Here it is: the on-again Chevrolet Spark will get its debut in Geneva... maybe. Either way, we have full photos and details inside.
GM has announced they will finally release the Chevrolet Spark at the Geneva Motor Show later this week. Forgive us for saying this, but we'll believe it when we see it. As you may recall, GM previously said the minicar would be unveiled at the NAIAS, even teasing it a day before its scheduled release on a U.S. national television program.
Then, for some unknown reason, the car was mysteriously pulled from the Detroit show. In its place, they wheeled out the years old Chevy Beat concept first shown in New York during the 2007 show there.
Maybe that is why GM has released a full slate of pictures, and details, on the four-door minicar a day before its release. Early information about the car got a bunch of people excited two months ago. Unfortunately for Chevy, after seeing the interior photos, that excitement definitely faded.
Pictures of the car's interior show a few interesting details, but not enough to compensate for what looks to be the same stale and watered down appearance so commonly done on Chevy cars. The interior side door panels look dull, the vents seem poor, and the glove box appears to be flimsy. The center console is touched up with some nicely colored backlighting, and the "motorcycle-inspired instrument pod" almost looks cool ... but it still misses the mark.
And what's with the color stripes on the seats?
For a car that is as long as a 1st gen BMW MINI, we really wish this car had more power. The customer will get to choose between two aluminum engines, including a 66 hp 1.0-liter petrol and a 78 hp 1.2 liter petrol. These will be mounted to a five-speed manual transmission.Unfortunately, torque figures are absent, as are numbers related to the car's curb weight. What we do know is that the car has a 0-100 km/h time of 12.4 seconds, which GM calls "brisk".
The good news is that this is a relatively clean engine, producing less than 120 g CO2 per kilometer. This keeps the car's emissions in line with the last-gen Chevy/Daewoo Spark/Matiz, while giving a small power boost. The emissions rating also means lower tax costs, and getting around some inner-city congestion charges. It would have been nice for Chevy to introduce this car with a clean turbodiesel option as well.
Dual front airbags, as well as side and curtain airbags, come standard. The Spark also comes with three, three-point belts in the rear, although it may be tough squeezing three people in. Heated front seats are standard, with a height-adjustable seat for the driver. Side mirrors and front windows are powered.
From the outside, the car does look a bit more interesting than many other minicars. You wouldn't know it from a quick glance, but this car is actually a five-door. Chevy engineers smartly hid the rear-door handles to preserve clean lines on the car. 13-inch wheels come standard, which seems a bit small. 14- and 15-inch wheels will also be available.
The almost diamond-shaped headlights seems to extend from the bumper all the way to the windshield. Although it has a somewhat squashed front end, where the fog lights are lowered and the grille is rounded out, the styling is not that much different from the Chevy Beat concept.
And that is a good thing. After all, it was the car's looks that garnered tens of thousands of votes in an online poll to help GM determine Chevrolet's direction. One must be reminded that despite this car's failings, it still has the potential to deliver to its target audience. If Chevy guesses correctly on this car's pricing, they may have a popular entry-level vehicle for a new generation of drivers. Chevrolet thinks they have guessed right, but we'll know for sure when the new 2010 Chevy Spark is unveiled in Geneva.
Unless GM pulls out again.