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.
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.
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
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
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.]