2016 Chevrolet Spark: First Look

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  • Competes with: Mini Cooper, Smart ForTwo, Fiat 500
  • Looks like: A grown-up take on Chevy’s mini-car
  • Drivetrain: 98-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2015

More 2015 New York Auto Show Coverage

Chevrolet’s global mini-car is about to get a major update, as the company simultaneously unveils the latest version of its South Korean-built Spark at auto shows in Seoul, South Korea, and New York City. Chevy bills the new Spark as a more grown-up version of the currently cartoonish runabout, one built more for established urban markets instead of developing new markets.

Exterior

The new Spark gets a more mature design; gone are the tall pointy headlights that made it look like it had oversized features. It now looks much more like the rest of the Chevrolet family and less like a bug-eyed character from an anime cartoon. The new Spark sits on a slightly longer wheelbase for better interior space, but it’s also 1.6 inches lower overall. Chevy maintains that the lower roof does not impact interior headroom, but it does help with aerodynamic efficiency versus the current model.

Interior

The inside has matured as well, but Chevrolet is keeping the signature body-colored accents on certain models’ interiors. Trapezoidal air vents have replaced round ones, and the center console is more prominent. GM upgraded the interior materials with denser seat cushion foam for a more upscale experience and atmosphere. A new “dot-matrix LCD” gauge cluster is available, as is a new 7-inch touch-screen in the center console for Chevrolet’s MyLink multimedia system.

Under the Hood

Powering the Spark is an updated 98-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It drives the front wheels via a standard five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission. The new engine is 16 percent more powerful than that of the outgoing model, which sounds better than saying “it makes 14 more horsepower.” Chevrolet did not provide any fuel economy estimates, however.

Safety

Rear park assist sensors and a backup camera will be standard on all Spark trim levels, the company said, along with 10 airbags. With the new update come electronic safety features such as blind spot warning, forward collision alert and lane departure warning, which are not normally seen in this price and size category.  

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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