By on November 17, 2011

Way cuter than the Chevy Cruze, the new (for America) Spark might just prove that Chevy can do more than muscle cars and trucks. As confusing as the name seems to be for many, the Spark has nothing to do with the Volt, and at the moment it is not an electric car (there is however an all-electric Spark planned for 2013). The rest of the buyers will get the new 1.2L, 85HP, four cylinder engine. With a curb weight under 2300 lbs, the light weight Spark should get MPGs in the 30s in the city and in the 40s on the open road. Nobody would talk pricing with us, but we were told it should be under $15K to start which will include the 7-inch color LCD screen for the infotainment system. While it may sound like GM has found their small car mojo at long last, fear not the Spark is still cogs shy of the competition, with a 4-speed slush box or a 5 speed manual being the transmissions of choice in America. What kind of mileage would a 6 speed Spark yield? The world may never know.

The Camaro? Yeah, would have been much more exciting if there wasn’t a new 650HP Mustang.

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64 Comments on “Chevy: Sparks Fly In Los Angeles...”


  • avatar
    johnhowington

    i just threw up a little after seeing the interior dashboard shot.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Is it an optical illusion, or is there a miniscule, finger trapping gap between the volume buttons and the steering wheel rim?

      I like it that GM is claiming Daewoo got there curb weight down to Mazda 2 levels, but that does make me wonder just how small this car is. The Mazda 2 sized Sonic weighs more than a Civic EX sedan.

  • avatar
    John R

    Whoa. Those are big headlamps.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      er perhaps and optical illusion. The car is sooooooo tiny :)

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        He’s right, the head lamps are big.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        MusicMachine is right, too. This car really is rollerskate-tiny. They’re fairly popular here in metro Melbourne (though none too acclaimed critically), and they look dinky next to a Yaris or Fit. Think Smart Car scale, just a bit longer.

        The Spark is also one of those rare cars that looks better in pictures than in person. On the road, they look awkwardly narrow, over-’faced’ and under-tired.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I guess we are seeing the effects of an upcoming CAFE mandate. For me the Cruze was small enough. Now we get the Sonic and the Spark to average into the corporate fleet’s fuel mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      Could they have just eliminated the Avalanche or Traverse or Tahoe or Suburban?

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      It’s tempting to see this car as a reaction to CAFE restrictions, but it’s more a case of GM consolidating its global portfolio. This car wasn’t designed for the US. It’s the replacement for the Daewoo Matiz, a car sold in overseas markets since 1998. The current model is already on sale in India, Korea, Australia, and several European countries, and will hit North and South America at about the same time.

  • avatar
    mjz

    That better start a LOT less than $15,000. Is that really pink metallic? Instant Mary-Kay mobile.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    What does Obama have in store for our economy that would make such a car salable? This makes the new Versa look like an Audi, and Versas need to be really cheap to sell as things are now. Can GM sell the Spark for four figures, or do they need to make more reasonable economy cars prohibitively expensive to buy and operate so people of moderate means have no choice but to buy cars refused by India? This isn’t a car from a bright future, and the point couldn’t be better made than by having a ’65 Impala at the show.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Ooooohhh… the bogeyman Obama is at it again, is he?

      Wake up… the median wage has been falling for years. All through the Bush Administration. That’s what makes this car saleable.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This isn’t a car from a bright future, and the point couldn’t be better made than by having a ’65 Impala at the show

      I’m all for rolling back the tax rates to those of 1965. You know, when men were real men, women were real women (and stayed home!), and executives didn’t make more two orders of magnitude more money than the average worker and still paid more taxes than they do today.

      Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s what you mean…

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Ah yes, back in the old days when taxes were so high that you would be better off reinvesting money in your company instead of pulling it out into your own personal bank account. Hey wait a minute, weren’t the old days back when GM built the best cars in the world.

        Probably just a strange coincidence.

      • 0 avatar

        And defense spending in the US was about twice what it is today in terms of % of GDP.

        Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s what you mean.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Taxes don’t kill jobs. The EPA kills jobs. Do you think it is a coincidence that the EPA was formed in 1970 and wages peaked in 1971? Get rid of government regulations and we can have prosperity again. Obama, Obama, Obama(Cass Sunstein).

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        And defense spending in the US was about twice what it is today in terms of % of GDP.

        Tell you what: you can have your playtoys, I can have my institutionalized charity, we both agree to actually pay for it, mmmkay?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Wow, I am stunned, CJ going against Republican orthodoxy – “taxes don`t kill jobs”. That’s not what the GOP leadership is saying now, demanding ever lower taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        In the bad old days, those awful rich people paid a smaller percentage of federal income taxes than they do today. That’s because the dirty little secret of those rates set at 90+ (in the 1950s) and 70+ percent (after the tax cuts pushed through by that well-known Republican, John F. Kennedy, Sr., in 1962) was that they came with lots of loopholes. Very few people actually PAID those taxes.

