small floor console includes twin cup-holders, ample storage cubbyholes and a gearshift molding finished in aluminum to match the spokes of the steering wheel.
Spark packs a generous 2,375 mm wheelbase into its 3,640 mm long body, which helps to deliver a cabin with class-leading passenger leg and hip room, front and rear. The seats are upholstered in a range of bright, contrasting fabrics, with top-of-line variants even including uplevel French seam stitching.
Despite its minimal rear overhang for ease of parking, Spark offers an above average 170-liter trunk volume, easily increased to 994 liters by lowering the 60/40 split-fold rear seat-back. All four door pockets are large enough to provide useful onboard storage for oddments. Spark's versatility can be taken a step further by specifying roof rails, a rare option in the segment.
The extensive equipment roster includes: a height-adjustable driver's seat, tilting steering wheel, electrically-powered front windows, heated front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, electrically-powered and heated door mirrors, a trip computer and 'anti-freeze' windshield wipers.
On the move
Newly-developed, all-aluminum 1.0 and 1.2-liter gasoline engines, generating 66 hp/49 kW and 78 hp/58 kW respectively, are expected to offer combined cycle fuel economy of below 5.0L/100 km, together with CO2 emissions of less than 120 g.
These efficient, Euro 5 compliant, 16-valve motors are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The 1.2-liter engine is expected to deliver zero to 100 km/h acceleration in a brisk 12.4 seconds.
Apart from fewer visits to the filling station, Spark also delivers a level of running refinement and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) typical of a larger car. A three-level noise suppression program focused on effective insulation in the floor, the front bulkhead and inner body panels. The chassis is based on McPherson strut front suspension, with a space-saving torsion beam set-up at the rear. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will be offered as an option.
Standard safety equipment includes driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags. The front seatbelts are equipped with pre-tensioners and there are three, three-point belts for rear passengers. Spark is expected to achieve a high EuroNCAP crash test rating.
In the last three years, annual mini-car sales in Europe have grown from under one million to almost 1.4 million units and Spark, backed by the high value promise of the gold bowtie, is expected to substantially increase Chevrolet's penetration of the segment, particularly in western European markets.
While re-energizing Chevrolet's mini-car offer, Spark is the next step in a new product development program led by the Cruze compact sedan, being launched this spring. Both cars feature a new, more expressive design language for the brand. They will also be joined next year by an all-new compact MPV, based on the Orlando concept car first shown last year.
Chevrolet continues to be Europe's fastest-growing mainstream automotive brand. Despite challenging market conditions in the second half of 2008, Chevrolet increased its annual sales volume by almost 11 percent, selling more than 500,000 cars in Europe for the first time. The launches of Spark, Cruze and Orlando will add momentum to this unfolding success story.