From its stand at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors revealed new details about the 2013 Chevrolet Spark, the brand's upcoming minicar that will slot below the new Sonic in both size and price.
With this first appearance of the U.S.-spec Spark (a somewhat different version is already sold in other markets), GM confirmed powertrain specs for the first time; the 2013 Chevrolet Spark will be powered by a 85-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine and either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic. And, keep in mind, there's an electric version of the Spark on the way.
Otherwise the Spark's underpinnings are familiar for a newer on-a-budget small car. There's electric power steering and a strut-front, torsion-beam-rear suspension, and the brakes are discs in front, drums in back. It runs on low-rolling-resistance tires. Curb weight is about 2,300 pounds for the Spark, which is just 144 inches long—about the same as the U.S. Mitsubishi i (MiEV) or base two-door Mini Cooper, or a foot shorter than the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic hatchback (two feet shorter than the sedan).
Like the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic hatchback, the Spark hatchback has somewhat hidden rear doors, with the handles integrated into the C-pillar; overall, we see the huge, bug-eyed headlights as one of the key design features as well. The Spark's gauge cluster is “motorcycle inspired,” with some of the same influences as the Sonic apparent here, and the look of the dash and doors is a little more flamboyant than that of larger Chevrolet models like the Cruze. Ice blue ambient light bathes the interior.
Chevy says that the Spark's seven-inch color touch screen sound system can display smartphone-based navigation, media, and contacts, and is a class-exclusive. Also offered will be MyLink, offering (as in Chevy's other so-equipped vehicles) Pandora and Stitcher streaming programming ability through a smartphone data connection.
GM also confirms that SiriusXM satellite radio will be offered on the Spark. Air conditioning and power windows are among the standard features, while the 2LT comes with heated seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
With such a small car, safety is of course a concern, so Chevrolet is including ten standard airbags, including front seat-mounted side airbags, side-curtain bags, and front knee bags. Electronic stability control is included, and OnStar is wrapped in.
Colors offered in the U.S.-spec Spark will include bright hues such as Denim, Lemonade, Jalapeno, Salsa, and Techno Pink.
The Spark will be the smallest car ever sold by Chevrolet in the U.S.; and with the exception of the little three-cylinder engine in the Chevrolet Sprint (Geo Metro), it will have the smallest engine of any modern Chevy. Chevrolet hasn't released pricing yet, but it plans to sell the Spark at a price substantially below the Sonic's $14,495 price.
Is the Spark too small for Americans, or is it a matter of pricing? Would you rather have the Spark, or one of the other cheapest vehicles on the market like a (larger) Nissan Versa? Let us know what you think, and browse these galleries fresh from the show floor.