Even after the debut of the all-new Cadillac CT6 flagship a significant redesign of the Chevy Malibu, a mild update to the GMC Terrain, GM wasn’t done at the New York Auto Show.
This morning, Chevrolet showed a redesigned Spark featuring new styling, a fresh interior, increased size and a new engine that should help the Spark keep pace in the city car segment. While the Spark has struggled in Canada, it has sold surprisingly well in the US, so it has likely impressed US brass as a more significant product than a mere oddball global car. However, in Canada, the Spark must compete with a pair of other city car-sized sub-subcompact four-doors in the Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Micra.
First order of business was a substantially more powerful engine at 1.4L (over the previous 1.25) that produces 98 hp, up from 84. With the available CVT (a five-speed manual transmission is standard), GM estimates that it will deliver 5.9 L/100 km efficiency, a nice jump form the current car’s 7.0.
The design is softer and seems more conventional, but the interior shows the most drastic improvement, with materials that are a step or two above the previous car’s – especially the synthetic leather that is a vast improvement over the rubbery seat coverings before. Also new is the conventional gauge cluster behind the steering wheel replacing the motorcycle-style column-mounted gauge pod. Mylink will also be enhanced with new features and capabilities, and Chevrolet is adding the option of advanced safety tech like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Spot Alert in top trims.
Redesigned, more refined global minicar offers greater efficiency, safety and connectivity
New 1.4L engine offers 16 percent more horsepower than current model
New available active safety features include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Spot Alert
On sale in the fourth quarter of 2015
NEW YORK (Wednesday, April 1, 2015) – Chevrolet today introduced the all-new 2016 Spark – a completely redesigned and more sophisticated execution of the brand’s global minicar. It offers greater efficiency and refinement, along with new, available safety and connectivity features.
As one of Chevrolet’s most global vehicles, the 2016 Spark will be offered in more than 40 markets around the world.
“Chevrolet is fast becoming one of the world’s most important mini- and small car manufacturers, offering customers around the globe a new road to the refinement, efficiency and connectivity features that resonate with them,” said Alan Batey, president, GM North America and Global Chevrolet.
“The redesigned 2016 Spark builds on a strong legacy and takes the segment to a higher level with features and technologies not typically offered.”
The new Spark has a sleeker appearance, thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase, and an overall height about 40 mm (1.6 inches) lower than the current model. The lower profile reduces aerodynamic drag to help improve efficiency and interior changes maintain the Spark’s traditionally generous headroom.
It is also built on an all-new, more robust architecture that serves as the foundation for its more sophisticated driving experience. The stronger body structure enabled engineers to tune ride and handling more precisely, for greater feelings of control and refinement, while fostering a quieter ride.
“At its core, the new Spark is still the fun, agile urban car that made the first-generation model so popular, but it delivers that fun driving experience with greater sophistication,” said Sam Basile, executive chief engineer. “And while it’s a truly global car, it is targeted for more developed vehicle markets, allowing engineers to focus more precisely on the materials and technologies that resonate with customers in those markets.”
Additional new and enhanced vehicle features:
All-new Ecotec 1.4L I-4 with manual and continuously variable (CVT) transmissions – delivering a GM-estimated 5.9 L/100km highway with the available CVT
New available safety features including Side Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert
Next-generation Chevrolet MyLink with 7-inch-diagonal colour touch screen
Advanced dot-matrix LCD instrument cluster display
Comprehensive lineup of accessory packages for unprecedented personalization options.
With the instantly recognizable face of a contemporary global Chevrolet, the 2016 Spark is distinguished by a sleeker proportion and aesthetics.
The lower roof height reduces the characteristic upright look of many minicars, while a “shrink-wrapped” body – with the wheels pushed to the edges of the fenders – contribute to a firmly planted presence.
An evolution of Chevrolet’s signature dual-port grille is flanked by large, elliptical headlamps that sweep back into the front fenders. The headlamps have a highly detailed appearance that contribute to the Spark’s more sophisticated design.
“In short, the Spark has grown up,” said Michael Simcoe, GM International vice president of Design. “It retains a youthful flair, but reflects the maturation of the global minicar market and customers’ desires for richly styled and highly contented choices.”
A palette of bold exterior colours remains, and three new colours – Toasted Marshmallow, Kalamata and Splash – join the mix, depending on the market.
Inside, designers matched the lowered roof height by adjusting the hip-point dimensions for the seats, maintaining the ample headroom of the current model and offering comparable spaciousness with a more engaging driving position.
Upgraded materials and greater attention to detail, including everything from the higher-quality fabrics to higher-density seat foam that enhance comfort and durability, add sophistication.
“You have a greater feeling of sitting in the seats rather than on them,” said Simcoe.
An all-new instrument panel design with an advanced liquid crystal display (LCD) features a prominent “centre stack” for the infotainment and climate system controls. The Spark’s signature colour-matched instrument panel décors are updated with trapezoidal air outlets compared with round outlets on the current model.
The Spark’s all-new MyLink radio features a capacitive-touch colour display, with an icon-based interface similar to smartphones and other electronic devices. And like a smartphone, the capacitive-touch display allows swiping, pinching and other gestures for quick, easy operation.
New volume control and other physical buttons reduce complexity and enhance the system intuitiveness.
Complementing MyLink to enhance Spark’s connectivity is available OnStar with 4G LTE built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. It provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on.
The 2016 Spark is powered by an all-new 1.4L engine that is part of GM’s new, global family of Ecotec small-displacement engines. It offers an estimated 98 horsepower (73 kW) – a 16-percent increase over the current model.
Engineered to deliver strong performance with excellent efficiency, the new Ecotec engine family represents a clean-sheet design and engineering process, leveraging the diverse experience of GM’s global resources.
“The new Ecotec architecture represents the most advanced and efficient family of small-car gas engines in GM’s history,” said Tom Sutter, global chief engineer. “Along with performance and efficiency targets, we’ve also aimed for segment-challenging refinement with low noise and vibration – and we’ve hit the bulls-eye.”
Spark’s new 1.4L features an aluminum cylinder block and head, which helps reduce the vehicle’s overall mass to enhance performance and efficiency. The cylinder head also incorporates an integrated exhaust manifold, which further reduces weight – an attribute that contributes to increased vehicle efficiency and a more favorable front-to-rear weight balance, for a more responsive driving experience.
Engine efficiency is also enhanced through reduced friction, including low-friction piston rings, a low-friction camshaft drive and a low-friction oil pump. A five-speed manual transmission or dual-range continuously variable transmission are available with the new 1.4L.
The 2016 Chevrolet Spark builds on the current model’s reputation for delivering excellent passenger safety in the minicar segment, where the 2015 Spark is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A stronger body structure is at the core of the new Spark’s safety story and is complemented by a wider array of passive and active safety features. Ten standard air bags include driver/front passenger knee air bags, roof rail side air bags and seat-mounted thorax/pelvic air bags. A rollover sensing and protection system is also offered.
Additionally, new active safety features can help drivers avoid collisions through camera-based technology providing alerts to possible collision threats:
Forward Collision Alert
Lane Departure Warning
Side Blind Spot Alert.
A rear-vision camera system is standard and rear park assist is offered.
The 2016 Chevrolet Spark will be produced from globally sourced parts at GM’s Changwon, South Korea assembly facility. It goes on sale in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2015.
FAST FACT: Global Chevrolet Spark sales have surpassed 1 million since it went on sale in 2010.