        I’ll take lower rates and fewer loopholes, thank you very much.

        And GM building the best cars in the world in the 1950s had more to do with its major competitors, located largely in western Europe at that time, still recovering from the devastation of World War II. It had nothing to do with higher federal income taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      What’s wrong with offering the customers the choice of a small car? GM sells S (Sonic), M (Cruze), L (Malibu), XL (Impala), XXL (Tahoe) and XXXL (Suburban). Why not give people the XS option as well, not everyone needs or wants a large car …

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        Thank you. Sarcasm aside: I still drive Chevy’s 1997 XS–a 4 door Geo Metro. 4 cyl. 5 speed. 176k Go’damn miles on the clock. 39 mpg (43 hwy). Original everything. Airbags, a real trunk…RELIABLE and CHEEP.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    While a 5-speed auto might be advantageous, in this category a 6-speed stick is just more work. Nobody’s buying these things to race. A 5-speed that hits the right 5 ratios is what’s really wanted (and if it keeps the price down, so much the better). The marginal improvement in performance or fuel economy due to adding a 6th gear isn’t going to be very significant.

    Checklist shoppers may see 6 vs 5 and think “better” but it’s really not going to make much difference.

    • 0 avatar
      potatobreath

      This. I learned to drive stick a year ago in a beater Corolla, and I don’t think it would be any more fun or rewarding to drive with another cog. It would be just too busy. Heck, my CBR125R wasn’t very fun with six gears: first gear hit rev limiter at around 19 mph/30 kph.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Checklist shoppers may see 6 vs 5 and think “better” but it’s really not going to make much difference.

      The ability to have the 6th gear for highway cruising really does make for a far more relaxed driving at higher speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        Agreed. It’s all about the ratios. You can design 5th to be the same ratio as a would-be 6th. Hell, my 1997 metro has TWO overdrives–4th AND 5th. Look it up.

    • 0 avatar
      turbosaab

      I have to disagree. I’ve always driven 5-speeds and never met one that couldn’t have used at least one extra gear. Most need an extra for efficient highway cruising (I don’t need to be near 3000rpm @ 80, 2000 would be just fine), not to mention closer spacing between 1/2/3.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        It depends on what that top gear is. My 5th only takes about 10% of the revs off what 4th does. Clearly, it is not an overdrive. There’s no reason it couldn’t be much taller. I don’t need more gears, I just need the right one at the end.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        My 2007 MX5 is a 5-speed. At 105 mph it’s revving around 5,000 rpm. At normal highway speeds it could be geared better to do less than 3,000 rpm at 65 mph.

        A 6-speed would be more work for dubious results I think.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      KixStart, Agreed. The ones who will ultimately buy this car wouldn’t mind if there were FOUR cogs.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      Agreed. It’s all about the ratios. You can design 5th to be the same ratio as a would-be 6th. Hell, my 1997 metro has TWO overdrives–4th AND 5th. Look it up.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Zackman: Just how do you know your Miata does 5000 RPM @ 105MPH?

      ha ha!

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Well…one clear morning last week on the way to work just over the bridge in N.KY, I had to pass a guy, you see, and…for some reason I passed the next 10 guys and…well, the rest is history.

        I promised my wife that would NEVER happen again…!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    For the record, I prefer the Spark’s dash to the Camaro. The former probably has more useful trunk space, too.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Yes, but nobody buys a Camaro for trunk space in 2011, just as they didn’t in 1967, when a Chevy II Nova was roomier in the passenger compartment and trunk than a 1967 Camaro.

      The Spark and the Camaro are both niche vehicles with limited appeal, although for different reasons.

  • avatar
    jimbowski

    Silly me, I thought these were already available at dealerships. FWIW, this car is one of the first to pick from at the beginning of Forza 4.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Not to pick nits, but there’s some really bad photography in that gallery.

    As for the Spark, I can’t believe the 4-speed auto. It had better have a base price of $9,999.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Need some training/practice on effective use of flash, to avoid the under- and over-exposed images!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      There’s nothing really wrong with a four-speed that has well-chosen ratios. The transmission is cheaper, simpler, more robust and less likely to gear-hunt.

      In theory you get better fuel economy and mileage in a massively multispeed transmission, but I’m not completely sure it’s worth the tradeoff, or that (in this case) a CVT would be better.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        Thank you psarhjinian. Let’s bring back the 4 speed for God’s sake. Most stick drivers just rev the hell outa 1st and 2nd on most 5 speeds anyhow. A four speed w/ taller 1st and 2nds would suit most drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Now you guys are making me think of the magazine testers who commented that the 3 speed manual in the orginal Chevy Vega “it’s a 3 speed that feels like a 5 speed with 2nd and 4th removed.”

