With paint color tags like Salsa, Jalapeno, Lemonade, and Silver Ice, Chevrolet Spark buyers won't know if they're getting a car or lunch. The subcompact is already offered on four continents and Mexico and comes to the U.S. in 2012 as a 2013 model.
The Chevy Spark is about the same size as Mitsubishi's i electric car and about the length of a Mini. It'll be one of the shortest four-doors in the U.S. A heavy wedge aspect to the styling, and headlamp clusters that nearly reach back to the windshield pillar mean most of the length goes to people or cargo.
Nearly square height and width mean upright seating, leaving room for four adults inside and some grocery bags behind; your six-foot correspondent could sit in the back seat. Chevrolet claims more room than the four-seat Fiat 500, three-seat Toyota iQ, and two-seat Smart fortwo. About four feet wide inside, there is no pointless center seat belt in the back. And it won't be fancy at this price, but it doesn't appear plastic and paper-backed, either.
Safety is addressed with high-strength steels, electronic safety aids and 10 airbags. OnStar is standard.
A 1.2-liter four-cylinder of about 85 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque powers the 2300-pound Spark, with a 5-speed manual standard and 4-speed automatic optional. Fuel economy ratings should be better than 30 mpg in the city, 40 on the highway, and the nine-gallon tank will provide plenty of range.
The dash features an instrument panel inspired by motorcycles, much like the Chevrolet Sonic and appropriate for a small engine that must be revved for power. Chevrolet Spark LT models will include the MyLink infotainment system that incorporates Bluetooth, Pandora and Stitcher internet radio, among other things. Chevrolet promises plenty of personalization options, a purview Scion and Mini cover best.
Far from a stripped econobox, every Spark will come with 15-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power windows and electric power steering. Available features should include heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite radio.
Chevrolet says an all-electric version of the Spark will be offered in 2013.