By Andy Lilienthal
We're big fans of the Chevrolet Spark. The car is proof that if you build a practical (e.g. four-door), well-built, modern A-segment car it will sell in the U.S. In fact, my mother-in-law just bought a 2015 Spark LS. Chevrolet isn't content to rest on its laurels with its A-segment offering; the company just announced a new-for-2016 Spark last week. Here are some details.
The '16 Spark will be powered by a 1.4-liter Ecotec engine making 98 hp vs. the current 1.2-liter which makes 84 hp. It will be available with either a five-speed manual or CVT. The next-generation will be 1.6 inches lower in overall height which will deduce drag, thus improving aerodynamics. Additionally, the '16 Spark will have a more rigid frame for improved ride and handling characteristics. After all is said and done, Chevrolet says the car will be able to achieve 40 MPG on the highway with the CVT—one MPG better than the current model, despite the 16% increase in power. No curb weight specs have been given, however.
Other available features include side blind spot alert, land departure warning, and forward collision alert,
I don't find the '16 Spark to be quite as edgy or forward looking as the current model, but I still do think it's attractive. For what it's worth, the Spark is sold in 40 (yes 40!) different markets across the globe. It's sold as the Opel Karl in Europe, too.
We really look forward to seeing what the next generation Spark is like to drive. If it offers up the same kind of experience as the current Spark, we expect Chevy to continue to reign supreme in the American A-segment. Full press release below.
Innovation is the Spark behind Chevrolet’s Minicar
NEW YORK – 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 1.6 inches (40 mm) 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 40 mpg on the 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 color 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 colors remains, and three new colors – 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 “center stack” for the infotainment and climate system controls. The Spark’s signature color-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 color 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 the United States in the fourth quarter of 2015.