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2011 Chevrolet Spark: The smallest Chevy ever

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The new Chevrolet Spark mini-car has its roots in the 2007 Chevy Beat concept.

The new Chevrolet Spark mini-car has its roots in the 2007 Chevy Beat concept.

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Almost two years ago, Chevrolet unveiled a trio of tiny concept cars at the New York Auto Show--and asked the public to decide which they liked best. Almost two million Internet votes later, the edgy, wedgy green Beat was the clear winner.

Chevrolet Spark

Chevrolet Spark

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Now, the other shoe has dropped: The former Beat concept will be unveiled as the new Chevrolet Spark at next month's Geneva Motor Show. It'll be sold in the US as a 2011 model, and it's almost certainly the smallest car ever to wear the blue bowtie.

The Spark adds two more doors to the Beat's coupe design, though the rear door-handles are hidden in the pillars so you don't really see them at first. Like most mini-cars, the Spark is a hatchback, and to get enough interior volume, it's tall for its length. To keep proportions right, it sits on 15-inch wheels--larger than those of many competitors. The front has the traditional Chevy grille, with its horizontal split, and the rear sports round Chevy taillights.

The motorcycle-inspired instrument pod is mounted on the steering column.

The motorcycle-inspired instrument pod is mounted on the steering column.

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For European and Asian markets, the tiny car (less than 12 feet long) comes with either a 1.0-liter or 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine. It's a sophisticated little mill, with 16 valves operated by double overhead camshafts--though no word yet on whether it'll have gasoline direct injection like the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze.

Inside, a "motorcycle like" instrument cluster is mounted on the steering column. Stylish, sure, but also perhaps a way to make it cheaper and easier to build right- and left-hand-drive versions without major changes?

Chevrolet Beat Concept Introduction at 2009 NAIAS

Chevrolet Beat Concept Introduction at 2009 NAIAS

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The Spark goes on sale in Europe early next year, followed by other markets. Chevy notes that equipment will vary from market to market, but clearly the Spark is a "global" car designed to meet legal requirements in any market. Standard safety equipment on the Euro-version includes airbags for the driver and front passenger, with more located on the front side and roof rail, plus antilock brakes and electronic stability control.

2007 Chevrolet Beat Concept

2007 Chevrolet Beat Concept

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Trivia: This is the first time Chevy has sold a "Spark" in Europe or the US, but that name was used in some Asian markets for earlier models of the Matiz mini-car designed by Korean maker GM-Daewoo. Globalization continues ....

[MORE COVERAGE: See TheCarConnection.]

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Comment (1)
  1. "Ohhhhh Great One!"

    When more than half of the gasoline burned in the USA goes to push air out of the way, GM still 'styles' it's cars to the public taste and ignores its public duty! The wheel wells need to be enclosed to reduce drag. It needs a boat tail on it to both make it a bigger car AND increase gas mileage and enhance top speed. The belly pan lacking on this model will also increase mpg. America needs aerodynamic cars.
     
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