- - Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark mini car, Chevrolet’s first mini car for the U.S. and Canadian markets, is a sporty four-passenger, five-door hatch. It is designed to excite first-time buyers and city dwellers with its bold styling and colors, affordability, the safety of 10 standard air bags, fuel efficiency and maneuverability.

Spark also is the only car in its segment to provide MyLink Radio - a seven-inch color touch screen radio capable of displaying smartphone-based music, videos, photos and contacts for hands-free calling. MyLink Radio comes with two embedded apps for Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio and later, BringGo, an embedded app for full-function GPS navigation, will be available for purchase.

Though compact, Spark offers more passenger and cargo room than other mini-cars such as the Fiat 500, Smartfortwo and the Scion iQ. Equipped with the Ecotec 1.25L four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, Spark offers competitive EPA-estimated fuel economy of 38 mpg hwy.

The Spark is already on sale globally. In the U.S. and Canada, Spark is offered in LS, 1LT and 2LT models.

“Spark is ideal for active city dwellers because it is easy to drive, easy to park and easy to own,” said Chris Perry, Global Chevrolet vice president for marketing. “For these customers, Spark is their key to the city.”

Design that grabs

In a segment of “cute” cars, Spark’s solid, powerful stance is designed to challenge the status quo, and its interior reflects refinement, craftsmanship and personal technologies normally associated with larger, more expensive vehicles.

While the Spark looks like a three-door hatch, designers cleverly disguised the rear doors by integrating the handles into the C-pillar area. The technique gives Spark its sporty appearance without sacrificing five-door comfort and utility. An integrated spoiler over the rear hatch door enhances Spark’s dynamic appearance while also improving the car’s aerodynamics, for fuel efficiency.

The Spark’s prominent two-tier grille and bowtie logo preserve Chevrolet’s signature global look. A wheels-out, body-in stance, stretched windshield accentuated by a single arc roofline, body-color front door handles and body sides free of cladding make the Spark appear more sleek, aggressive and upscale. Spark’s wheels-at-the-corners stance is further emphasized by standard 15-inch aluminum wheels.

Dramatically sized, elliptically shaped halogen headlamps stretch from the front fascia to the A-pillar. Their clear, polycarbonate lenses and chrome-coated headlamp bezels are sculpted into the forward corners, and accents within the housings offset the chrome bezels for a strong visual statement. Projector-type fog lamps are standard on the 2LT Spark model.

A cabin that’s stylish and spacious

Spark’s interior complements its sporty exterior with comfort, spaciousness and style. Its most identifiable element is a motorcycle-inspired column-mounted instrument cluster that features one of two large, full-color LCD screens and provides digital feedback to the driver in a design that’s bold, fun and easy to view at a glance.

Decorative inserts in the front door and instrument panel add a premium touch, as does ice blue ambient lighting and faceplates across the door pockets and dash. Heated leatherette seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel are included on Spark 2LT. Air conditioning and power windows are standard across the lineup.

When it comes to storage space, numerous bins are located throughout the cabin, while the cargo area offers 11.4 cubic feet (323 L) behind rear seat. That’s 20 percent more than Fiat 500 and 225 percent more than Scion iQ’s 3.5 cubic feet (99 liters). Spark also offers 31.2 cubic feet (884 L) with the rear seat folded - and the rear seat features a 60-40 split that allows long items, such as skis, to be transported along with a rear-seat passenger.

Infotainment designed for today - and tomorrow

For Spark, Chevrolet MyLink - standard on 1LT and 2LT models - consists of a seven-inch color touch screen, AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three trial months of service) stereo with seek-and-scan, digital clock, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, six speakers and voice recognition for connected phones with this capability.

What it does not have is a CD player. MyLink Radio operates by integrating the owner’s compatible smartphone and stored media - via Bluetooth, plug-in outlet or USB - with the radio. This lets owners enjoy simple, safe and personalized connectivity while their smartphone is stowed.

MyLink-equipped Spark models come with two apps: Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio. Later, BringGo, an embedded app that delivers full-function navigation and live traffic updates, will be available for MyLink and priced at about $50.

BringGo will enable easy access to emergency information such as police, fire and the nearest hospital; thousands of points of interest; local search via Google; Where am I? locator; live traffic functionality that provides crash reports, lane closures and alternative routes; three-dimensional maps and more.

A powertrain that saves gas and money

In the United States and Canada, the Spark is powered by an Ecotec 1.25L dual-overhead cam four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing that delivers SAE-certified 84 horsepower (64 kW). It is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission, and a four-speed automatic transmission is available.

The Spark achieves an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in combined city and highway driving with the manual transmission, and 32 mpg with the automatic transmission. The Chevrolet Spark also has the lowest estimated fuel cost of any Chevrolet small car, except the Volt. It also uses regular unleaded fuel, while the Fiat 500 requires premium fuel.

A driving experience that impresses

Spark’s body-frame-integral structure is tight and stiff for sportier driving dynamics. The electric power steering and MacPherson strut front suspension are designed to deliver taut, tight handling characteristics that better connect the driver with the road and provide outstanding overall stability. Anti-lock brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and Hill Start Assist are standard.

Hill Start Assist helps prevent drivers from rolling when restarting from a stopped position on a hill. It allows drivers to take their foot off the brake long enough to use the accelerator and move forward.

Spark is equipped with vented front disc and rear drum brakes for excellent stopping performance and good pedal feel. Low rolling-resistance tires use a silica compound and revised tread design for a solid road feel and improved fuel efficiency.

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