It must be the Chevrolet Spark minicar's moment in the sun.

Last week, GM confirmed that the smallest Chevy ever sold will come to the U.S. as a 2013 model.

Then we put two and two together to wonder if Chevy's first all-electric car might be a converted Spark.

What we forgot to mention--until now--is that two weeks ago, Chevy launched the Spark in India (where it's known as the Beat) with a tiny three-cylinder turbodiesel engine displacing less than a liter.

Diesels are more and more popular in India for their extremely high fuel economy, and this one is rated (on the Indian test cycle) at a delightful 56.5 miles per gallon.

Chevrolet Beat Diesel (aka Chevy Spark) brochure image from India, Aug 2011

Chevrolet Beat Diesel (aka Chevy Spark) brochure image from India, Aug 2011

The little 936cc triple has a fixed-geometry turbocharger and vacuum-operated wastegate, giving it an output of 58 horsepower and 111 pound-feet of torque.

With that small an engine in a car that weighs 2,260 pounds, however, the performance is leisurely: 0 to 62 mph in 15.5 seconds.

Chevrolet calls it "the smallest diesel engine in the world in mass production with a service interval of 15,000 kilometers" (9,000 miles).

The service interval for the even tinier 54-hp (40-kW) 40-hp, 799cc turbodiesel that's offered in European versions of the Smart ForTwo (and in Canada from 2004 to 2007 as well) is 10,000 miles, at least in European markets. We're not sure whether the Smart diesel is sold in India, though, or may have a more frequent maintenance requirement there.

The Chevy Beat Diesel also has four seats, five doors, and a great deal more carrying capacity than the diesel Smart.

It comes in three trim levels and includes variable electric power steering. Unlike cars sold in the U.S., however, not only alloy wheels but also anti-lock brakes and airbags are offered as optional extras.

Sadly, the little Beat Diesel is likely to be just another forbidden fruit for U.S. buyers.



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