next-generation Chevrolet Spark testing in South Korea [photo: BobaEdream.co.kr]Enlarge Photo
The Chevrolet Spark minicar, among the smallest five-door hatchbacks sold in North America, has been an unexpected success for General Motors.
The company has boosted imports a couple of times, and managed to sell almost 40,000 of them last year--and 34,000 the year before.
Now, the first spy shots of the next-generation Spark have emerged, from Korean car site BobaEdream.
The major changes to the new Spark, which will likely arrive in the U.S. as a 2017 model, are largely forward of the firewall.
next-generation 2017 Chevrolet Spark testing in South Korea [photo: BobaEdream.co.krEnlarge Photo
The Korean site (via Indian Autos Blog) shows three photos of the revised Spark, although as of this morning, the page on which they were posted had been taken down.
The Chevy Spark was the only one of 11 small cars to earn an "Accceptable" rating last fall on the new small-overlap frontal crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Four other cars earned a "Marginal" rating, and the rest were rated "Poor"--so the Spark is already ahead of the game.
But with GM rolling out a new range of small three- and four-cylinder engines globally, the Spark was clearly going to be updated anyhow.
The new nose may also give it better performance on European pedestrian-crash safety requirements that do not exist in North America.
The Spark has been a global success for General Motors, under both the Spark name and in some markets (India included), as the Chevrolet Beat.
It was first launched overseas in 2009, though it didn't arrive in the U.S. until the 2013 model year.
2014 Chevrolet Spark, Catskill Mountains, Apr 2014Enlarge Photo
If the usual rollout pattern persists, the car will launch in other markets as a 2016 vehicle, and arrive in the U.S. a year or so later--likely sometime next year--as a 2017 model.
The next-generation Chevy Spark will likely not include the low-volume Spark EV electric car, however.
That role will be filled instead by the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt, a battery-electric vehicle with a 200-mile range that will use some of the underpinnings of the Chevy Sonic subcompact, one size larger than the Spark.
Still, with bracket creep occurring in all vehicle segments, it's worth noting that the Spark isn't that much smaller than subcompacts of 10 or 15 years ago.
And with its new and longer nose, it's likely to be perceived as slightly larger than it actually is--likely a good thing, at least in North American markets.