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        I vote for CVTs in this power class of car. They sound miserable with any form of autobox, so the trademark CVT groan is no biggie. And at least you get all of those meager horses as soon as your foot goes down, instead of the conventional auto ‘waaiiit-lurch’.

        *Speaking from wife’s Prius ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        A CVT does make sense here.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Is there a Spark convertible coming or are those just some teaser convertible shots of a different Chevy mixed in?

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “fear not the Spark is still cogs shy of the competition, with a 4-speed slush box or a 5 speed manual being the transmissions of choice in America”

    Just saying… the just launched here ’12 Yaris has a 4 speed auto or 5 speed manual. The same as the current Corolla. I don’t see anyone complaining about it and in the later case, it still sells like hotcakes.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    That front end looks EXACTLY like what I’d expect to happen in a head-on collision between a new Optima and a Honda Fit.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Is the 40 mpg highway realizable — safely?

    I tried to help a new hire buy a car so he could get to work regularly. The Nissan dealer had some tremendous incentives on their little car on a short term lease, so why not throw that in at a $120 monthly payment? It was fine up until 55 mph, but getting it up to speed on an expressway was hair-raising, and going from 70 to 80 to pass a truck took 20 seconds and unreasonably courted death.

    What this Malaise II mentality is missing is the federally-mandated 55 mph speed limit — that’s not coming back, and these things just don’t move fast enough to be safe without it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Is the 40 mpg highway realizable — safely?

      Does it matter? This is a city car, you may as well ask what the Impala gets in gridlock or how easy a Suburban is to parallel park.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        Yea. And who gives a shit if I want to buy an “unsafe” and slow car? Seems like I should have that option in the states. Others have the option of purchasing a Motorcycle. Or, worse yet, poor handling SUV’s that kill OTHERS.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        It seems to matter to the manufacturer, otherwise they wouldn’t advertise that 40 mpg highway as the gold standard of these new small segments.

        Since it has just four speeds, getting a good highway number is going to definitely come at the expense of city mileage.

        So, you are saying — highway performance doesn’t matter, this is a city car. However, the manufacturer says — but this car, it has great highway mileage. To get that highway mileage, they have compromised the city mileage because there are only so many gears to go around and they’ve had to do something to stretch unity and overdrive to get the highway number.

        Maybe your argument would be more persuasive if they had an advanced transmission in it or a CVT.

        People do ask how well the Impala does in city traffic, and they do ask how easy SUVs are to park, too. Ford sells a park assist for their vehicles to solve that very request.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      @MusicMachine Iif you want to drive an unsafe car, motorcycle without a helmet, or anything else, that’s your right and I don’t care what you do.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        If MusicMachine wants an unsafe city car theres the Honda Z600, a car that makes the “Smart” look big and gets 100mpg in the city, that way you don’t have to slow down traffic on the highway.

        That and it dosen’t look like some kinda endangered amazon fish like the Spark, it looks like a mini-Gremlin.

      • 0 avatar
        MusicMachine

        @ MrGreenMan Well..thank you. I guess I’ve just been somewhat peeved that there hasn’t been many OPTIONS of a XS car in the US. BTW, I think the CVT is a brilliant idea for cars like the Spark.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Seriously? I had a 54hp Peugeot 504D for many years and had NO trouble keeping up with traffic. Ditto my 75hp Triumph, which is slower than anything you can buy today new. Or a 114hp big barge Volvo 740? That has about the power-to-wieght ratio of a small dumptruck. All you do is put your foot down and keep it there. Little engines like to spin. Wear earplugs if necessary. :-)

      I can’t imagine how all those Europeans manage with cars that usually have engines 2/3s or less the size of the ones sold here, yet they have HIGHER (or sometimes NO) highway speed limits. Try a 1.2l Golf sometime if you want to experience slow, but it will still do nearly 100mph.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I had a 62 hp Mercedes 240D automatic in the late ’80s, but I wouldn’t want to drive it on California freeways today. The traffic calming imbeciles have stop lights on freeway entrance ramps here, necessitating 0-70 acceleration times under 10 seconds. This is the one place where all those 400 and 500 hp luxury cars start to make sense.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I think the Cruze is a much better-looking car. The new Chevy look doesn’t translate well to a car this small, or maybe the grill features are out of scale with the car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think all the hard plastic that used to go into GM interiors now goes into their faux grilles and window trim.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Looks like a Malibu is growing (Aliens-stomach-style) from it’s front

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Yippee! Another Daewood!


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