Extensive Details Announced for 2013 Chevrolet Spark ahead of LA Auto Show
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a five-door hatch that populates the A-segment, the smallest class of passenger cars, yet it offers more passenger and cargo room than other mini cars such as the Fiat 500, Smartfortwo and the Scion iQ.
It's going to be equipped with a 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine when its goes on sale in mid-2012. The Chevrolet Spark isn't being sold for its power because it doesn't have any at an estimated 85 horsepower and 81 lb. of torque. Unlike its main competition, the Spark runs on regular fuel. No fuel economy numbers have been released yet for the Spark, which weighs just over one ton at 2269 lbs. and rides on 15-inch alloy wheels.
It is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission will also be available. The inclusion of a four-speed automatic in a modern car is never a good sign. However, the Spark is already on sale in Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico and South America. Most likely the transmission being offered in the U.S. and Canada is just a carryover from those markets.
It's neither transmissions nor powertrains that are going to sell this car to first-time buyers. Simply put it's going to be technology. The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, included on 1LT and 2LT Spark models, provides a seven-inch color touch screen. With MyLink, Spark buyers can bring their customized music libraries into the vehicle and use their smart phones and Bluetooth connectivity to access both Pandora and Stitcher internet radio and navigation. When the vehicle is stopped, owners can project video and even personal photo albums onto the screen.
That's a huge screen for a small car. The Hyundai Veloster is equipped with a seven-inch screen and it just pops the graphics from the center stack. Once you use a seven-inch screen you dread going back to something smaller. It's a smart move on Chevrolet's part to address the growing focus on technology by giving consumers a huge screen.
Speaking of the Veloster, Chevrolet uses a similar design cue for the Spark. Designers disguised the rear doors by integrating the handles into the C-pillar area. Does it fool you? At first glance but there is still a discernible line for the door. Designers can't design that away.
What's most incredible about the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is the amount of safety features that are packed inside. It doesn't seem possible in such a small space (the wheelbase is only 93.5 inches) but the Spark has 10 standard air bags, including both driver and passenger front knee air bags to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries in frontal crashes. Dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags that extend over the front and rear seating rows are also standard. It also has stability control and ABS.
Other safety technologies include rollover sensing system; three-point safety belts in all four seating positions; seat belt pretensioners in the front driver and passenger seats; the LATCH child seat attachment system; releasable pedals; adjustable head restraints; and a collapsible steering column. Spark also is equipped with the OnStar safety and security system, which uses GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of crash.
An all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark is also coming (one can just imagine the marketing evolving around that name). It's not expected to be on sale until 2013 as a 2014 model year vehicle.
Air conditioning and power windows are two standard details across the 2013 Chevrolet Spark lineup. Color-coordinated interiors feature a lower instrument panel – with a motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster – and lower center console for maximum visibility and storage. Heated leatherette seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel are included on Spark 2LT. (Is leatherette another word for pleather? Were any cows used in the production of leatherette?)